Clinical Haaland has edge over chasing pack

By Adrian Clarke 12 Dec 2022

Adrian Clarke analyses the stats for the players vying to be this season's top scorer

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As we prepare for the return of the Premier League on 26 December, Adrian Clarke looks at some of the numbers behind the season so far.

Golden Boot

The race for this season’s Castrol Golden Boot has a runaway leader, with Manchester City forward Erling Haaland on course to rewrite the record books having already racked up 18 goals at a blistering pace.

Scoring at a rate of once every 57.8 minutes, the 22-year-old has been phenomenal in his first few months as a Premier League player.

But how does Haaland compare to the division's other leading strikers this term? Here are some of the patterns that have emerged.

Clinical difference

As you might expect, Haaland boasts the most clinical shot-conversion rate among the top five goalscorers.

The Norwegian has not attempted as many shots as Harry Kane (12 goals) or Aleksandar Mitrovic (nine goals), but when chances fall his way, he is exceptionally clinical and that has set him apart.

Haaland's goal v Brighton

Haaland's 41.86 per cent success rate from shots is way in advance of last season's most accurate finisher, Son Heung-min, who scored 23 times for Tottenham Hotspur at a conversion rate of 33.3 per cent.

When the Man City forward hits the target, those strikes invariably beat the goalkeeper. From 28 efforts on target, he has scored 18 times.

Best conversion-rate comparison 2022/23
Conversion rate % (excl. blocks) Big-chance conversion rate %
Erling Haaland 41.86 Rodrigo 77.78
Rodrigo 34.62 Erling Haaland 66.67
Harry Kane 30.00 Harry Kane 62.50
Ivan Toney 27.00 Aleksandar Mitrovic 46.15
Aleksandar Mitrovic 20.00 Ivan Toney 42.11

Leeds United star Rodrigo, who has produced nine goals, is certainly worthy of high praise in this department.

His 34.62 per cent strike rate for Leeds is excellent and of the current top five in the goal charts, he dispatches the highest number of big chances, too (77.78 per cent).

The only player in his group not to have scored more than one penalty, Rodrigo has been razor sharp this season.

Kane improvement

It is also worth noting that Kane can put the disappointment of England's FIFA World Cup 2022 exit behind him knowing that his finishing has been terrific for Spurs.

He has scored with 30 per cent of his efforts this term, compared to 17.53 per cent in 2021/22.

All the division's leading scorers are exceeding their Expected Goals (xG) figures.

According to Opta, Haaland should only have scored 8.69 non-penalty goals so far, a figure he has more than doubled in reality as a result of his ruthless shooting.

Rodrigo and Kane are the next two most impressive performers in this regard, scoring three more goals than anticipated.

Expected-goals comparison 2022/23
Player Non-penalty xG Goals (exc. pens) Difference
Haaland 8.69 15 9.31
Kane 7.08 10 2.92
Toney 5.69 7 1.31
Rodrigo 4.70 8 3.30
Mitrovic 4.65 6 1.35

Who has the most varied finishing?

All five of these leading scorers have been a threat in the air.

Getting on the end of crosses, Haaland, Kane, Mitrovic, Rodrigo and Ivan Toney have netted a recorded 15 headed goals between them so far.

Surprisingly, Brentford's 10-goal Toney, a player who wins an extraordinary number of aerial duels, is the only member of this select group not to have scored three headers.

Kane has five to his name, anticipating flick-ons and the flight of the ball expertly during the early stages of this campaign.

Haaland and Rodrigo score the bulk of their goals with their left foot, while Mitrovic and Toney are predominantly right-footed.

Goals breakdown 2022/23
  Left Right Head In box Out. box
Haaland 12 3 3 17 1
Kane* 1 5 5 11 1
Toney 1 8 1 8 2
Rodrigo 5 1 3 9 0
Mitrovic 0 6 3 9 0

* Excludes one of Kane's goals off his shoulder
Time will tell whether Haaland can sustain his strike rate, which has been outlandish considering he is new to English football.

And even if he does not maintain this incredible run of form, he is well on course to exceed the 30-goal mark.

Best minutes per goal 2022/23
Player Mins per goal
Haaland 57.83
Rodrigo 99.22
Mitrovic 99.22
Toney 126

Nobody else at the top end of the goal charts comes close to matching him right now, but Kane is the most likely contender to push Haaland for the Golden Boot.

If the Norway international sustains an injury that keeps him out for an extended period, Kane looks best equipped to maintain his goal rate.

Mitrovic, Toney and Rodrigo have all been very productive, but playing for teams currently sat in the bottom half of the table, it looks like it will be more difficult for them to sustain a season-long challenge for top-scoring honours.

Mohamed Salah (six goals) and Darwin Nunez (five), are both capable of putting fantastic goalscoring runs together, but it looks like they have too much ground to make up.

Also in this series

Part 2: Why Pope and Ramsdale lead race for Golden Glove
Part 3: Why De Bruyne is clear leader for Playmaker award

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