“Exceptional”: why Man City would be Shaw to benefit from signing Reggae Girlz striker – scout report
With the 2020/2021 WSL season over, all clubs will be looking to rebuild, finding the players to take them to the next level. For Manchester City Women, they need to find a way of toppling Chelsea Women from their perch, whilst also keeping Arsenal Women and Manchester United Women at bay. Reports have suggested that they are close to their first summer signing, with Bordeaux and Jamaica striker Khadija Shaw seemingly on her way to the Academy Stadium.
The WSL runners-up have beaten reported interest from Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton Women, US and French clubs for her signature, and this tactical analysis will look at how the Reggae Girl could fit into their tactics. The scout report will also examine her statistics, compared to Ellen White’s, seeing how she would differ as a striker option from the England international, and what that would mean for the team’s playing style next season.
Before looking at her game in more detail, we will begin this analysis by studying Shaw’s heatmap.
It is not surprising that the area she frequents the most is the goal area, but it is interesting that there are other areas with colour. This is because she doesn’t always play solely as a centre-forward, and this helps her team to create plenty of options around the pitch. As we examine her versatility and awareness, we need to keep this in mind.
As mentioned, Khadija Shaw is versatile, able to play on either wing or through the middle.
Here, we see how she is leading the line for Bordeaux, and is the furthest player forward. She knows that her teammate in possession will need a passing option, so makes the pitch as big as possible and runs beyond the Montpellier Feminines line, giving her team a way of attacking their goal.
Her pace and ability to get into the right areas is a key factor in her team’s attack, and playing on the shoulder of the last defender is something Manchester City will definitely benefit from. This is because Ellen White does the same thing, getting between opponents and accessing spaces behind, so Shaw would have no problem fitting into Manchester City’s tactics in this respect.
By moving away from the ball, Shaw also forces the opposing defenders to make a decision; to mark her or close the ball down. Therefore, we can see how she constantly affects opposing defences during games, never allowing them to switch off at any moment.
When she has teammates in the central areas of the pitch, she takes up a wider position. In this image, against Lyon Feminin, Ouleymata Sarr (wearing number 11) has been surrounded by Lyon defenders in the central channel, but Shaw’s position on the left side allows Bordeaux to keep possession and get the ball into the box, but by another way than first intended. Looking at the wider picture, Bordeaux’s attacking setup is similar to Manchester City’s, with the forward three stretched out along the pitch. Therefore, again, Shaw would be capable of slotting into their forward line in any of the three positions, giving them another option in the final third.
It is worth noting, however, that the Jamaica international only has a crossing accuracy of 23.7%, compared to Chloe Kelly’s 41.4% and Lauren Hemp’s 42.7%. Therefore, it is more likely that she will play centrally for Manchester City, as they have other players who are more reliable at getting balls into the box.
Shaw can also operate behind the forward line when necessary. In this image, her teammates are close to the Fleury 91 goal, so she has slotted into the hole behind them, playing almost as an attacking midfielder in this situation. From there, she can monitor the play and go where she will be most useful, looking to get a shot away where there is more space. This is therefore another way that she can feature in her team’s attack, and this versatility will be of huge benefit to Manchester City if she does make the move to join them this summer.
The other positive in Khadija Shaw’s game is awareness, always knowing what is happening around her and where she can help her team out. This is another key quality that will benefit Manchester City, as it means she will get into spaces and give her team passing options, helping to link up the play.
This image shows Shaw in a central role again, but this time, she sees that her teammate needs a passing option closer to the wing, with Dijon setting up in a defensive shape centrally. She therefore sees the gap and moves through it, giving the required option in the open space behind them.
There are a few things to take from this. Firstly, she has adjusted from being the central attacker to the winger, showing her ability to adapt to different in-game situations. Secondly, she constantly spots gaps in opposing defences, highlighting the threat she poses in the final third. Finally, her movement defeats Dijon’s low block, as the ball can now travel down the wing, rather than being crossed into the middle from its current position, decreasing the chance of it being intercepted and cleared, so her movement helps break down organised opposing defences.
This image shows a similar situation, with Shaw constantly hunting for spaces to move into. Here, at a corner, she has started centrally, but peels off and runs around the defenders into the gap at the right moment. By doing so, she gets herself in the right area to score a headed goal, which again shows her awareness of what is happening and where she can affect the game.
Her natural instinct in travelling into these spaces is something else she will bring to Manchester City. They currently only have White as an out-and-out striker, with others like Georgia Stanway playing there on occasion this season, so the Reggae Girlz star could provide them with the second striker they need to make up the two-point difference between them and champions Chelsea.
The final example of her awareness comes from her ability to move around the pitch, working around her teammates’ positions. In this image, we see how one Bordeaux player is running at the PSG Feminine defenders, whilst Shaw has moved out towards the left wing to give her the space to do so. She positions herself on the outside of the PSG defenders, again forcing them into making a decision; they can either move out towards her or stay where they are. Either way, they will leave space open for Bordeaux to attack through. Therefore, Shaw’s awareness and positioning has had an impact on her team’s attacking play, helping to create the space for them to attack into.
A modern striker does not only score goals, but needs to link up with their teammates, and this is something Khadija Shaw also does well.
Here, she has moved around the edge of the attack, looking for the best way to move the ball into a dangerous area, highlighting her patience in possession. The yellow arrow indicates her pass, but she then runs into the space, as the blue arrow shows, to immediately offer the return passing option, where she can get a shot away at the Le Havre goal in space.
Therefore, whilst there was no clear chance here initially, Shaw has created one by combining with a teammate. There are plenty of organised defences in the WSL, and Manchester City will benefit from having Shaw creating opportunities against them with instinctive moments of quality like this.
When the roles are reversed, Shaw is equally as comfortable. Here, she is in the middle, with her teammate looking to make their way into the box. The ball is played into the Jamaica striker, who then weights her pass back out perfectly, setting up the shot.
Despite this, passing is not the best part of Shaw’s game, and she does give the ball away too easily in good areas. This has cost Bordeaux in some games, so is something she needs to continue working on as her career progresses.
Manchester City like to get their midfielders playing between their strikers, operating in the half-spaces, with the likes of USA international Sam Mewis scoring plenty of goals this season by combining with the forwards. Therefore, Shaw will fit into their combination play well, and, importantly, they won’t have to alter their tactics when she is on the pitch.
Ellen White is still a top striker, but has just turned 32, so is nearing the end of her career. Manchester City therefore need a younger backup option to cover and compete with her, and, as this analysis has so far shown, Khadija Shaw could well be that player.
It is important to remember that Bordeaux and Manchester City have different playing styles, before making too many detailed comparisons between Shaw and White. However, Shaw does have higher statistical values across the board, so will bring quality that Manchester City perhaps missed this season, potentially helping them to pick up the points they dropped.
Both players have similar expected goals (xG) values, but Shaw has a much higher average goals per game value, so appears to be more productive. It is no surprise that Shaw also has a higher value for assists, given that she plays in wider positions at times, whereas White stays more central. Shaw also has a higher value of aerial duels won, reflecting how she is stronger in the air than White. This does mean that Manchester City could potentially mix up their tactics next season, causing different problems for different opponents, which could again be what wins them games they previously drew or lost.
In conclusion, there is no doubting that Jamaica striker Khadija Shaw has been exceptional at Bordeaux this season, and would be an excellent addition to the Manchester City squad. One of the things that cost Manchester City the title last season was a lack of alternatives to Ellen White, meaning that, if she had a poor day in front of goal, they tended to not convert their opportunities. They scored 65 goals last season in the WSL, whilst Chelsea scored 69, so a few more next season will not be a bad thing for the WSL runners-up. Signing Shaw may well fix that, as well as helping to offset the loss of star forward Chloe Kelly, who scored 10 league goals this season, and will miss at least half of next season with the ACL injury she suffered recently.