Who are the Premiership’s most prolific attackers?

Who are the Premiership’s most prolific attackers?

By James Cairney

Earlier in the week, we had a look at the Premiership’s most effective playmakers by examining their individual expected assists (xA). Now, we’re going to highlight the league’s most potent attackers by looking at players with the highest individual expected goals (xG).


The higher a forward’s xG, the more likely they are to convert opportunities when they arise. The likes of Alfredo Morelos (the top-flight’s highest scorer) may have a large goal haul, but what about his xG per 90 mins? By examining this, we gain a clearer view of the likelihood of a player finding the back of the net over the course of a match. As before, players had to play at least 600 minutes of league football to make the cut.


Moussa Dembele


Celtic’s French forward just sneaks into top spot here, having racked up 633 minutes so far in the league. Moussa Dembele’s return of four league goals is a significantly more modest return than at this stage last season, but injury has played its part in this campaign.


The former Fulham striker has the highest xG/90 mins ratio of any player in the division with 0.77. However, the in-demand centre forward’s cumulative xG for Premiership fixtures is 5.3 – this means that Dembele should probably have another goal to his name. Ultimately, though, Dembele should be proud of his shot conversion rate – the numbers say he is one of the most effective attackers in the Premiership.


Scott Sinclair


Another Celtic player who has been criticised for not matching the performance level of the previous campaign, Scott Sinclair is only bettered by Dembele with regards to their xG/90 mins. The ex-Manchester City winger has an impressive 0.75 – meaning that for every four matches he plays, Sinclair can be expected to score on three occasions.



Unlike Dembele, however, Sinclair has been a near-constant feature of Celtic’s lineup this season. The Englishman has over 1500 minutes on the pitch this season, giving him the highest cumulative xG of any player in the Premiership with 12.14. Again, this is slightly higher than Sinclair’s actual goal return of nine – perhaps the winger can do a little better after all.


Leigh Griffiths


Ensuring an all-Celtic top three, Leigh Griffiths follows Sinclair and ranks third in the league for xG/90 mins with 0.68. The Scotland international has been outscoring Dembele this campaign, however it should be pointed out that he’s played a bit more than Dembele (around 300 minutes more). Roughly, Griffiths’ record converts to two goals every three games.


The 27-year-old’s total xG for the season so far is 7.99, one goal higher than his actual haul of seven. Like a few Celtic players, Griffiths has struggled to perform as well as he did in 2016/17 but with three of the Premiership’s most effective attackers on the books at Celtic Park, Hoops fans shouldn’t have too much to worry about.



Alfredo Morelos


The Colombian has made quite the impact at Ibrox since joining from HJK Helsinki in the summer. The 21-year-old is the Premiership’s top scorer and has an xG/90 mins rate of 0.6 – or three goals every five games, if you prefer. Alfredo Morelos’ xG/90 is the highest of any non-Celtic player in the league.


Morelos has been a near-constant fixture in the Gers side this season which is why he has outstripped the likes of Dembele and Griffiths with his goal haul. His overall xG of 10.21 is only bettered by Sinclair. Once again, though, the xG data suggests the striker could be doing a little better – his cumulative xG is a single goal higher than his real-life tally.


Kris Boyd


The best barometer to measure Steve Clarke’s impact at Kilmarnock is undoubtedly the league table, although the 54-year-old’s impact on Kris Boyd’s form has been every bit as startling. Boyd rounds off our top five with an xG/90 mins of 0.55 – more than a goal every second game.



Only Morelos has more Premiership goals than Boyd this season, but the Rugby Park favourite’s cumulative xG is particularly noteworthy. His xG/90 mins of 7.92 is respectable but not hugely impressive, but with one crucial difference to the others in the top five. Boyd’s actual goal return of nine surpasses his cumulative xG, meaning that the 34-year-old is over-performing at the moment by finding the net more often than he reasonably ought to, paying testament to the goalscoring prowess of the former Scotland international.

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