Now that the dust has settled on the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, it’s an apt time to reflect on some of the best and worst performers.
In an age dominated by statistical data, we can now form a number of intriguing conclusions that would otherwise be impossible to quantify.
The rise of the expected goal metric (XG), in particular, has altered our understanding of the game.
Anyone who’s watched Brighton & Hove Albion closely enough this season will be aware that their 16th-place finish wasn’t a fair reflection on how impressive they’ve been.
According to data provided by Understat, Graham Potter’s side should have finished in 5th place ahead of Leicester City, West Ham, Arsenal and Spurs.
Clearly, they are the biggest underachievers in the division this season.
But who are the most underachieving individuals and who has overperformed?
Well, an end-of-season article published by The Athletic attempted to answer some of these questions.
Within the article they identify the top 10 most and least clinical goal scorers in the division.
By using XG and comparing it with each player’s final output, the article names the top 10 players who scored more than the stats expected and shames the top 10 players with the worst disparities between XG and their final season tallies.
Let’s start with those players who left their shooting boots in 2019/20…
The Premier League’s least clinical players:
10. Ivan Cavaleiro (Fulham) -2.8
9. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) -2.9
8. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) -2.9
7. Richarlison (Everton) -2.9
6. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) -3.2
5. Michail Antonio (West Ham) -3.6
4. Mbaye Diagne (West Bromwich Albion) -3.6
3. Neal Maupay (Brighton & Hove Albion) -5.1
2. Timo Werner (Chelsea) -5.4
1. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) -5.8
Jamie Vardy’s struggle for goal scoring form in the 2020/21 season was well documented and his place in top spot here underlines just how wasteful he was.
The Leicester hitman managed just seven goals from an expected 12.8, while Timo Werner’s own disaster in front of goal has made him a regularly tormented figure of ridicule.
The Football Terrace: Villarreal v Manchester United UEL Final Preview | Chelsea to sell Hudson-Odoi | Sancho Update
It’s no surprise to see the Chelsea forward in close second, and Sadio Mane’s inclusion as the sixth-worst finisher in the league caps off a thoroughly disappointing season for the typically lethal Senegal international.
The Premier League’s most clinical players:
10. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) +4
9. Phil Foden (Manchester City) +4
8. James Maddison (Leicester City) 4.2
7. Joe Willock (Newcastle United) +4.3
6. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) 4.3
5. Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City) +4.6
4. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) +4.6
3. Jesse Lingard (West Ham) +4.7
2. Gareth Bale (Spurs) +4.7
1. Son Heung-min (Spurs) +7.1
At the opposite end of the spectrum to Vardy is Son Heung-min, who scored 16 goals despite being expected to notch just 8.9.
That’s an outrageous juxtaposition and one that he owes a great debt to his partner-in-crime Harry Kane for.
Elsewhere it’s no surprise to see three Manchester City players on the list.
Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden all have an eye for the spectacular and are capable of scoring goals from tight angles and long distance – qualities that have undoubtedly helped them into the top 10 here.
Newcastle United sensation Joe Willock took everyone by surprise following his loan move from Arsenal.
He exceeded statistical expectations during a stunning run of form that saw him become only the second player after Alan Shearer to score in seven consecutive Premier League matches for the Magpies.