How Common Are Corners & How Many Result In Goals?

outswinging corner kickIn football, there have been teams who have become particularly successful over the years at scoring from corners with some even having players who can deliver with deadly accuracy.

Corners are thought of highly in the UK, with most fans celebrating them and expecting at least a goal scoring opportunity to result from one.  In other leagues, such as in Italy, corners do not carry the same kind of weight as they do over here.

In reality few goals result from corners, although that doesn’t stop people betting on them, especially the number of corners in a game, half or period.  This has become especially common since with the rising popularity of bet builders and bet request features (e.g. team to win, over 4.5 bookings and over 9.5 corners).  Therefore, it is worth looking at the stats around corners in football to help decide whether betting on corners is good value or not.

Average Corners per Game – 2019/2020

Team Average Corners
Liverpool 11.25
Juventus 11.23
LA Galaxy 11.17
Manchester City 11.00
PSG 10.33
Chelsea 10.21
Real Madrid 9.78
Barcelona 8.44

Goals From Corners 2016/17 Premier League season

Team Corners taken Goals Scored Conversion Rate (%)
Arsenal 195 7 3.6
Bournemouth 185 4 2.2
Burnley 146 6 4.1
Chelsea 191 10 5.2
Crystal Palace 194 8 4.1
Everton 181 10 5.5
Hull City 170 9 5.3
Leicester City 181 6 3.3
Liverpool 240 6 2.5
Manchester City 259 4 1.5
Manchester United 208 4 1.9
Middlesbrough 132 4 3
Southampton 179 5 2.8
Stoke City 171 7 4.1
Sunderland 147 3 2
Swansea City 185 6 3.2
Tottenham Hotspur 258 6 2.2
Watford 149 5 3.4
West Bromwich Albion 149 15 10.1
West Ham United 163 11 6.7
Average / Team 184 6.8 3.8

In the summer of 2017, Opta published statistics which suggested that only 3.2 percent of corners on average in Premier League led to a goal, while in the five seasons prior across Europe, between 0.32 percent and 0.38 percent of goals per game were courtesy of goals scored from corners in the Premier League; this statistic being similar across Europe’s top leagues.

Are Corner Bets Good Value?

Live BettingOne market in football that is quite popular for punters is how many corners there will be in a game, which makes for an educated guess if there are two teams who play with wingers who like to cross the ball into the box and centre backs who could often meet the ball with their head, which may or may not result in a corner.

An idea here would be to research the average amount of corners that the particular teams in question are usually awarded in a match and base your selection on that. In football though, the corner market can be tricky to predict, so unless you know what you are doing, it is probably best to avoid them.

If you want to bet on corners the best way to do it is a single bet.  If you add corners with other outcomes in bet builders these are quite poor value bets.  When you link corners with any other market in the same game it is known as a related contingency and these bets are known for having very high margins for the bookie, which equals lower value for the punter.

The Value Of A Corner Is Relative To The Team

corner close up

Often in a football team, it isn’t too uncommon to have one set piece taker who covers free kicks and corners, though this can vary if teams prefer players who use different feet for inswinging or outswinging corners.

Over the years, we have become very familiar with particular routines; it was almost a trademark at Manchester United for David Beckham to bend in a delivery and find the head of Teddy Sheringham in the penalty area, or there were times when Paul Scholes would be lurking on the edge of the box and connect with a 25-yard volley into the back of the net.

And then there was Chelsea during the Jose Mourinho era when Frank Lampard could take his pick from John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho or Didier Drogba who were dominant aerial threats, which would usually result in a goal.

Any team which has aerial presence in their side more often than not, have a great deal of success from corners and are particularly hard to defend against, arguably harder than from free kicks, due to the chaos that it can cause in the penalty area and not knowing which direction that the attackers are going to run in.

Corners also provide the opportunity for defenders to employ tactics which are generally frowned upon, though because of the amount of bodies in the penalty area and the fact that two men (referee and linesman) cannot watch everyone at once, defenders have resorted to simulation; either trying to win a foul or prevent an attacking player from getting to the ball illegally in the hope that it isn’t observed, though this is a calculated risk.

Corner Tactics

Defending Against Corners (Legitimately)

defending a cornerUnder Rafael Benitez circa 2004 it was suggested that Liverpool employed a tactic called zonal marking in the penalty where each defender would mark a particular area in the penalty box and pick up any attackers making runs.

While in theory, this might have sounded a good idea, teams were quick to work out how to gain an advantage and Benitez often endured much criticism from pundits and fans; particularly because at the time, they had the personnel who were perfectly capable of marking man to man.

In some cases, teams with particularly strong or tall centre forwards would usually utilise them in the box as a defensive tactic, a strategy in which Peter Crouch came in so useful for the different teams he played for, however, he was usually much more effective at the other end, attacking the ball from a delivery.

Short Corners

This tactic is usually used by teams who are typically small and can keep possession of the football well; Barcelona under Pep Guardiola often employed the short corner strategy, however, because they were that in tune with one another, by the time the defenders had realised what was going on, the ball would have been nicely worked into a shooting position.

Also it was often the case that they would have very many corners in a match because they would invariably find the back of the net with most of their chances.

Are Goalkeepers Better Now At Defending Corners?

Some teams have a particular achilles heel when it comes to corners and that is the decision making quality of their goalkeeper whose judgement might not be as good as shot stopping; David de Gea struggled with this for a long time at Manchester United as teams realised he wasn’t the best when defending corners.

However, compared to recent decades, a lot more protection has been placed on goalkeepers, who were often targeted by players of the opposing team and as a result sometimes sustained injuries. This led to referees being pressured to be more vigilant with goalkeepers and afford less leniency to the attacking team.

Goals Directly From Corner Kicks

It has become very rare in recent years for teams to have players who can score directly from a corner; defending teams are a lot more savvy these days and usually place a defender on each post who are aware of such a threat, though for the highly skilled, scoring directly from a corner is possible.

When Beckham played at La Galaxy in the twilight of his career, one notable incident was him scoring directly from a corner kick; a goal which was met with raptures by his teammates and delighted the American fans.

Final Observations

corner and flagMore often than not, it will usually be one of the smaller players who take corners, due to the fact that taller players are far more valuable in the penalty area attacking the deliveries and causing chaos, though there have been some strange decisions over the years. Not least when former England manager Roy Hodgson opted to utilise Harry Kane (one of the tallest players and main goal threats) as a corner taker repeatedly to the annoyance of many fans.

While it is quite rare to see goals scored directly from a corner (much rarer than free kicks), there are teams though who have forged a reputation from having players who can find the back of the net in the penalty area from an accurate delivery.