Players who really should have scored by now
When I was generating the inaugural batch of “attacking threat breakdown” graphics the other week I spotted a few players who had been on the end of plenty of chances but had yet to find the net.
I thought it’d be interesting to list the players who’ve racked up the highest cumulative ‘expected goals’ total in the league without finding the net so far. As usual I’ve stripped out penalties from the data due to their skewing effect, which is why Spurs’ Vincent Janssen features ((his only Premier League goal so far came from the spot).
So there are 15 players across the top four divisions who are goalless despite having sufficient chances to score twice so far. Poor Chris O’Grady is way out in the lead: he’s gotten himself on the end of enough opportunities to have netted five goals already, but hasn’t found the net yet. Two others have had over three goals’ worth of chances and both are also playing for clubs who look to be underachieving this season.
Let’s take a look at the top three in more detail, using a slightly modified version of the club-specific breakdowns (explained in the link at the top of this post and briefly in the notes beneath each).
I’ve added a new element since the initial batch – a coloured diagonal strip that denotes the conversion rate of all attacking players except the top 10% and bottom 10% of finishers. The purpose of this is to identify players whose shot conversion rate looks either unsustainable or the work of unusual finishing ability (for either better or worse).
Let’s start at the top of the list by comparing Chris O’Grady’s output with that of his team-mates:
We can see that nobody has had more goalscoring chances for Burton per 90 minutes than O’Grady, so his barren spell is a concern and may explain why they’ve been underachieving a bit this season compared with the balance chances they’ve created and allowed.
Peter Løhmann, who is a fan of Sheffield Wednesday (one of O’Grady’s many former clubs), responded to my original tweet (which I stupidly timed to clash with the FA Cup draw yesterday) to suggest that he’s more of a link man than out-and-out-goalscorer, so perhaps Burton need to position other attackers differently to get the best out of him:
Looking next at the second player in the list, MK Dons’ Nicky Maynard:
Maynard’s barren spell looks like slightly less of a problem than O’Grady’s as there are two other players getting on the end of some decent chances. However Ben Reeves has also been less productive than you’d expect – perhaps due to him being a midfielder rather than an out-and-out striker – and Ryan Colclough is also more of a winger, so MK Dons may be lacking a more traditional route to goal. The modest size of Maynard’s circle – which is linked to the percentage of possible minutes played – shows that he’s spent a lot of time off the pitch this season, so it could be that midfielders are having to step up in the absence of an attacking focal point further up the pitch.
Lastly let’s check out the third player on the list, Accrington’s Jordan Clark:
While Accrington have been League 2’s most wasteful finishers this season – the 12.2 shots they’ve taken for each goal scored is two higher than the next worst average – it doesn’t look like we can lay the blame at Clark’s door. He’s not exactly hogging all the chances – Terry Gornell and Billy Kee are both getting more – and Romauld Boco’s hot streak (which unfortunately looks sufficiently far enough from the shaded zone to be considered unsustainable) is more than compensating for Clark’s lack of goals so far.