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Fulham's penalty woes will be studied by statisticians for decades to come

The rate at which Fulham is missing penalties is unprecedented and makes zero sense.

Reading v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Fulham have been awarded nine penalties this year. Only two have found the back of the net. If you want to be depressed, watch this compilation.

One of the most amazing things about this is that only one of these attempts missed the target (Sone Aluko hitting the post against QPR). This is bordering on ridiculous. About 77% of penalties from the run of play are scored. That number climbs to 85% when the penalty hits the target. We’re going to do some quick math. This is the formula for calculating the odds of this happening:

This looks a little daunting, but it’s mostly just a matter of plugging numbers. In our case n is the number of attempts, k is the number of successes, p is the probability of success. Let’s plug in some numbers. First let’s look at all nine penalties:

If a penalty should score 77% of the time, you’d only expect a team to score two penalties .073% of the time. We should only see a performance like this once out of every 1400 seasons. Given that there are 72 teams in the Football League and another 20 in the Premier League, you’d expect a team to be this bad once every 15 years! But it gets worse. Remember that Fulham have had eight of the shots hit the target. The odds of scoring a penalty when you hit the target climbs to 85%. Here’s what that looks like:

Now we’re looking at something that should happen about every 4400 seasons. Which works out to once every 47 years across the top three divisions.

I can’t answer why Fulham have been this bad. All of their penalties have been low, which lowers the make percentage from 85% down to about 80%. Sure not all of them have been great, but you’d expect the keeper to dive the wrong way a couple of times. If there is anything here to really criticize, it’s that the keeper dove to the left every time. Fulham also went left every time but one (Aluko hitting the post). Perhaps they should try going right more often and mix in one in the upper part of the net?

What do you think Fulham needs to do to address this? Can they?