Grading centre backs will always be much more of a challenge than grading attackers. They…
Let’s just be frank; Hibs have been excellent this season. Similarly, Hibs’ midfield has been excellent this season. Therefore it’s hardly a surprise that John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch were called up to Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad. However, the Leith side have a third key man in the middle of the park who is having a campaign to remember; Scott Allan.
We previously mentioned that the on-loan Celtic star would be a huge loss for Dundee in January. And whilst that has been the case, Dundee’s loss has very much been Hibs’ gain. The 26-year-old has hit the ground running and continues to impress in Neil Lennon’s side.
Just how good is he? We delved into the numbers to find out.
One of Allan’s main strengths is his passing ability. He’s a wonderful passer of the ball and is not only one of the best at his club but in the league. It’s an attribute that was on full display at Dundee and something he’s managed to sustain since arriving at Easter Road.
The graph above compares Allan’s passing rates to that of his Hibs midfield teammates. First off, it’s evident just how much of a creative outlet Allan is for Neil Lennon’s team. No other player in a Hibs jersey plays more key passes per 90 minutes (2.76). In essence, Allan is more likely than any of his teammates to play a pass that leads to a shot on goal.
What’s even more remarkable is the number of secondary shot assists (SSA) that the 26-year-old plays on average each match. Simply put, an SSA is a pass that leads to a key pass. Allan again tops the charts (1.29) ahead of both McGinn (1.18) and McGeouch (0.86). The fact he is his team’s top key pass maker but also comes out on top in this metric is impressive.
It doesn’t stop there. Allan’s rate of establishing passes (EP) per 90 minutes is also worth pointing out. An EP is the pass before an SSA and is one that starts a move which ends with a shot on goal. Danny Swanson has the best average here of 1.99 but Allan is second with a rate of 1.10. Again he’s ahead of the rest of his midfield teammates.
To put this in some context, if a player makes a significant amount of key passes you are likely to see a dip in either or both of their SSA and EP. This is simply because they are either the kind of player that starts off the move or the one that plays the killer pass. What the data here shows is that Allan is a bit of an anomaly. He not only plays passes that lead directly to shots but he also plays a part in every facet of build-up play that leads to said shot.
The table above only further emphasises Allan’s ability. When it comes to key passes per 90 minutes he is second overall in the Scottish Premiership. When you think about some of the players he is ahead of this is truly impressive.
Many seemed to forget about Allan at Dundee in the first half of the season. He struggled with injury but still managed to provide much-needed creativity to the Dens Park side. That creativity has been on full display from the very second he arrived at Hibs.
His first match back against Rangers felt like he had never left. He caused Graeme Murty’s side trouble any time he got on the ball. The 26-year-old has never looked back since then, which the table below shows.
When it comes to assists per 90 minutes, no player in the whole of the Scottish Premiership averages a better rate than Allan. Moreover, it’s not like Allan has a high rate in this metric by chance, he consistently provides assists. Overall he’s produced six this season which puts him in joint second place with James Tavernier and Liam Craig. Only Daniel Candeias has more.
Four of those assists have come in the six games he’s played in a Hibs jersey. His impressive performance at Ibrox resulted in him providing an assist and also winning the penalty which resulted in his team winning the game. And another assist against Partick Thistle at the weekend shows Allan is in peak form heading into the split.
McGinn and McGeouch have delivered for Neil Lennon’s side all the season, but it could be Allan that makes all the difference as Hibs battle for second place.