The 2018/19 Premier League season may still be in its infancy, with just seven rounds of fixtures completed, but already several interesting stories are developing.
On a wider scale, Manchester City, last term’s runaway champions, appear to have genuine challengers for their crown in the shape of Liverpool and Chelsea. José Mourinho is having typical third-season struggles at Manchester United and promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers have looked fearless in their ascent up the table.
There are some intriguing narratives formulating on a smaller, individual scale, too. We’ve trawled through the numbers to pick out the most surprising statistical happenings.
Ings can expect the goals to keep flowing
After a tumultuous, injury-ravaged time with Liverpool, Danny Ings joined Southampton in the summer, hoping to rediscover the fettle of his formative Burnley years and prove his fitness on the South Coast.
And, thus far, he is succeeding. The 26-year-old has netted three times in the Premier League for the Saints, but it is his underlying numbers which speak louder about his rejuvenation.
The degree to which Ings has rediscovered his scoring prowess is evidenced by the the fact only Manchester City superstar Sergio Agüero can match the Englishman’s remarkable average of 0.92 expected goals per 90 minutes (xG90).
This shows Ings’ scoring form is no fluke, and that, rather than riding a hot streak of finishing, he is getting into the positions and seeking a quality of chances that could see him sustain his fine start to life at St. Mary’s
How’s that for end product?
Many questioned the Black Country side’s decision to splash a club-record £18million on Middlesbrough winger Adam Traoré, though. The former Barcelona academy graduate is undoubtedly talented, but, some suggest, he lacks the discipline and output to succeed at the highest level.
Traoré’s otherworldly dribbling ability remains his biggest asset, with his average of 10.17 successful take-ons per 90 vastly outstripping even Eden Hazard’s efforts (3.88 take-ons per 90). But now his once-maligned end product is up to scratch, too.
Used predominantly as an impact substitute, Traoré has by far the highest expected assists per 90 (xA90) average in the division, his 0.88 towering above second-placed Agüero’s 0.52.
His return of five goals from seven games certainly isn’t shabby, but the England captain – perhaps fatigued from his World Cup Golden Boot-winning efforts in Russia – is threatening goal much less frequently.
Kane is taking just 2.86 shots per 90, way down from his average of 5.37 from last term, when he scored 30 league goals.
Callum the creator
Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson has turned from scorer to creator this season. The former England Under-21 international ranks fourth for total expected goals assisted (xA), with a return of 2.42.
Although Wilson might have hoped for more than two goals of his own from his six Premier League appearances, he is clearly contributing to Bournemouth’s rise to the heady heights of seventh in the English top flight.
Fraser on fire
Wilson isn’t the only Bournemouth player thriving creatively in 2018/19. Scottish winger Ryan Fraser leads the league when it comes to big chances created with seven.
The 24-year-old has been in scintillating form for Eddie Howe’s Cherries, impressing with his direct style and reliable end product.
In addition to his powers of creativity, Fraser has also chipped in with three goals.