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  • January 31, 2020

    Jarrod Bowen's Unique Skill

    By James Yorke
  • Jarrod Bowen has been hot for a while now. The Hull City man has scored 52 goals in the last three Championship seasons, of which only four have been penalties. His rate has accelerated too, with the 0.55 non-penalty goals per 90 he’s achieved in 2019-20 ahead of a rate closer to 0.4 for the previous two seasons.

    With goals a desirable currency in football for some years now, it’s mildly surprising that the 23 year old Herefordshire-born attacker hasn’t been lured away from Hull before. That’s changed this deadline day with a reported switch to West Ham on the cards after interest from Newcastle and Crystal Palace, all teams for which his propensity for goals will surely assist. Bowen is a left footed attacker who generally plays from the right side but is fairly versatile as to positions he can inhabit across the attacking band. That main profile in itself already marks him as relatively scarce, as I discussed some years back.

    Here’s his shot map for the last two seasons:

    What can we learn from this?

    -His frequent right sided starting position is reflected by a skew to that side for shot locations.

    -His shot selection shows a relatively high volume of attempts from long range and difficult wide positions.

    -He has shown an ability to score from range with five goals including one free-kick.

    -He’s scored well from through-balls (represented by triangles), seven from seventeen attempts.

    -Lots of goals from high value close, central locations, including deep into the six yard box.

    -Few headers, only twelve in total and one goal, from very close range.

    Okay so this is all pretty good and without even looking at any other aspects of his play, is an obvious hook for suitors.

    But it’s not the whole story in relation to his shooting. Bowen is actually a unicorn.

    One of the benefits of data is the ability to test ideas. How many lefties score lots of goals with their right foot? Riyad Mahrez? Romelu Lukaku? Sure, both score a few but usually from more central locations. How many lefties score often with their right foot from wide on the right? This is what makes Bowen, in this aspect of his game, unique. Look at the split here:

    Finishing from wide is hard. It stands to reason: the goalkeeper fills more of the goal and the target gets small quickly. Nonetheless, players often overrate their ability to score from sharp angles, and with their stronger foot too. In contrast, Bowen both shoots and scores with his off foot from wide positions. If you watch how he takes his shots, he often shoots quickly and hard, catching keepers off guard. That he can do this with both feet and in tough zones with his off foot? That’s not a common skill. It also gives him an advantage against the defender, as there isn’t a sensible direction to shepherd him if he’s in possession in the box.

    We’ve only explored one aspect of Bowen’s game here, albeit a crucial one, but it already makes him an interesting player to evaluate further. With a broad dataset of multiple leagues and industry-leading detail such as that available from StatsBomb, it is possible to understand how a player’s talents fit within the world of football, and when you find players that impress with the scarcity of their ability, it pays to sit up and take notice.

    Bowen was a player we reported on in the first tranche of player reports from the StatsBomb Pro Scouting service that has launched recently and within that we explored the rest of his game in detail too. We offer professional in depth evaluations of players from both a data and traditional scouting perspective and CEO Ted Knutson spoke more about it here. Further information about the service is available from Sales@StatsBomb.com

    One question remains though. Do Bowen’s suitors realise that he is a prolific goalscorer or a both a prolific and unique goalscorer?

    Article by James Yorke