Which Rangers players are snakebit & whose scoring may be unsustainable?

Kenny Miller, courtesy of Keith Campbell

written by – Rangers Report

It is easy for a team that is averaging three goals per game to become complacent.  When you have outscored your opponents by 31 goals it is even easier to take for granted that the goals will keep coming.

You know what?  They probably will.

But, the task taken on by Mark Warburton & David Weir goes far beyond winning the Scottish Championship.  That’s why they openly emphasize the need to analyze the performances of their players & of the team as a whole.  They are constantly looking for entry points for growth & that’s what has inspired this examination of which players are putting themselves into position to get quality shots on goal & which players are struggling to make the most of those chances.

Recently, we broke down which players were averaging the highest Expected Goals per shot they take.  Basically, which players were getting shots from dangerous areas – which in turn gives them a greater probability of scoring.

The goal of this post is to add another layer to that analysis by evaluating the finishing prowess of each player in relation to where their shots are being generated.

First, let’s look at shooting percentages in conjunction with xG per shot.  It should be noted that the players who have yet to score this year were removed from the list in order to not skew the averages.  But a couple of those players will be referenced later.  Also, penalty shots were not included, so all of the following data comes from the run of play.

Again, I have borrowed from  Carolyn Wilke in terms of how each data set is labeled.  

Rangers  xG per shot v Shooting Percentage

The shooting percentage (goals/shots on target) is along the vertical axis & the Expected Goals per shot runs along the horizontal.

  • Barrie McKay, Jason Holt, & Dean Shiels are getting their shots off in areas that yield relatively high scoring rates & it shows in their shooting percentage.  The three players have combined for eight goals & have been invaluable in their secondary scoring.  These are not going to be your primary goal threats but the fact that they have combined for 21% of Rangers goals speaks volumes.
  • No Rangers player is as Snakebit as Kenny Miller of late.  He is tied with Jason Holt in xG per shot but his finishing has clearly let him down this year. His 0.286 shooting percentage is bound to move toward the average of the players in this study (0.383) if he keeps getting quality chances in High Danger areas.
  • You may be surprised to see Martyn Waghorn in the Snakebit category.  But, when you strip away the penalties his shooting percentage is 0.276 – which is actually worse then Miller’s.  Of course, Waghorn’s value is also in the volume of shots he generates – which is 4.42 per 90 minutes.  For some context, the other top scorers in the league, Jason Cummings & John Baird, have non-penalty shooting percentages of 0.315 & 0.529 respectively.  What does that mean?  This is not a knock on Waghorn, if anything if he can get his shooting percentage up to his career mark of 0.37 then we may actually see Waghorn’s scoring rate increase noticeably – which is a scary notion for upcoming opponents.
  • I’ve said for a while that the scoring rates for the full backs is likely Unsustainable.  Lee Wallace is averaging 0.40 goals per 90, which while respectable for a forward – is unheard of for a full back.  With regards to James Tavernier, you wonder how long his set-piece magic can last.  It’s been a revelation this season but I’d be curious to know if this has been a career trend or one of those special moments in time that we should enjoy while it lasts.  Even Cristiano Ronaldo, as of last month, had only scored two goals in his past 88 free kick chances!
  • How about players like Nathan Oduwa & Gedion Zelalem? They have both been shut-out this season on a combined 18 shots (12 for Oduwa, six for Zelalem).  They both fall in the Don’t Expect Much category.  The shots they have taken, on average, have come from relatively Low Danger areas.  Oduwa’s xG per shot is 0.075 & Zelalem’s is 0.072.  Of the two, it seems like Oduwa has the best opportunity to get shots in more dangerous areas.  Oduwa clearly has the skillset to generate shots in spots similar to a Dean Shiels or a Barrie McKay – if that could happen you’d surely expect some goals to follow.  This is where video analysis could become a real teachable moment for the youngster.  What are Shiels & McKay doing to generate quality scoring opportunities that Oduwa could embrace?
Nicky Clark

The next logical step in this examination is to look at the other aspect of finishing that is critical to a player’s success – can they actually get their shots on target?  It’s hard to beat the goalie if the ball is sailing into the sea of punters behind the goal.  The following charts shooting accuracy (shots on target/shots) & xG per shot.

Rangers  xG per shot v Shooting Accuracy

Shooting accuracy is along the vertical axis & xG per shot is along the horizontal.

  • Automatically, you may notice that Dean Shiels & especially Barrie McKay have flipped areas from the last charts.  When their shots are on target- they are finishing…but given the quality shots they generate they should be getting even more shots on target.  Particularly, McKay who has eleven shots but only three have been on target.  Two of those shots have been goals but he can really enhance his game if he can get more of those shots on target & force the goalie into a save.
  • Both Waghorn & Miller are generating shots from dangerous areas but the difference, besides the sheer volume of Waghorn’s numbers, is that Waghorn gets 60% of his shots on target & Miller has only gotten 40% of those shots on target.  Waghorn is wearing down the defence by challenging the goalie more then any player in the league.  He leads Jason Cummings by ten non-penalty shots on  target & has generated 35% of all of Rangers shots on target this season.
  • Nicky Law has only six shots this season, but given where his shots are coming from on average, his accuracy has been pretty impressive.
  • When the majority of your shots are coming from Low Danger areas, accuracy is not exactly expected.  So, Tavernier, Wallace, & Andy Halliday have actually been pretty effective  at testing the goalies from long range shots.
  • Oduwa & Zelalem’s shot accuracy would be definite outliers on this graph.  They both have shooting accuracies of 0.167, which is less then half of Halliday’s rate.

You can follow Rangers Report on Twitter @TheGersReport

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