Real life has slowed down my blog posting, so to the 20 people checking the blog with no updates I apologize. You should have seen the great ideas I had while I toiled away at my day job. I thought of a way to get Bonds and Griffey for Dundee United and they wouldn’t have to give up that much! Regardless, I have tried to keep up with the SPFL xG leaders and Advanced Stats Team Tables as matches have occurred. Things are getting tight eh? After having some experiencing some good fortune in the early part of the season, Aberdeen’s latest run has been backed up by “the stats” and we just might have a title race on. Friend of the blog Seth at Fitba Fancy Stats posted a great graphic after Wednesday’s 2-1 Aberdeen victory over Celtic and it showed Celtic managing a meager 0.38 xG and a whopping 0 danger zone shots. That is some bottom of the table type attack from the Bhoys.
The reasons that both Celtic and Aberdeen have been performing so well this season have a lot to do with who they have lining up at Striker. Leigh Griffiths and Adam Rooney both have their respective team Player of the Year awards all but locked up and both have a good shout at Player of the Year for the whole League. They are 1 and 2 in the xG total in and in actual goals scored in the league. Just why are they so successful? Much smarter guy than me Colin Trainor tweeted this image in a discussion about the comparison of shots on target percentage and shot quality (i.e. higher xG). Unsurprisingly, with data from the “Big 5 leagues” (Scotland very much not included in that, but I digress), the higher the xG the higher the chance of a shot on target. I wanted to use this idea and see if it was leading to some of the success that Griffiths, Rooney, and The Backpass Rule Superhero Liam Boyce were experiencing.
Now, before I post the graphs, I first want to preface this with saying this a very very small sample size. I am not trying to prove some overarching point but rather look at if the more successful SPFL Premiership strikers are experiencing success with a high number of shots on target. And it looks like that is the case when we look at xG p 90 over Shots on Target percentage and xG Total over Shots on Target percentage.
Griffiths, Rooney, and Boyce all amongst the top of both xG total and xG per 90 minutes and have Shots on Target percentages over 50%. Kane Hemmings has been carrying Dundee on his back and seems to be locked in on getting shots between the sticks as well. Clearly the above mentioned strikers are able to get into good positions based on their high xG numbers and are able to get their shots on target because of it. Now before you tell me, “Hey number nerd, your fancy “expected fantasy goals” are fun and stuff in your air conditioned offices (it’s currently 2 degrees Celsius where I am right now so why would I have the air conditioning on?), but real life actual goals on the field are what matter!” Well Irritated Old Man who hates these newfangled fancy stats, I have the graph for you!
It’s probably not revolutionary stuff to hypothesize that if you have a higher number of shots on target, you score more goals. Griffiths, Rooney, Boyce and Hemmings all have above 50% SOT and are amongst the goal leaders in the league. Only Kris Commons is amongst the xG Top 10 and below 40% SOT, though perhaps having tonsils the size of footballs may effect your ability to shoot on target.