Attack breakdowns: Premier League, 19 Dec 2017

It feels like enough time has passed to update the club-by-club attack breakdowns. These are explained in detail here, but in summary they are simple scatter graphics that work as follows:


Each graphic shows a club’s main attacking players: those who have:

  1. Featured for at least a third of their total pitch minutes in the league this season, and
  2. Taken an average of at least one shot per game.

The size of each player’s bubble is proportional to the percentage of possible minutes that they’ve played.

Each player’s bubble is plotted on a chart with the two axes working like this:

  • On the horizontal axis we have their goal threat, based on the “expected goals” value of shots taken per 90 minutes. This is effectively a measure of the combined quality of their goalscoring chances.
  • On the vertical axis we have their scoring rate, using a less abstract measure of actual number of goals scored per 90 minutes.

Both axes exclude penalties, as those can massively skew a player’s contribution away from the threat they pose from open play.

There’s a shaded “stripe” which indicates the long-term shot conversion rate of all finishers except the top and bottom 10%, so we can identify those whose performance may be unsustainable (i.e. unlikely to be repeated next season). If a player is above the stripe, they’re converting chances at a rate consistent with someone in the top 10% of finishers, and likewise a player below the line is in the worst 10%. Based on what we know about the specific player, we can therefore take a view on whether we expect their scoring rate to continue.

Club-by-club graphics

To say that Gabriel Jesus has slotted in seamlessly at Man City is an understatement – he looks to be the Premier League’s most dangerous attacker, while Raheem Sterling looks to be on something of a hot streak so far.

Another player outperforming his expected goals numbers – unsurprisingly – is Liverpool‘s Mohamed Salah, who is netting at a phenomenal rate that I suspect won’t last all season. However the quality of chances he’s getting on the end of suggests that he will continue to bang them in at an impressive rate regardless.

Leicester should probably be giving Shinji Okazaki more time on the pitch – even if his scoring rate cools down a bit, he’s still looking far more dangerous than anyone else in the Foxes’ front line. The same can be said for Charlie Austin at Southampton, although I’m not sure how much injuries have played a part in his absences.

Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace is the highest-profile underachiever so far – given his pedigree I’d expect his scoring rate to increase as the season wears on – and if he sticks around I’d also expect more from Arsenal‘s Alexis Sanchez.