Statistical Analysis

Harry Kane beating Mo Salah to the xG Golden Boot

Tue, 17 April 2018, 10:38

While Harry Kane claiming Tottenham’s second goal against Stoke was a moment that has created a million memes, it showed just how much winning the Premier League Golden Boot means to the Spurs striker.

Kane has lifted the individual trophy in each of the last two seasons, and with a few weeks of the season remaining, he’s still hopeful of making it a hat-trick.

However, despite finding the net 25 times so far this term, Kane still sits second in the rankings – mostly thanks to the red-hot form of Liverpool’s Mo Salah.

Kane’s eagerness to hoover up every goal possible (even swearing on his daughter’s life that he got a touch on the goal at Stoke to ensure the Premier League awarded it in his favour) has added a real spice to the race for the Golden Boot – and with the title already decided, it could be all that remains to play for at the top of the table.

Salah’s 30 goals put him five clear of Kane, but with a game in hand, can the England man catch him?

Well, Kane does top one table, at least – the Expected Goals (xG) table.

xG, which has been brought into the wider football consciousness this season, measures the quality of chances a player has, and whether they would be expected to score from them.

Taking a shot from 30 yards would score quite low down for xG, whereas one from five yards out would be far higher.

Well, unless it’s Raheem Sterling we were talking about.

Kane leads the xG table from Salah, with a score of 22.61 – narrowly ahead of the Egyptian.

Compared to the 25 goals that he has scored, Kane will rightly be happy with his output this term, coming in 2.39 goals better than expected, judged on the quality of his chances.

However, that figure has nothing on Salah’s xG swing – the Liverpool forward has scored over eight goals more than his xG would suggest.

Seemingly able to score at will from anywhere on the pitch, Salah’s 30 Premier League goals this season are the most since Luis Suarez netted 31 times for Liverpool in 2013/14 – and he hasn’t stopped yet.

Just as with the actual Golden Boot table, it’s those two clear on their own – though Sergio Aguero isn’t too far away, with an xG of 16.26.

If the Argentine hadn’t missed parts of the season through injury (and Pep Guardiola’s rotation), he could well have been in the mix to win the gong too. His +4.74 xG overachievement shows just how lethal the Man City man is in front of goal.

Of the players on the list, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette can feel the most disappointed with his returns this season.

The French striker has an xG of 12.34 – but has only netted 11 times. His -1.34 swing is the lowest of the league’s top scorers.

As Tottenham prepare to face Brighton on Tuesday, expect attention to turn on whether Kane can catch Salah for the Golden Boot.

The high xG count shows that Kane is certainly getting himself in the right positions to score – while he also has far more shots than any other player.

He has taken 165 attempts this season, getting 56 percent of those on target.

Putting that in perspective, only he and Salah have taken more than 100 shots – with fifth highest scorer in the league, Jamie Vardy, taking only 60 shots.

With the sheer amount of shots Kane takes, and with the likes of master creator Christian Eriksen putting them on a plate for him, it would be foolish to write him off for the Golden Boot.

Especially knowing how much winning it means to him, and if the Spurs striker continues to claim any shot that might breeze past him…

Statistical Analysis discovers hidden trends and values in major gambling events by deciphering both contemporary stats and historical data. We derive our probabilities from history, not just betting odds, so you don't have to.

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