To win the Premier League clubs need scorers AND creators


By Tony Attwood

What is it that takes a club to the top of the league?  Is it having a top chance creator, or a top goalscorer? Or maybe a couple of each?

Certainly, the media love to push the line about top scorers being the key to success.  Except that although Haaland is clearly a force that takes Manchester City to the top of the League, that alone is not enough.  He has 20 goals this season, as does Chelsea’s Palmer and they are ninth in the league.  Arsenal have only one player in the top ten goal scoring list, but is that the heart of Arsenal’s failure to be top of the league today?  It seems unlikely because Arsenal are the second-highest-scoring team in the league, just one goal behind Manchester City.

To try and get a deeper understanding of what are the most significant factors in club success we had a look at which players have created the most chances in the Prem,ier League this season

  1. Martin Odegaard of Arsenal with 68.
  2. Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United with 59
  3. Mohamed Salah of Liverpool with 58
  4. Dejan Kulusevski of Tottenham Hotspur with 57
  5. Bukayo Saka of Arsenal with 55
  6. Pascal Gross of Brighton and Hove Albion with 54
  7. Phil Foden of Manchester City also with 54
  8. Son Heung Min of Tottenham Hotspur with 52
  9. Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United with 49
  10. Cole Palmer of Chelsea and Bernado Silver of Manchester City each with with 48

So there are two Arsenal players in the top five of the list and two Manchester City players there as well. But only one from Liverpool.

But then again there are two top chance creators from Manchester United, and two from Tottenham Hotspur (the numbers come from the Athletic who have got them from Opla) so having top chance creators alone are not enough.

Having two players in the top ten players who are creating a very high level of chances is clearly very helpful but clearly doesn’t ensure a top four position either for goals or for league position.

It is possible to have just one player creating a very high number of chances to get into the top three places in the league table, but it is a dangerous tactic should that player lose his form or get injured.

So what happens if a club has two top-chance creators?  Arsenal have that and are currently second in the league.  Manchester City have two top chance creators as well, so it does look like this helps.   But then so does Tottenham and they are currently fifth in the league (11 points behind Arsenal) and in terms of goal scoring they are sixth (10 goals behind).

But we can say that having a couple of top chance creators, although not a guarantee of a top league placing is again helpful?


Player Club Chances by player Goals by club
Martin Odegaard Arsenal 68 75 (2nd)
Bruno Fernandes Manchester U 59 47 (11th)
Mohamed Salah Liverpool 58 72 (3rd)
Dejan Kulusevski Tottenham Ho 57 65 (6th)
Bukayo Saka Arsenal 55 75 (2nd)
Pascal Gross Brighton 54 52 (9th)
Phil Foden Manchester C 54 76 (1st)
Son Heung Min Tottenham Ho 52 65 (6th)
Bruno Guimaraes Newcastle U 49 69 (4th)
Cole Palmer Chelsea 48 61 (7th)
Bernado Silver Manchester C 48 76 (1st)


Seemingly that is helpful, but still not definitive.  So what about a more crude measure, such as having a top goal scorer – something pundits are often saying Arsenal need. 

Chelsea with Cole Palmer (with 20 goals, equal top of the goal scoring rankings in the Premier League) find that this is no guarantee of a top four place (Chelsea are ninth).   Indeed Bournemouth have the fourth highest goal scorer in the league in Dominic Salnke with 14 goals, but they are currently 13th in the league.

In terms of the top clubs Manchester City have Haaland with 20 goals, Foden with 14.  Arsenal have Saka with 14 and Havertz with nine.  Liverpool have Salah with 17 and Nunez with 12.

So what can we learn from this?

Quite simply that in each of these prime attributes such as goal scoring and chance creation, to get up to or near the top clubs now need multiple players with these attributes. In terms of goals Manchester City have Haaland with 20 and Foden with 14 and Alvarez on eight, while Chelsea have Palmer with 20 and Jackson with 10 and then Sterling with six.

And Arsenal… we have Saka on 14, Havertz on nine, Trossard on eight, Odegaard on seven.   Indeed Arsenal have six players who have scored six or more goals this season.  Manchester City and Liverpool each have five.  Chelsea have three.

The key seems to be, have multiple creators and multiple scorers..




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