Having looked at the top scoring strikers in the league in a previous post on the race for the golden boot, I now turn my attention to shooting statistics for the leading target men at teams in the bottom half of the table. Players for these teams often ply their trade as a lone striker, with less than average support from midfield. As a result the pressure on them to score every gilt-edged chance is high since every goal is precious for their club to ensure survival.
After only 16 games of the season played these players all have 6 goals or less, so each goal or missed opportunity has a strong bearing on their stats (disclaimer!).
The strikers considered this time round are Djibril Cissé (QPR), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Adam Le Fondre (Reading), Arouna Koné (Wigan) and Rickie Lambert (Southampton). Cissé, who has played the least in terms of outfield minutes, has also scored the least with only 2 goals for winless QPR. Rickie Lambert is the most prolific goalscorer so far with 6 goals for Southampton. At the time of writing QPR sit 20th in the league with 7pts and Reading just ahead of them on 9pts, whilst Wigan, Aston Villa and Southampton are all level on 15pts. All stats correct as at 12 December, using EPL Index / Opta data.
Of the 5 strikers, Arouna Koné takes the fewest shots with only 2.49 per 90mins, on average this is far less than Cissé, Benteke and Le Fondre, who each manage to shoot over 3.5 times per 90mins. But shots alone do not necessarily indicate the quality of opportunities on hand – indeed the current league top scorer Michu currently has a shots per 90mins rate of 3.13. Cissé’s low shots on target rate at under 30%, of which only a paltry 20% have been goals, has not done much to help QPR’s cause.
Le Fondre and Lambert are easily outperforming the others from this perspective because the quality of their shots is shown to be generally much higher – and so although they take fewer shots per game their goalscoring rates are significantly better off (c0.45 goals per 90mins). Lambert has a particularly good record of making the opposition keeper work when he has a shot: he has hit the target 47.4% of the time.
When it comes to big chances, Koné in particular fares poorly. Although both he and Cissé have a conversion rate of 25%, Koné has had several more gilt-edged chances than Cissé (12 vs 4 respectively). Roberto Martinez will no doubt be disappointed by the return from Koné, however on the plus side the sheer frequency of big chances he is involved in may be a positive sign for the team’s prospects. The small sample size for Cissé means that his conversion rate of 25% perhaps does him a disservice at this point in time – if he scores his next one it’ll jump up to 40%.
Benteke, who in recent weeks has kept Darren Bent out of the Aston Villa team, does not perform particularly well in this analysis. Judged purely by the stats in this post he resembles Cissé much more than Lambert, with below average shooting accuracy and below par big chance conversion.
Of the group, unsurprisingly it is Lambert again who does best with big chances with an excellent conversion rate of 75% (3 from 4). When Southampton have needed him most so far he has come up with the goods, but whether that form continues for the rest of the season is another matter.