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Why Agüero Is Untouchable Among Premier League Strikers

 • by Andrew Gibney
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By firing in a stunning right-footed strike from the edge of the area against Leicester City, Sergio Agüero bagged his fourth of the game and 21st Premier League goal of the campaign.

The Argentine forward has cemented his place in the Premier League history books by making this the fourth season in a row he has reach the 20-goal mark. Not bad for a player Pep Guardiola, reportedly, didn’t fancy and was keen to sell.

Earlier in the season he became Manchester City’s all-time leading scorer and he has found the net 91 times in the past four league campaigns.

It is an amazing achievement from the 29-year-old, but we were curious to see how it measured up to other forwards currently playing in England over the same time frame.

Out of all the strikers measured, Harry Kane is the only one to match Agüero’s return over the past four seasons with an incredible 98 goals. He’s averaging 24.5 per term. The City forward is slightly behind on 22.75.

Yet, where the former Atlético Madrid betters the English centre-forward is in his goals per 90 return, trumping the 24-year-old with 0.90 per 90. It comes down to Kane making ten more appearances over the same period.

Zlatan Ibrahimović, despite failing to score for Manchester United this season, comes third with an average goal haul of 18.5, this is helped by his 38-goal season at Paris Saint-Germain. His goals per 90 return of 0.7 can’t keep pace with the aforementioned duo – even Olivier Giroud, with 0.73, has a better ratio than the Swedish talisman.

Chelsea’s January signing has long baffled statistical data. Rarely used by Arsène Wenger he still found a way to score for Arsenal, giving him a healthy goals per 90 return. However, what helps is his efficiency at turning shots into goals and with a conversion rate of 23.2 per cent, he measures higher than any forward in the Premier League since 2014.

Kane and Agüero are extremely close in this regard. The Spurs forward converts 18.8 per cent of his shots into goal, with Guardiola’s No.10 ahead by the smallest or margins at 18.9 per cent.

Although he has 22 goals for Liverpool this term and established himself as one of the biggest summer transfer bargains of all time, Mo Salah has never been regarded as the greatest finisher. However, the stats suggest this assumption could be wide of the mark.

This season he has powered 22.4 per cent of his shots past helpless goalkeepers, but his average over the past four campaigns remains high at 20.5 per cent – second only to Giroud.

Simply speaking, he’s taking more shots. From the 2014/15 campaign to now his average has gone 2.87, 2.35, 2.88 and now 4.45 per 90. With Jürgen Klopp putting the Egyptian in areas where he is more likely to be on the end of goal-scoring opportunities, it will be interesting to see how these numbers hold up over the next two to three years.

Expected Goals is the latest factor to take into consideration when dissecting how players are performing and the likelihood of strikers scoring goals.

Maligned in some quarters, those who embrace expected goals (xG) realise its value in identifying patterns in a footballing context. More commonly seen applied to single games to weigh up the balance of chances for the teams involved, xG’s most appropriate uses are over a longer period when a greater pool of data is available.

Using historical data, xG models measure each shot taken in a game to judge its statistical likelihood of being scored, based on the position from which it is taken.

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This means we are able to see broadly when a player is finishing their chances at an especially efficient rate, or when the opposite is true and they are being more wasteful than expected.

Agüero leads the field in this category with an average xG per 90 of 0.84 over the past four seasons. He’s just above that return this season at 0.88 and it is a testament to his finishing ability which has kept him on top.

Kane is a little further behind on 0.69, but is smashing his numbers this year with 0.89, which shows just how exceptional he was between 2014 and 2016, scoring 46 league goals with an average xG of 0.6 per 90.

Anyone can have an exceptional season, just ask Jamie Vardy who, during the 2015/16 campaign had an xG of 0.63 – better than Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Diego Costa – as Leicester City romped to the league title. Now it has dropped back to 0.4, below Lukaku and Álvaro Morata.

However, Agüero’s xG hasn’t fallen below 0.75. He averages more than five shots per game and 0.9 goals per 90. When he plays, he scores.

Able to score every type of goal, which he made sure to demonstrate against Leicester last week, he is undoubtedly the deadliest striker currently playing in the Premier League and may one day go down as the best.

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