quique

Two guest pieces on rising talent in the league:

Nathan Redmond

by Clarke @footyinthecloud

Redmond (Norwich/England U21) has popped up on my radar this season with some decent underlying numbers. Canaries manager, Alex Neil, uses Redmond on the right side of midfield, in an ‘attacking from the flanks’ role. His performances have been impactful with 4 goals and 2 assists this term, in just over 1100 minutes of league football.

Let’s take a glance at his 19, 20 and 21 year old seasons (data to 20th Dec):

redmond

He is a solid contributor to the Norwich attack. Based on the 11v11 data I put together and track, he is currently ranked in the top 25 in contribution to shots % and in the top 35 in shot contribution p90. Given that Norwich’s attack is not the strongest in the league, it ranks 14th for shots and shots on target for, I am impressed at his outputs.
Raheem Sterling, the same age as Redmond, was bought for a huge transfer fee over the summer and these are his stats for the last 3 years:

sterling
I think this offers an interesting comparison of two players growing into the league.  It gives some context to Redmond’s numbers compared to that of a high profile player of the same age, who played on bigger and better teams. As both players move into their peak ages, I am interested to see what happens.
I can’t draw out information about his confidence, his ‘football brain’ or who cuts his hair but I am fairly certain we have a legit attacking player. The kid is 21 years old and has put up solid attacking numbers. With similar underlying numbers to Sterling but far less hype, I am guessing he could be purchased for a decent price. I have a hard time believing that Nathan will stay at Carrow Road for too much longer.

 

Watford

by @WillTGM

A team that entered the season with a relegation battle expected instead find themselves flying high in the table on the back of some respectable underlying numbers, while an English striker with a chequered past earns plaudits. Leicester Watford’s performance has gone largely unheralded this season, although they typically achieved a headline-grabbing result shortly after this Liverpool fan agreed to contribute to this article. As the bookmakers favourite for the drop pre-season amid unflattering comparisons with QPR, Watford have picked up a healthy 28 points going into Christmas. The bookmakers forecast them to accrue 35 points over the whole season, which underlines the significance of their achievement thus far.

A newly promoted team having a hot run of form isn’t unheard of but what is most interesting about Watford is that they’ve achieved this while putting up very reasonable underlying numbers; their performance level appears to have been largely sustainable so far. Their performance has been built off an impressive defence having conceded the joint-fourth least goals while conceding the seventh least shots and shots on target. My expected goals numbers have them nestled between Liverpool and Tottenham as the fifth best defence so far in open play (Michael Caley and Paul Riley have them in fifth also). Furthermore, the number of goals they’ve conceded is broadly in line with expectations, so a visit from the regression fairy isn’t anticipated.

xG_TeamPlotGraph_Watford(data to 20th Dec)

While their offensive numbers are less impressive, the combination of excellent defensive numbers and a below average attack sees them project as an average Premier League team. Their current position of seventh is probably the high water mark of their expectations but the points platform they’ve established and encouraging underlying numbers could mean a top-half finish (their performance levels look far more sustainable than other current top-half interlopers Crystal Palace and West Ham). Quique Sànchez Flores deserves great praise for putting this team together; of the nine promoted teams over the previous three seasons, only Southampton in 2012/13 registered an expected goal difference per game greater than Watford’s current numbers and their defensive number is better by a significant margin. Watford may not have the exhilarating attack of Leicester City, nor the PR-friendly style of play of Bournemouth but their achievements thus far have been genuinely impressive.

Prediction: comfortable safety and a potential top-half finish.

 

(using Opta data)