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Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien - data analysis

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis

In this data analysis piece, we will be identifying centre-forwards (strikers) to be scouted that are currently playing in the Eliteserien. Strikers in the modern game have evolved a lot. No longer do we see them as target men, being very tall in the air and bulldozing defenders. The roles of the false ‘9’ and wide forwards have started to change how teams in Premier LeagueLa Liga, etc, deploy their strikers and use them. We also see very short players playing in these positions that have had great success like Sergio Aguero and Lorenzo Insigne.

In our analysis, we will be looking into the major attributes that are key for a striker to have. We will be looking at players who have registered at least 800 minutes of football in the league so far this season. We will shortlist the top options according to the statistics and data analysis. Let’s get into the analysis.

Goalscoring

The first thing we’re looking at is goal contributions (goals and assists combined). In the graph below, we have the expected goal contributions per 90 on the x-axis and goal contributions per 90 on the y-axis. The colour of the dots represents the xG per game. It is an important metric when it comes to rating or comparing forwards with each other as they are pretty much judged based on their ability to contribute goals to their team.

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Ola Brynhildsen – The 23-year-old forward from Molde has averaged a league-high 0.85 xG per game and 0.81 actual goals from 3.65 shots per game which shows that he has a sustainable level of performance although he has underperformed by a bit. In total, he scored 8 goals for his team.

Ole Christian Sæter – The 26-year-old forward from Rosenborg has averaged 0.65 xG per game and a league-high  0.98 actual goals from 3.65 shots per game which shows that outperformed his xG by a quite bit with a very good ability to finish. In total, he scored 13 goals for his team.

David Fofana – The 19-year-old forward from Molde has averaged 0.81 xG per game and 0.61 actual goals from 4.12 shots per game which shows he has underperformed his xG by a lot but with his xG value and his age, he can certainly improve a lot as he progresses. In total, he scored 9 goals for his team.

Veton Berisha – The 28-year-old forward from Viking on loan from Hammarby has averaged 0.57 xG per game and 0.62 actual goals from 3.27 shots per game which shows that he has a sustainable level of performance in front of the goal. In total, he scored 8 goals for his team.

Magnus Grødem – The 24-year-old forward from Molde has averaged 0.68 xG per game and 0.51 actual goals from 3.32 shots per game which shows he has underperformed his xG by a lot but with his xG value and his age, he can certainly improve a lot as he progresses. In total, he scored 7 goals for his team.

Activity in the box

In this section of the analysis, we’ll assess how active the players in the box are. We have shots per 90 on the x-axis and touches in the box per 90 on the y-axis. The colour shows the xG per shot showing the quality of the shots that the player prefers to take. Strikers specialising in finishing and poaching goals like the former Paris Saint-Germain star Mauro Icardi are expected to have a higher percentage of shots.

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

David Fofana – The 19-year-old Molde forward has recorded a league-high 4.12 shots per game and 6.76 touches in the box per game. He also has an excellent xG per shot value of 0.196 which is well above the average value for a CF.

Veton Berisha – The 28-year-old forward from Viking has averaged 3.27 shots per game and a league-high 6.77 touches in the box per game. He also has a very good xG per shot value of 0.17 which is well above the average value for a CF.

Ola Brynhildsen – The Molde Forward has recorded 3.65 shots per game and 5.48 touches in the box per game. He also has an outstanding xG per shot value of 0.23 which is well above the average value for a CF and is amongst the highest in the league. This means that he gets into very good scoring positions to score goals and especially ones that maximise his chances of scoring.

Magnus Retsius Grødem – The 24-year-old forward from Molde has recorded 3.32 shots per game and 5.27 touches in the box per game. He also has an xG per shot value of 0.2 which is well above the average value for a CF and a very good one as well.

Akor Jerome Adams – The 22-year-old forward from Lillestrom has recorded 3.21 shots per game and 4.7 touches in the box per game. He also has an xG per shot value of 0.12 which is slightly below the average value for a centre-forward but still a decent one.

Target man

An interesting character in a forward is his ability to be an effective target man and receive direct passes. To assess this, we have aerial duels per 90 on the y-axis and the success rate in those duels on the x-axis. To complement this information, the colour shows the number of long passes received by each player.

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Hólmbert Friðjónsson – The 29-year-old centre-forward from Lillestrom has recorded 10.14 aerial duels per game, the most in the league among forwards with good accuracy of 56.8%. He has also received 1.69 long passes per game on average.

Steffen Lie Skålevik – The 29-year-old centre-forward from Sarpsborg has averaged 9.21 aerial duels per game with an accuracy of a 42.3%. He has also received 2.17 long passes per game on average.

Pål Alexander Kirkevold – The 31-year-old centre-forward from HamKam has averaged 7.59 aerial duels per game with an accuracy of a 39%. He has also received 1.88 long passes per game on average.

Ole Christian Sæter – The 26-year-old Rosenborg forward has averaged 7.5 aerial duels per game with an accuracy of a 40.4%. He has also received 1.82 long passes per game on average.

Alexander Toft Søderlund – The 35-year-old centre-forward from Haugesund has averaged 7.2 aerial duels per game with an accuracy of a 41.1%. He has also received 1.41 long passes per game on average.

Assisting

Moving more into second-line players, the ability to produce goals is a key one. In this section of the data analysis, we look at expected assists (xA) per 90 on the y-axis and key passes per 90 on the x-axis. The colour of the dots shows the number of secondary assists per 90 which helps us understand how the players help in facilitating creation.

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Magnus Wolff Eikrem – The 32-year-old centre-forward from Molde has recorded 1.59 key passes per game along with a league-high xA of 0.55 per game. He also averaged 3 shot-assists per 90 which is, again, amongst the highest in the league.

Zlatko Tripić – The 29-year-old centre-forward from Viking has recorded a league-high 1.73 key passes per game along with an xA of 0.52 per game. He also averaged 3.73 shot-assists per 90 which is, again, the highest among the forwards in the league.

Carlo Holse – The 23-year-old centre-forward from Rosenborg has averaged 1.08 key passes per game along with an xA of 0.36 per game. He also averaged 2.59 shot-assists per 90 which is a very good figure as well.

Veton Berisha – The 28-year-old forward from Viking has averaged 0.93 key passes per game along with an xA of 0.24 per game. He also averaged 1.56 shot-assists per 90.

Ylldren Ibrahimaj – The 26-year-old centre-forward from Lillestrom has recorded 0.63 key passes per game along with an xA of 0.34 per game. He also averaged 2.24 shot-assists per 90.

Dribbling

Finally, we have a look at the players’ abilities to get past rivals and create things by themselves. On the x-axis, we have completed dribbles per 90 and on the y-axis, progressive runs per 90 (a continuous ball control by one player attempting to draw the team significantly closer to the opponent’s goal). The colour shows offensive duels won per 90.

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Doğuhan Aral Şimşir – The 20-year-old forward from Lillestrom has averaged 4.06 successful dribbles per game and a league-high 3.63 progressive runs per game. He also averages 19.81 offensive duels won per game.

Zlatko Tripić – The 29-year-old centre-forward from Viking has recorded 3.9 successful dribbles per game and 3.03 progressive runs per game. He also averages 9.36 offensive duels won per game.

David Fofana – The 19-year-old centre-forward has averaged 3.6 successful dribbles per game and 3.18 progressive runs per game. He also averages 19.19 offensive duels won per game.

Imoh Fred Friday – The 27-year-old centre-forward from Stromsgodset has recorded a league-high 4.1 successful dribbles per game and 2.09 progressive runs per game. He also averages 23.4 offensive duels won per game.

August Mikkelsen – The 21-year-old centre-forward from Tromso has recorded a league-high 3.8 successful dribbles per game and 2.96 progressive runs per game. He also averages 15.59 offensive duels won per game.

Shortlisting the best options

We have seen some very fine youngsters being discussed statistically in the previous sections. Based on that, we will shortlist the top three options among them:

David Fofana

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

The Molde teenager has been one of their biggest finds and emerging talents this season and has taken the league by storm with his performances. He has had a very good goalscoring season despite underperforming his xG but he has also been raking a lot of xG which shows that he has great movement in the box and gets into decent scoring positions in the box.

We can see that in his shot map as well where he takes a lot of shots around the centre and the 6-yard box. He is also excellent in terms of dribbling and beating his man with pace as well as at creating chances for his teammates.

Ola Brynhildsen

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Ola Brynhildsen is another young Molde forward who has been very impressive for them this season. He has shown good goal-scoring ability and movement and we can see that with his stats and also in the image above where he takes a lot of shots from the 6-yard box. He is also very good at creating chances for his teammates as well. If he can improve his ability to beat his man and carry the ball, he will be one of the hottest talents from those regions.

Carlo Holse

Finding the best centre-forwards from the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

The Rosenborg forward is more a of winger type rather than a CF but he has played as a CF this season. He is far more creative than Brynhildsen and Fofana and much less of a direct goal-scoring threat. He can certainly develop himself as a goalscorer where he is pretty good at all the other things like even dribbling. We can see his shot map above where he has taken very few shots and most of them are from zones where the chances of scoring are less as well.

Conclusion

The Eliteserien possess some very good forwards having great ability to play for top clubs in Europe. We also shortlisted some hot prospects who might be followed by many clubs across the top five European leagues. It will be very interesting to see the progress of these young players and how well they shape their future.