How sustainable is a striker’s peak form? In the beginning of the season Ivan Santini and Landry Dimata started the season on a high. Now Mbwana Samatta joined Dimata as the most in-form striker, having both scored 4 times in the last 5 games in the JPL. This article examines which strikers in the JPL have high chances to continue their current form.

As a preliminary note, we are not (and do not claim to be) football data specialists. We believe football data can be interesting to analyse the performance of our clients and their (future) clubs. Therefore, please feel free to comment. We welcome all feedback on how we could better interpret and use football data.

  1. Goal contributions of the JPL leading goalscorers

The table below (Figure 1) shows the current topscorers ranking (first column) from the first 13 games in the Jupiler Pro League. At the top, we can find Landry Dimata and Mbwana Samatta, the leading goal scorers with 9 goals. The second column gives a broader image and depicts the number of goals per 90 min, taking into account the time on the pitch. Here we see that Leandro Trossard comes closer to the title of ‘Gouden Stier’, overthrowing Ivan Santini from the third spot

Figure 1: The JPL’s leading topscorers in terms of goals and goals per 90 min

The impressive scoring streak of Landry Dimata for example could however have been the result from RSC Anderlecht’s explosive start where RSCA scored 9 goals in their first 2 games (1-4 against KV Kortrijk and 5-2 against KV Oostende). We could therefore ask ourselves the question whether Dimata’s goal tally is sustainable, looking at Anderlecht’s current form. This could mean that a striker will get less clear-cut chances from less fruitful shotpositions, which could hamper his goal scoring production. This in contrast to, competitors like Leandro Trossard and Mbwana Samatta who at the moment can rely on a better performing team. Genk’s form and tacticts were demonstrated by Onder de Muur in one of their recent articles.

Now who of these strikers is destined to become the JPL’s next ‘gouden stier’, is the million dollar question. Some striker’s goal scoring record could be hampering in the next months, while other strikers could be very efficient in front of goal. Predicting these developments is difficult. Nevertheless some interesting indicators exist.

  1. Expected goals (xG)

To evaluate whether a striker can live up to his current goal scoring tally, expected goals (xG) can be used. Expected goals (xG) measure the quality of a shot i.e. its likelihood that a shot is converted into a goal. Using this approach every shot gets a value between 0 and 1 based on several factors like e.g. shot angles, distance from goal and whether it was a headed shot. Adding up a player’s expected goals gives us therefore an indication of how many goals a player should have scored, given the sort of shots he has taken.

Figure 2 puts this in practice by depicting both the number of goals per 90 min and the expected goals (xG) per 90 min for the top 30 leading goalscorers in the JPL. Strikers who are situated on the blue trend line score the amount of goals which can be expected from the quality of their offered chances. This in contrast to strikers who are above the trend line, they are overperforming, meaning that when their finishing is not exceptionally better than their competitors, their current goal scoring record is unsustainable.

Figure 2: Goals per 90 min and expected goals (xG) per 90 min in the JPL 18/19 (first 11 games)

Using these metrics we can ask ourselves the question who will be most likely to finish first in the JPL’s goal scorer list. Looking at Figure 2, both Landry Dimata and Mbwana Samatta are overperforming somewhat in terms of their goal scoring production, being above the blue trend line. Nevertheless, it could be doubtful that Landry Dimata will stay on top, as his close competitor Mbwana Samatta is expected to maintain his goal scoring tally more easily, having higher expected goals. Samatta’s expected goals, in particular, indicate that the striker often shoots from positions with a high goal scoring probability. Therefore, he will be likely to continue his current goal scoring form. This in contrast to Landry Dimata, who will only stay above Samatta when his finishing allows him to score the same amount of goals from less profitable positions.

Also the other strikers from the top 5 (Santini, Trossard, Malinovsky and Wesley) seem to overperform a little, being above the blue trend line. Therefore, Mbwana Samatta is expected to maintain his goal scoring record the most easily. Based on the data he could be a big favorite for the top scorers title in the JPL.

Next to the top 5 goalscorers, Jelle Vossen from Club Brugge stands out, being far below the trend line. Figure 3 also stresses the bad luck Jelle Vossen had with his recent injury. Based on expected goals, he could have been one of the top strikers in the JPL this season, being a big contendor for the ‘gouden stier’.

  1. Conclusion

Figure 2 gave an indication of which developments we could expect in the race for the ‘gouden stier’, the JPL’s topscorer’s title. Data from expected goals indicates that of the two leading goal scorers in the JPL (Landry Dimata and Mbwana Samatta), Mbwana Samatta has the highest chance to come out on top.































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