Forget about xG, we’re all about xHBP now — expected handball penalties!
We all know it’s been a crazy start to the season: empty stadiums, head-turning scorelines and results, penalties galore.
That last point has been a particularly big topic of debate. Both the implementation of VAR and the new handball laws have led to 36 penalties being awarded to 16 separate clubs to date. That’s over one penalty every other game — the most of any season at this stage since the Premier League began.
Of those 36, six of them have been directly given for handball incidents. Crystal Palace currently lead the way in this regard, having conceded two of total after VAR reviews in the opening seven gameweeks.
But does every club have an equal chance of conceding a handball penalty? Well, not quite.
A new study, conducted by Paddy Power, has worked out which Premier League clubs are most likely to concede a penalty via handball. Their calculations took into account a number of factors, including the average hand size of each club’s players, and how many clearances per match every team makes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Manchester United’s lads topped the charts for hand size, with Harry Maguire and co. proving that heads and hands really do go hand-in-hand. However, given their attacking quality, the Red Devils don’t make as many clearances as most of their their adversaries, leaving them with an overall xHBP rank of 7th.
So, without further ado, we can reveal the Premier League club most likely to concede a penalty from a handball is… Crystal Palace!
The Eagles make an average of 21 clearances each match and their players have a well above average hand size. According to the study, Roy Hodgson’s men are 55% more likely to concede a handball penalty (0.055 xHBP) than the league average.
Palace were closely followed by West Ham and Sheffield United, pointing towards the risk of having rather large defenders who sit deep and look to clear anything that comes into their penalty area.
Conversely, Manchester City and Leeds bring up the rear of the table, with their teams made up of small-handed, jinking playmakers, who instead look to pass their way out of danger at every opportunity.
Below you can find a full breakdown of the table and see where every club ranks:
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