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Record-Breaking Penalty Conversion Rates in the 2023/24 Premier League Season

 Record-Breaking Penalty Conversion Rates in the 2023/24 Premier League Season

Alejandro Garnacho of Manchester United
Alejandro Garnacho of Manchester United in action during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2024 in London, England(Image-Getty) 

 The Conversion Rate from Spot-Kicks Was at an All-Time High in 2023/24


In the 2023/24 Premier League season, the conversion rate from penalties reached an all-time high. This article, based on analysis by Opta Analyst, explores the potential reasons behind this trend and examines the significance of spot-kicks throughout the campaign.

 The Unique Nature of Penalties

Penalties are straightforward in concept—either they are scored or missed. Despite their simplicity, they are fascinating to analyze due to their unique and isolated nature in football. Penalties can be seen as a controlled experiment with consistent variables such as the location of the kick, the size of the goal, and the goalkeeper's position. These factors make them perfect for statistical analysis.

 Matchweek 28: A Highlight for Penalties

The weekend of March 9/10, 2024, was particularly notable for penalties in the Premier League:

- Alejandro Garnacho became the first Manchester United player to win two penalties in a single game.

- Dominic Solanke's missed penalty was the first and only spot-kick in the 2023/24 season to completely miss the goal frame.

The high quality of penalties this season is highlighted by the fact that Solanke's miss occurred so late in the campaign. Players like Alexis Mac Allister and Bukayo Saka joined the ranks of top penalty takers, and Cole Palmer set a new record for the most penalties taken in a single season without missing, converting nine out of nine.

 Increase in Penalties Awarded

The rate at which penalties were awarded rose toward the end of the 2023/24 season, finishing at 0.28 per game with a total of 107 penalties. This makes 2023/24 one of only nine Premier League seasons to break the 100-penalty mark.

The Expected Goals (xG) value of every penalty is 0.78, meaning historically about 78% of penalties are scored. This high conversion rate underscores the importance of penalties, as they are much more likely to result in goals compared to other types of shots.

 Penalty Conversion Rates

In 2023/24, the Premier League saw a penalty scored every four matches (0.25 per game), the second-highest frequency ever. The conversion rate was an unprecedented 89.7%, surpassing the previous best of 83.9% in 2013/14. This marked a significant increase from the 74.8% conversion rate in 2022/23.

Over the four seasons since 2020/21, 81.9% of penalties have been converted, the highest proportion over a four-year period in Premier League history. This indicates that failing to convert spot-kicks is becoming increasingly rare.

Fewer Penalty Saves

The high conversion rate also means fewer penalties are being saved. In 2023/24, only 7.5% of penalties were saved, the lowest proportion in Premier League history. Alphonse Areola was the only goalkeeper to save more than one penalty, stopping two.

 Historical Context

In 2017/18, goalkeepers had their best season ever for stopping penalties, with 26.3% saved. However, rule changes introduced in 2019/20 requiring goalkeepers to have at least one foot on the goal line during a penalty kick, combined with the introduction of VAR, have limited goalkeepers' chances of making saves.

 The Impact of Left-Footed Takers

One theory for the increased conversion rate is the higher proportion of penalties taken by left-footed players in 2023/24, the highest ever in the Premier League at 41.1%. Players like Mohamed Salah, Bukayo Saka, Erling Haaland, and Cole Palmer contributed to this trend. 

Historically, goalkeepers are more accustomed to the behaviors of right-footed players, potentially giving left-footers an advantage.

 The Psychology of Penalties

For penalty takers, success is as much about psychology and mentality as technical ability. The in-game pressure of taking a penalty in front of thousands of spectators cannot be replicated in training. The technical standard of Premier League players has improved, and the 2023/24 season may have featured more players with the necessary mentality for successful penalty taking.


Penalties have become more valuable than ever, approaching the status of a "free goal" due to the high conversion rates. The 2023/24 Premier League season's record-breaking penalty statistics highlight the evolving nature of the game and the increasing importance of mastering spot-kicks for both players and goalkeepers.

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