Talking Tactics

Swansea must beware ruthless Rooney

By Adrian Clarke 17 Dec 2017
Wayne Rooney, Everton

Ahead of Everton's match with the Welsh side, Adrian Clarke on the stats that make Wayne Rooney Europe's deadliest striker

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Just six weeks after Wayne Rooney seemed out of Everton’s first team, he has become the driving force behind their revival. Adrian Clarke looks at his transformation.

Rooney revival

How quickly the fortunes of a footballer can change.

Rooney was struggling after his return to his boyhood club, but since the arrival of Sam Allardyce as manager the 32-year-old has thrived.

He has scored five goals in four matches, taking his season's total to nine in 2017/18, putting him alongside Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata as joint-fourth in the division’s goalscoring chart.

Ruthless finishing

Since returning to Merseyside in the summer Rooney has shown ice-cold finishing.

Scoring nine goals from just 12 shots on target, and 21 efforts overall, not including blocked shots, Rooney boasts an incredible 43% conversion rate.

When you compare that return with the PL’s other leading marksmen it stacks up quite brilliantly.

Top scorers Goals Conv. rate
Salah 14 26%
Kane 12 17%
Sterling 11 33%
Aguero 10 24%
Lukaku 10 21%
Rooney 9 43%
Morata 9 24%

When you factor in "blocked shots", Rooney boasts a 37.5% conversion success and, ahead of the weekend’s matches, that makes him European football’s most deadly finisher.

Monaco's Radamel Falcao and Real Betis’s Antonio Sanabria are closest in this department with 33.3%.

The nearest Premier League rival in this metric is Manchester City's Raheem Sterling with 25%.

Rooney has enjoyed some standout campaigns in his prestigious career but has never come close to being this clinical.

Rooney's top seasons for open-play shots
Season Team Goals Shots Shots scored
2017/18 EVE 7 21 33.3%
2014/15 MUN 11 67 16.4%
2012/13 MUN 11 75 14.7%
2011/12 MUN 19 133 14.3%
2009/10 MUN 22 166 13.3%
Deep impact

Rooney has been at his best this season when making long runs into the penalty area without being tracked.

He still has a keen eye for how a move is going to develop and a knack of knowing where the ball might arrive in the penalty area.

This intuition has helped him score four of his nine goals so far.

Drifting unnoticed into goalscoring positions against Stoke City, Manchester City, West Ham United and Newcastle United, Rooney’s natural anticipation has reaped great rewards.

If Swansea City do not keep close tabs on him whenever the ball is fed wide, Rooney could make them pay on Monday night.

Very few Premier League players are better at ghosting into the box than Rooney.

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