It’s a great thing when something pops out unexpectedly from a plot. And even more so when it shows how data can help show the value of the less expected gems among players.
Here we have a plot of PL goalscorers that shows expected goals totals and volume of shots.
What struck me was how well grouped along the average line the highest scorers are. That was a benefit of colour coding for goals scored.
The question is begged, is that an accident?
I don’t think so. It’s because the most successful goalscorers don’t fire off shots wildly, but shoot from good locations.
Most of the PL’s top scorers are in the top right of the chart. That’s where you end up if you get lots of shots off and rack up a decent xG total.
Now, digging deeper into that top right quadrant you could be like Mohamed Salah, who has had the most shots in the league, but for whom the xG-per-shot ratio comes out as less than optimally efficient. You’d guess he’s been shooting from some low-xG locations.
The opposite is true for, eg Chris Woods, who tends to bang in headers from about 3 yards out. So, he gets a lowish shot count (playing for Burnley explains that) but high xG.
So, the guys with the red points strung out along the average line — Vardy, Aguero, Ings, Aubameyang, Abraham — are the ones that have struck a good balance between volume of shots and xG totals. They’re the ones getting into good positions to score, regularly shooting, and scoring.
Among them, Danny Ings is well worth taking note of as the only player from outside the top four (13th at the time of writing).
Playing for a club that’s struggled for big chunks of the season, and that has often meant struggling to get into goalscoring positions as a team, he has done remarkably well. It speaks volumes about his ability to fight for good goalscoring positions in quite adverse situations.