The Premier League players of an attacking persuasion are frequently measured against a simple yardstick – the number of goals they score.
The rise in prominence of advanced metrics such as xG has added more nuance – but a striker underperforming their xG is far from immune to criticism, even though it can occasionally be used as a mitigating factor.
But how about those who have done everything right, but still come away short-changed?
Using the Twenty3 Toolbox, we looked at the three players in the English top flight with the greatest post-shot xG (PSxG) underperformance – essentially, the division’s unluckiest finishers.
Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s Nicolas Jackson tops the Premier League charts for PSxG underperformance, scoring six times from a PSxG of 8.24.
The Blues’ summer signing endured a difficult start to the season in which his promising movement failed to translate into goals, with just two strikes in his first nine league outings.
Four goals in his last two appearances in the competition have increased his total tally to a much healthier six.
That is broadly in line with his strong xG total of 6.71, but the fact that his PSxG is so significantly higher is extremely encouraging and suggests he has been good value for at least two more goals by this stage, which would put him joint-third in the division’s top scorer charts.
At just 22, there should be plenty of time for the Senegal international to fulfil his undoubted potential and reap the rewards his shooting deserves.
Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins sits in esteemed company this campaign.
Only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Manchester City’s Erling Haaland can better him for goal contributions (10 – six goals, four assists), expected goals contribution (10.25) or xG (7.36).
His incision on the break has been a particularly potent weapon this term, with 2.41 of his total xG coming from counter-attacks – more than any other player in the Premier League.
However, his six goals have been scored from a PSxG of 8.16, suggesting the 27-year-old’s tally should be even more impressive than it is.
The Englishman was forced to wait until the sixth game of the season to open his league account, eventually doing so in the 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on September 24.
Watkins’ underperformance likely stems from this period – but with his six Premier League goals coming from his last seven appearances in the competition, he is well on his way towards making up for it.
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)
Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew is generally not heavily mentioned in discussions about the Premier League’s most prolific finishers.
While he may not be hitting the heights of Salah or Haaland, his PSxG of 3.07 reveals that his solitary league strike this season does not do him justice.
Ayew’s contribution to the team extends beyond his finishing as well – he ranks first in the league for attacking duels won (99), seventh for completed dribbles (42) and sixth for pressing duels attempted (93).
Goals tend to attract the most attention – but the 32-year-old deserves plenty of praise for both his shooting and his overall contribution.
All visualisations in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.