Which EFL attackers look the most impressive so far?
It’s still early days in the EFL season but I wanted to take a quick look at which attacking players were showing the most promise. Using the same expected goals data that powers my timelines and scatter graphics, I ranked every player in descending order of the quality of goalscoring chances they’d been on the end of.
I then filtered out those who had featured for less than 50% of their club’s league minutes this season (to remove silly stuff like Colchester’s Courtney Senior scoring 4.4 expected goals per game thanks to a successful 10-minute run-out this weekend). The top 20 players from that filtered list have been dropped into the graphic below – hopefully it’s self-explanatory, but in a nutshell chance quality goes from left to right and scoring rate (excluding penalties as these tend to skew comparisons) from bottom to top:
If you’re not a fan of expected goals then the vertical position of each player tells you how frequently they’ve found the net, but when we compare their actual goals with what their chances would have yielded on average we can make some useful assessments about whose scoring rates might be unsustainable. For a bit of context, check out the club-by-club versions of this chart from last season here.
I fully expect this picture to change quite a bit over the course of this season, but it’s still a useful “tyre kick” of who we should be getting excited about.
Players likely to cool down
The further a player is above the green dashed line, the more their actual goalscoring rate is higher than the rate their chances suggest is sustainable over the long term.
Jack Marriott of Peterborough has enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, netting almost one and a half goals per game, and – while I don’t expect that to persist over the whole campaign – he’s not looking far off being a “goal per game” striker as things stand. Obviously that assumes that he and his team-mates will create a similar volume of chances over the whole season.
Fleetwood‘s Devante Cole looks far less likely to sustain his current scoring rate without a lot more service, as he’s netted around three times as many goals as the data suggests an average player would. I make it four goals from seven shots overall, which I wouldn’t expect anyone to maintain over even half a season.
I’d also suggest that Kieffer Moore of Rotherham is scoring roughly twice as regularly as I’d expect, although it’s hard to begrudge him a hot streak after a disappointing campaign at Ipswich last season.
Players likely to heat up
Conversely, players sitting below the dashed line have scored a lower rate than their chances would suggest, and the further from the line the more I’d suspect that bad luck had something to do with it.
Both Carlisle‘s Richie Bennett and Marc-Antoine Fortune of Southend look unlucky not to have found the back of the net so far. It looks like they could easily have had a couple of goals each already (0.5 – 0.6 per 90 minutes over four games) so I’d expect then to get off the mark soon enough.
With Shrewsbury‘s Carlton Morris second getting on the end of chances as good as anybody’s (apart from Marriott’s), it seems as though he could have been scoring at twice the rate so far.
Cardiff‘s Kenneth Zohore and Millwall‘s Lee Gregory have also performed well in teams who have started strongly, but haven’t found the net as often as I’d expect. Given the impressive showings of their sides so far, I wouldn’t bet against them both reaching double figures this season.
I’ll revisit this data a bit later in the season to see how it’s settling down – perhaps around the 10-game mark – and then halfway through the season I’ll produce another batch of club-by-club graphics so we can see where each team’s attacking threat is coming from.