Frank Lampard and the Art of the Penalty Kick

Article published on 2012-06-18 by FootballFactMan of DifferentGame.wordpress.com | Share on Twitter |

The 2008 Champions League Final doesn’t hold too many great memories for Chelsea fans, but a lesson learned that night probably held them in good stead for this year’s final.

The book Soccernomics tells the story of Basque economist Ignacio Palacios-Huerta who sent Chelsea the findings of a study (Professionals Play Minimax) he’d made regarding the art of taking the penalty kick. He told them that Edwin van der Sar made a habit of diving to his right if the kicker was right-footed, and diving to his left if the kicker was left-footed. He therefore advised Chelsea to have their takers do the opposite. If you can bear it, look the shoot-out up on Youtube and note Van der Sar gesturing to Anelka before the final penalty once he thinks he’s figured out Chelsea’s strategy (only Ashley Cole ignored the advice until Nicolas Anelka stepped up).

We’ve all since read Petr Cech’s post-Bayern comments about studying his opponents penalty habits on DVD prior to the game and the fact he dived the right way for each spot kick.

The story of Moscow and a friend’s subsequent questioning of Frank Lampard’s penalty habits led me to studying the midfielder’s strategy. It took a while to compile the list, and even longer to find the video footage, but it’s all out there if you look hard enough – even the ones taken in pre-season friendlies.

Lampard Penalties to the Goalkeeper's right

Lampard Penalties down the middle

Lampard Penalties to the Goalkeeper's left

Clearly he’s never missed one that he’s smashed down the middle. The decision in the Allianz Arena last month was a good one.

Economic game theory suggests right-footed kickers like Lampard should go to the keeper’s right 61.5% of the time.  So what does Lampard do? Is he near the optimum? Split the goal exactly in half and Lampard has sent 70.5% of his penalty kicks that way.

The theory looks like it holds – Lampard’s missed nearly 19% of the kicks he’s put to the keeper’s right and just under 6% of penalties he’s put to the keeper’s left. It looks like it’s time to vary it up a little more.

And for the record, here’s the full list of Frank Lampard penalties for Chelsea:

Date Opponent Placed Keeper Keeper Dived Outcome
2003-11-09 Newcastle Kprs Right Given Right Goal
2003-11-30 Man Utd Kprs Left Howard Right Goal
2004-08-28 Southampton Kprs Left Niemi Right Goal
2004-10-27 West Ham Kprs Right Walker Right Saved
2005-01-15 Spurs Kprs Left Robinson Left Goal
2005-05-15 Newcastle Down Middle Given Right Goal
2005-09-24 Villa Kprs Left Sorensen Left Goal
2005-10-02 Liverpool Kprs Left Reina Left Goal
2005-10-26 Charlton Kprs Right Andersen Right Goal
2005-10-29 Blackburn Kprs Right Friedel Left Goal
2005-11-26 Portsmouth Kprs Right Ashdown Left Goal
2006-02-08 Everton Kprs Right Martyn Right Goal
2006-03-07 Barcelona Kprs Left Valdes Right Goal
2006-08-29 Blackburn Kprs Right Friedel Right Goal
2006-09-09 Charlton Kprs Right Carson Right Saved
2006-09-23 Fulham Down Middle Niemi Right Goal
2007-01-06 Macclesfield Kprs Right Morley Right Goal
2007-03-14 Man City Kprs Right Isaksson Left Goal
2007-05-01 Liverpool Kprs Right Reina Right Goal
2007-07-28 Rangers Kprs Right McGregor Right Saved
2007-08-05 Man Utd Kprs Right Van der Sar Right Saved
2007-08-19 Liverpool Kprs Right Reina Left Goal
2007-12-08 Sunderland Kprs Left Ward Right Goal
2008-03-01 West Ham Kprs Right Green Left Goal
2008-03-12 Derby Kprs Left Carroll Right Goal
2008-04-30 Liverpool Kprs Left Reina Right Goal
2008-05-21 Man Utd Kprs Left Van der Sar Left Goal
2008-08-01 Lokomotiv Kprs Right Pelizzoli Right Goal
2008-08-17 Portsmouth Kprs Right James Right Goal
2008-09-24 Portsmouth Kprs Left James Left Goal
2008-11-12 Burnley Kprs Right Jensen Left Goal
2009-04-11 Bolton Kprs Right Jaaskelainen Left Goal
2009-07-22 Inter Kprs Left Belec Right Goal
2009-08-09 Man Utd Down Middle Foster Left Goal
2009-08-18 Sunderland Kprs Right Fulop Right Goal
2009-10-24 Blackburn Kprs Right Robinson Left Goal
2009-10-31 Bolton Kprs Right Jaaskelainen Left Goal
2009-12-05 Man City Kprs Right Given Right Saved
2009-12-16 Portsmouth Down Middle Begovic Left Goal
2009-12-20 West Ham Kprs Left Green Right Goal
2010-02-27 Man City Kprs Right Given Left Goal
2010-03-27 Villa Kprs Right Friedel Right Goal
2010-03-27 Villa Kprs Right Friedel Right Goal
2010-04-25 Stoke Kprs Left Sorensen Right Goal
2010-05-09 Wigan Kprs Right Pollitt Right Goal
2010-05-15 Portsmouth Kprs Right James Right Wide
2010-08-28 Stoke Kprs Right Sorensen Right Saved
2011-01-02 Villa Down Middle Friedel Right Goal
2011-02-01 Sunderland Kprs Right Gordon Left Goal
2011-02-19 Everton Kprs Right Howard Right Goal
2011-03-01 Man Utd Down Middle Van der Sar Right Goal
2011-03-07 Blackpool Kprs Left Kingson Right Goal
2011-07-27 Kitchee Down Middle Zhenpeng Left Goal
2011-08-27 Norwich Down Middle Rudd Right Goal
2011-09-21 Fulham Kprs Right Schwarzer Right Saved
2011-12-03 Newcastle Kprs Left Krul Left Saved
2011-12-12 Man City Down Middle Hart Left Goal
2012-03-14 Napoli Kprs Right De Sanctis Right Goal
2012-04-04 Benfica Kprs Right Moraes Right Goal
2012-04-09 Fulham Kprs Right Schwarzer Right Goal
2012-05-19 Bayern Down Middle Neuer Right Goal

An updated list of Frank Lampard penalties is available.