There has always been this fixation on goals in soccer. Obviously goals are important, but we place too much emphasis on the raw goal numbers rather than trying to get a better idea of how important the goals are. When a goal occurs can be more important than just scoring. Is scoring the 5th goal of the game truly as important as the first or second goal? If not then why treat them all the same. Here we're going to talk about a new way to gauge just how valuable a striker is for the goals he's scored.
One of the big things in soccer analytics is looking at the relationship between the number of goals scored in a single match correlates to the number of points earned. They want to know how many points per game a team can be expected to earn based on the number of goals scored. Through this analysis they found the first and second goals are worth the most number of points and then the benefits of goals 3-5 really level off.
The generally accepted vales for goal totals is: 0 goals is worth .28 points, 1 goal is worth 1.13 points, 2 goals is worth 2.12 points, 3 goals is 2.67 points, 4 goals is worth 2.9 points, and 5 or more goals is worth a full 3 points. With these values we can begin to quantify what a striker's goals are really worth.
Below is a table of every scorer in the EPL this year. Because we are two weeks in we've included the entire table, but in the coming weeks we'll limit it to the top 10-15 scorers. We've broken down each player's goals based on if they were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th goal of the game for their team. Then we multiple each of the goals by the points they earn by giving their team a first or second goal. For this the first goal is worth .85 points, the difference between the expected points at 0 goals(.28 pts) and 1 goal (1.13 pts). The second goal is worth .99 points, third goal is worth .55 points, fourth goal is worth .23 points and the 5th goal is worth .1 points. Any goals scored above 5 are not counted because they do not add anything to the points total. An own goal is worth the negative value of the goal scored. I'm not sure if this will remain the same going forward, but it is an ok solution for now.
|Player||Team||1st Goal||2nd Goal||3rd Goal||4th Goal||5th Goal||Adjusted Goals||Total Goals|
|Da Silva Cost||Chelsea||2||0||0||0||0||1.7||2|
As you can see from the table, Steven Naismith is actually the most valuable striker in the Premier League right now. Both of his goals were the second goal of the game for Everton, the crucial point where teams go from a likely draw in a match to a probable win. Sadly Naimsith's efforts have been in vain as our defense has decided to turn into Newcastle's.
As with all of our early numbers, there is going to be a lot of fluctuation over the next month. Right now no player has scored more than two goals, when we get to 10-15 goals per player we will really begin to see which strikers are more valuable than the raw goal numbers would suggest.