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Sep 22, 2020 β€’ 5 tweets β€’ 3 min read
🧡 THREAD: What's happened to Gyasi Zardes?

Zardes has scored 10 goals in just over 1,000' this year in MLS. Yet all of his overall ratings are basically the same as last season... and fairly mediocre... except for his finishing:

1/4 #Crew96 #MLS #Zardes #USMNT Image
Zardes's shot quality is the same, on average, as last season, but his conversion rate is through the roof. We think some of it is sustainable, though probably not all, since these numbers are just wacky (in a Zardes kind of way):

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So what happened? Well, take a look at Zardes's shot maps from open play in 2019 and 2020. We've switched off the headers. It seems like he's taking a higher proportion of his shots from the left side. Could it be as simple as that?

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Zardes's overall positioning has moved slightly to the left this season (check out the free smartermaps on our website to see how). And his style has changed a bit, too – less dribbling and more link-up play. Maybe he's drawing less pressure, in better positions to finish.

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P.S. These are just hints from the data, and we'd want to use video analysis to validate them. But sometimes the data can help us to ask the right questions. And it's great to see a veteran player finding new ways to perform, if that's what's happening.

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More from @smarterscout

Jun 22, 2021

Norwich have signed forward Milot Rashica ("hra-SHEET-sa") from Werder Bremen for €11m. We've been following him since 2015 – and he hasn't been as productive lately as he was in 2018-19. Let's find out why not.

Stats at a Premier League standard:

As you can see above, Rashica has played mainly as a striker for Werder Bremen, with great skill in 1v1s but declining attacking output. His style hasn't changed much, but his passing has gotten less aggressive and his dribbling has declined a little bit:

The share of Rashica's ball progression contributions from receiving doubled since 2018-19, while the share from passing is about the same. The remainder is his individual actions – so he's not taking the ball forward and winning as many duels as he used to:

Read 7 tweets
Jun 21, 2021

THREAD: Ryan Gravenberch gets the start today for the Oranje. The 19-year-old Ajax phenom and smarterscout young prospect had an amazing breakout season. Apart from aerials in open play, there's not a bad number on here. Stats at a #UCL standard: πŸ”₯πŸ™‡β€β™‚οΈπŸš€

Gravenberch operated mostly on the left for Ajax, and we'll expect to see him working there in a two again today. He's got a wide range of passes but is a storming dribbler up the left channel. He takes corners from both sides, too. Multitalented, you might say...

Oh, and Gravenberch can score from outside the box in open play, too. He's 19 years old, people.

Read 4 tweets
Oct 14, 2020
🧡 THREAD: Charlie Kelman steps up!

The British-born #USMNT youth player has left Southend for QPR. Last season was tough for Southend, and Kelman didn't get on the end of many balls in the box. At 1.69m he can't do much in aerials, either. Second striker might work better.

Kelman's involvement in Southend's most dangerous moves was rather low for a central striker, though he did take decent chances on average. He was active in both channels, a bit more on the left, usually linking up the play but also dribbling on the corner of the box.

Here are Kelman's shot maps. He scored a couple of longer shots from open play. From dead balls it looks like he wasn't always around the six-yard box, which isn't surprising given his height. Again, second striker looks best for him.

Read 5 tweets
Sep 29, 2020

Rhian Brewster is reportedly close to a move from Liverpool to Sheffield United. At first glance, the 20-year-old's stats from last season with Swansea don't look too impressive at a Premier League standard. But read on...

1/4 #LFC #TwitterBlades #SUFC Image
Brewster was involved in a surprisingly high share of Swansea's goals while on the pitch despite being part of less than 40% of its shots. One reason was his finishing, which was well above par and partly made up for his low underlying output in attack.

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As Brewster's smartermap shows, he was active all over the attacking half for Swansea and got into good positions to shoot. He liked to shoot head-on from the GK's right and at more oblique angles from the GK's left. Overall he was more active in the right channel.

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Read 5 tweets
Sep 29, 2020

We now offer ratings for head coaches in all of our 48+ leagues around the world. We measure effects on attacking and defending, style, and more.

For example, our ratings suggest Leeds United would not be in the Premier League without Marcelo Bielsa.

Here are Bielsa's average differences (per league match) in expected goals for and against versus our predicted results, given his players' performances in previous seasons:

2018-19 xGF +0.44
2019-20 xGF +0.23

2018-19 xGA -0.23
2019-20 xGA -0.27

In each case above, our statistical tests suggest with nearly 100% confidence that Bielsa offered a positive effect.

Interestingly, this was not the case at Lille, where Bielsa's numbers were not as impressive. So the fit and the ability to put across ideas are important!

Read 4 tweets
Sep 28, 2020

RΓΊben Dias has moved from Benfica to Manchester City for €68m, @DuncanCastles reports. Here are his stats at a Premier League standard – good attacking output and ball retention, great defending quality, awesome tackler, good in the air on dead balls:

But what's really exciting about Dias is his attacking. He was involved in 45% of Benfica's goals last season, which is huge for a RCB. He generated even more ball progression expected goals from receiving as from passing, too, taking high-quality shots (and finishing them):

Here's our smartermap for Dias last season. He got deep into the attacking half for Benfica, leaving room on the flank for the RB, and with Manchester City he should have opportunities to do the same. He even took some of those good shots in open play!

Read 4 tweets

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