Alright, after my last post discussing team performance for the 2017 season it’s now time to dig deeper into Stratagem‘s great dataset and have a look at individual players.
As usual, it’s important to remember that Stratagem collects chances, not shots and also this: only one chance per attacking play is recorded. So for example if a team forces a goalkeeper to a series of saves in a single attack, only the highest rated chance (or a goal if it was scored) is recorded – this of course makes much sense as you can only score a maximum of one goal per attack.
Another difference from most data collectors is that whenever a blocked or saved shot rebounds and leads to a new chance, Stratagem credits the original shooter with an assist for his part in ‘creating’ this new chance. It’s important to note though that this only happens if the rebound chance happens to be of a higher quality than the original chance or end up as a goal, due to the above rule of only one chance per attack.
Lastly, when it comes to minutes played I’ve taken some time to try to calculate it as correctly as possible to get a better look at players ‘true’ performance. Sites like Soccerway seems to set their maximum playing time per match to 90 minutes which is of course wrong as there’s usually a lot of injury time to consider, sometimes even in the first half. So for this post with injury time in both halves taken into consideration you’ll see players which have played more than 30 units of 90 minutes and this also means that most players will see their per90 stats slightly diminished.
All data is open play chances, i.e. penalties are excluded for this post.
But enough of that, let’s get to it and have a look at some numbers. As usual I’ll just throw some plots at you together with my spontane thoughts:
Though sharing honors as the league top scorer at 14 with Magnus Eriksson, the moral winner is Norrköping’s Kalle Holmberg with 13 open play goals while 5 of Eriksson’s goals came from penalties. Eriksson’s 9 open play goals is still very impressive though, seeing him finish joint second together with a group of strong goalscorers, all forwards – while Eriksson has mainly been used in midfield in Özcan Melkemichel’s Djurgården.
Another impressive performance comes from AIK’s Nicolas Stefanelli who managed to reach 9 open play goals despite only arriving during the summer, resulting in him topping the league when it comes to goals scored per 90 minutes. Versatile Bjørn Paulsen‘s 8 goals are equally impressive as he’s been used in both central midfield and defence alongside his starts up front for Hammarby.
Tobias Hysén shows that he’s still to be reckoned with, producing the highest total xG in the league at age 35. I’ve been waiting for his performance to drop for some years now, will he surprise me again next season?
The lack of any real xG per 90 Wizard this season (besides Stefanelli, maybe) sees some surprising names break into the immediate top. Johan Bertilsson, Skhodran Maholli (though he enjoyed an initial strong start to his arrival at Sirius) and Linus Hallenius comes to mind. Impressive of course, but it should be noted that this Allsvenskan season has been lacking the strong goalscoring box-player poacher type like pasts seasons’ Kjartansson, Owoeri and Kujovic. Kalle Holmberg could’ve been that player but IFK Norrköping’s weak end to the season has certainly limited his output to more normal levels.
Eflsborg’s Issam Jebali was the end point of most chances for the season, but when playing time is taken into consideration, AIK’s Nicolas Stefanelli once again reigns supreme.
Comparing goals and xG we see that Stefanelli’s output isn’t that much better than expected, he could very well be the real deal. Another interesting point is that Malmö’s captain Markus Rosenberg continues to underperform against xG.
Looking at how many chances players create and the average quality of those chances should give us at least some sense of their preferred attacking styles. We see here how most strong attacking players tend to cluster around an area of compromise between quality and quantity. In this group, Viktor Prodell, Johan Bertilsson, Henok Goitom and Mohamed Buya Turay tend to rely more on high quality chances (all above 0.20 xG per chance), while David Moberg-Karlsson and Stefanelli prefer to just rack up chance after chance, the latter with some respectable xG per chance as well.
Moses Ogbu is an extreme outlier with over 0.30 xG per chance, explained in part by the fact that he only took part in Sirius’ very strong first half of the season before getting injured. Still a very interesting player, his numbers would likely have dropped a bit had he been fit to play when Sirius struggled (including 7 straight losses) in the second half of the season.
Elfsborg’s Simon Lundevall provided most assist overall but taking playing time into account, IFK Norrköping’s Niclas Eliasson was Allsvenskan’s main creator this season. Racking up 11 assists in the first half of the season before leaving for Bristol City in the Championship, his departure effectively ended Norrköping’s top 3 ambitions.
Magnus Eriksson, Tobias Hysén and Nahir Besara‘s appearance in the Assists Top 10 really shows their versatility and huge importance to their teams’ overall attack.
Just like seen with goals above, some interesting and perhaps surprising names appear when we account for playing time. I certainly didn’t expected to see Sirius’ Elias Andersson or AFC Eskilstuna’s Andrew Fox here, but there you go.
Ken Sema‘s strong finish to the season saw him (besides earning a call-up to ‘Party-‘ Janne Andersson’s national team which beat Italy to advance to the World Cup) top the Expected Assists table at roughly 11, though 3 less than his actual output. Sema has also been performing well in Östersund’s Europa League campagin and is one of many players they’ll have to work hard to keep over the winter transfer window.
Nostalgic as I am, it’s certainly nice to see my boyhood hero Kim Källström racking up some strong numbers placing him in the Top 10 Assists and xA tables, as well as creating most chances in the league overall and 4th most when taking playing time into consideration.
Comparing assists and xA we see how Niclas Eliasson has been outperforming his expected output (likely thanks to some effective scoring from Kalle Homberg) while Ken Sema has been underperforming. Lundevall is closer to his expected output.
Just like with the Attacking Styles, Player Chance Creation Styles are mostly clustered with a lot of creative players combining reasonable quality with quantity. Ken Sema, Elias Andersson and Yoshimar Yotún (who left Malmö for the MLS in the summer) are the extremes when it comes to creation volume, while Andreas Vindheim has created some very good chances for Malmö.
By combining goals and assists into Attacking Production we see that Besara was the most productive player when it comes to raw numbers, but when factoring in playing time, Stefanelli once again tops the table in both expected and actual output. Prodell has done well considering his playing time, as well as Malmö’s Alexander Jeremejeff who’s second behind Stefanelli in xG+A per 90 minutes.
Djurgården’s both wingers break into the Total Chance Production table, with Othman El Kabir joining Eriksson just below the top trio. Paulinho was the most productive attacking player though, creating over 5 chances per 90 minutes for Häcken.
Looking at actual and expected output, we see how most strong attacking players like Besara, Jebali, Homberg, Eriksson, Hysén and Stefanelli tend to perform close to what we can expected. Eliasson is again overperforming while Rosenberg is doing the opposite. Eric Larsson is worth a special mention here as he has produced some fine numbers for a fullback, with his underperformance coming largely from his teammates in Sundsvall underperforming on the chances he created for them.
Seperating Expected Goals and Expected Assists let us see how the attacking players specialise. Once again we see how this season has really lacked many strong specialist, with only Stefanelli and Sema really standing out on their ends. Most players tend to cluster somewhat here as well, combining creativity with being at the end of chances as well.
As I now work with StrataData, I’d thought I’d do a total revamp of the popular player maps. The style is more or less shamelessly stolen from a range of other analysts, no names mentioned, and now also include Chance Creation Maps:
As mentioned earlier, Kalle Holmberg was this season’s strongest goalscorer, and from his Chance Map it’s easy to see why: he usually gets into some very good positions just in front of goal, with an average xG of 0.19 per chance. 13 open play goals is strong, but as I’ve also mentioned I think he could’ve done even better had IFK Norrköping’s performance not dropped (and Niclas Eliasson not left).
Operating from Djurgården’s right wing, Magnus Eriksson was another strong goalscorer this season, though a bit more versatile as he also provided a lot of assists for his team. Mostly crosses from the right flank but also two shot rebounds. His Chance Map is a bit different from Holmberg’s with more chances outside the box, which is only natural as he’s after all a midfielder. Though attacking is certainly his main quality, Djurgården will also miss his work ethic, grit and competitiveness now that he’s left for the MLS.
Veteran Tobias Hysén continues to be extremely important to IFK Göteborg’s attack. His Chance Map combines a lot of good chances inside the box with some poorer outside, some of them direct free kick. When it comes to Chance Creation he’s provided some crucial passing inside and into the box, as well as some corners and free kicks.
Örebro’s Nahir Besara was also extremely important to his team’s attack, combining some chances inside the box with a lot of shooting from outside, including one goal from a direct free kick. His creation numbers are boosted by three rebounds who turned into goals, otherwise it’s mostly corners and crosses into the box.
Nicolás Stefanelli arrived at AIK at a crucial time this summer, with the team’s attack struggling during the first half of the season. The Argentinian took some time to adopt but slowly turned into to a real strong presence up front, scoring 9 goals from 14 starts. It will be very interesting indeed to see if he can continue his fine performance come the new season. As a Djurgården supporter, I sure hope not.
Linus Hallenius is an interesting case that’s flown under at least my radar this season. With 7 goals and nearly 10 xG he’s done well for a struggling Sundsvall side that just barely managed to stay up. Most of his chances have been created by Eric Larsson, so it’ll be very interesting to see if Hallenius can continue his fine performance next season with the right back having left for champions Malmö.
Elfsborg’s Simon Lundevall was the assist king this season at 12, with 4 of them coming from corners, curiously with some rather high xA values – 3 of them are above 0.30 xA. Maybe Elfsborg have some corner strong routine going on? Lundevall has also provided some long range passes on the left half of the pitch, which I guess is related to counter-attacking.
Niclas Eliasson’s strong first half of a season earned him a move abroad, and as mentioned earlier IFK Norrköping never really looked the same after that. Overperfoming, sure, but he did create some really good chances for his team with his precise crossing from both flanks.
Ken Sema was another creation monster, racking up some really good chances with an average xA per chance of 0.18. It’s clear to see why, as most of his passes was either directly inside the box, or ending up in it – a direct consequence of Östersund’s heavily passing-oriented style of attack.
Though it stopped at just one season before he chose to end his career, Kim Källström’s long-awaited return to Djurgården was (despite some very inconsistent perfomances) instrumental in returning the team he once won the league with in two consecutive seasons at the start of the millenium, back to the top 3. When he was at his best this season, sitting back in his deep-lying playmaker role he dictated much of Djurgården’s attack with his quarter-back ‘Hail Mary’ style of long passing. Interestingly though, all his assists came from set pieces where he got more time to use his precise left foot.
I mentioned Eric Larsson before and looking at his Chance Creation Map we see clearly how strong a player he is. From his right back position at struggling Sundsvall he produced 52 chances and well over 6 xA – more than most midfielders. Though his teammates only managed to score twice on these chances, with his move to Malmö I expect him to get a lot more assists next season.
That’s it, thank you for reading the whole piece. If you want to see any more Player Chance/Creation Maps, just let me know on Twitter.
This article was written with the aid of StrataData, which is property of Stratagem Technologies. StrataData powers the StrataBet Sports Trading Platform, in addition to StrataBet Premium Recommendations.