The stats that put Patrick Bamford among Europe’s most dangerous forwards this season

It’s a debate that has been raging in football boozers for years: who is the better striker, Robert Lewandowski or Patrick Bamford (£3.1m)?

Many of you will already be scoffing and releasing involuntary expletives as you curse our ignorance, but calm down, the Bayern Munich No9 is actually pretty decent.

Lewandowski averages an impressive 3.7 shots inside the box per 90 minutes, which is just 0.1 fewer than the Leeds centre-forward.

In fact, the only players who average more shots per 90 minutes  than Bamford in Europe’s top five leagues this season are Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic — decent company, eh?

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Removing our tongue from our cheek, Bamford’s inclusion is this list is enough to raise eyebrows to even Jaap Stam’s hairline.

The calibre of the other strikers mentioned indicates the metric is a useful indicator of effectiveness.

The basic logic being: the more shots you get in the box the more likely you are to score a goal.

Now get your Dream Team hat on and consider the potential of Marcelo Bielsa’s pseudo-son.

He’s already accumulated a very respectable 65 points but the underlying numbers suggests he could become one of the Premier League’s top-bracket performers this season.

Bamford’s expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes is currently 0.76, meaning the boffins would expect him to score roughly three goals every four games based on the quality of the chances he’s been presented.

And this more or less checks out, since the 27-year-old has scored seven goals in ten league games.

What’s tantalising is Bamford’s possible returns if he is able to improve his efficiency.

The other Premier League players afforded more than three shots in the box per 90 minutes pale in comparison when it comes to xG (excluding penalties).

  • Tammy Abraham (£3.2m) 0.46
  • Aleksandar Mitrovic (£2.6m) 0.34
  • Mohamed Salah (£6.6m) 0.31

Cutting through all the decimal points, the main takeaway is that Leeds are frequently creating exceedingly good chances for their No9.

Only Liverpool have had more shots than the Yorkshire club at the time of writing and more detailed stats relating to attacking effectiveness (we won’t bore you with them here) also rank the defending champions as the only team above Bielsa’s unit.

With 40 shots registered, Bamford has attempted to score more often than any other player this season, just edging out Harry Kane (£7.8m), Salah and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£4.4m).

However, don’t go replacing Kane with Bamford just yet.

The ex-Chelsea forward has a rather infamous relationship with xG; last season he was statistically wasteful despite scoring 16 goals during the Whites’ successful Championship campaign.

This season he has eliminated his inefficiency but, looking forward, it would be a bold declaration if someone were to suggest he is more likely to overperform against xG rather than maintaining or regressing.

Ultra cynical observers may even claim a regression is already underway, since Bamford has blanked in three of his last four fixtures.

Leeds were eliminated from the EFL Cup in the fourth round and obviously don’t have European commitments, meaning Bamford has fewer games at his disposal (and therefore fewer opportunities to score points) compared to the likes of Kane, Marcus Rashford (£4.8m) and Raheem Sterling (£7.2m).

And yet, if a sizeable chunk of your budget is tied up in expensive midfielders such as Kevin De Bruyne (£6.2m) and Bruno Fernandes (£5.6m), Bamford represents a potentially savvy forward option at £3.1m.

One for the stats nerds.

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