After analysing the relationship between goals and expected goals (xG) on a team and individual level, it’s now time to look at the chance creators of last season’s Eliteserien.

In addition to assists and expected assists (xA), Stratabet’s data also records the player who had the second last pass before the attempt on goal was made. We’ve labelled this category ‘Secondary Assist’ and ‘Expected Secondary Assist (xSA)’ for the purpose of this analysis.

Fundamentally, a player has less influence over whether they achieve an assist (or secondary assist) compared to scoring a goal, reliant as they are on another player actually converting the chance they have set up for them. A player can execute three fantastic passes to set up three great chances, but if those chances are all missed due to bad finishing, great goalkeeping or simply bad luck, the player gets no recognition in terms of an assist.

The xA and xSA categories gives credit where credit is due by looking at the quality of the chance created by these passes rather than whether a goal was scored or not. This is done by measuring the xG value of the attempt on goal they helped set up, which in these cases becomes the xA and xSA values.

By combining the actual assists and secondary assists achieved by a player and then comparing them to their xA and xSA values, we can identify which players didn’t get the assists and secondary assists ‘expected’ based on the chances they helped set up; they are under-performing in the relationship between actual and expected assists.

It also lets us identify players whose assist numbers may be ‘inflated’; the chances they’ve been involved it would not be expected to yield the amount of assists and secondary assists they actually have; there has been an over-performing in the relationship between actual and expected assists.

As with our analysis of xG, we plotted a graph for all the players with 675 or more minutes on the pitch (25% of the total possible playing time in a season) who also had at least one assist or secondary assist. We also added the combined xA and xSA of each of the player, allowing us to visualise the degree of over and under-performance among Eliteserien players last season (all numbers are per full 90 minutes played – p90).

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The results are interesting. The player who recorded the biggest under-performance p90 is Viking’s young winger Zymer Bytyqi. While having quite a small sample of just over eight full 90 minutes played, he had almost two expected assists + secondary assists less than expected, and average of 0.23 p90 min.

Bytyqi was seen as one of Norway’s biggest talents when he went to RB Salzburg as a 16-year-old in 2013, but there has been questions around his attitude and performance level at Viking since returning to Norway two years ago. However, Bytyqi’s xA + xSA per 90m of 0.48 was actually the second highest in the league last season, after runaway leader Pål Andre Helland at Rosenborg. That’s worth repeating; the player with the second best stats in terms of involvement in chance creation per game was someone who is mostly seen as frustrating talent not performing anywhere close to his full potential.

While some precautions should be taken due to the fairly small sample it does seem
like Bytyqi’s contributions have been under appreciated so far. If he can keep these xA and xSA ratios over a bigger sample of games this season, he’ll easily be among the most creative players in the league.

Just behind Bytyqi on the ‘under-performance’ table is a familiar name from our xG analysis, Haugesund’s young Nigerian striker Shuaibu Ibrahim. He went viral online last season with a terrible miss against Lillestrøm, and while his sample – like Bytyqi – is only about eight full 90 minutes played, he has now placed second in terms of under-performance for both xG and xA + xSA. This is a player who gets into the right goal scoring positions and contributes significantly in setting up chances for his team when he is on the pitch. With some more composure in front of goal and slightly more effective finishing by his teammates, Ibrahim might well be a big presence in both the goalscoring and assist charts this season.

Another player who makes it into the top 20 under-performers in terms of both goals and assists is another Nigerian, Samuel Adegbenro at Viking. No. 13 in terms of under-performance in goals (with a .20 difference to expected goals p90 min), he is third on the assist / secondary assists table with 0.18 difference to xA + xSA p90min.

In terms of players who have ‘over-performed’ in terms of assists and secondary assists we find two veterans, Eidjur Godjohnson (who retired halfway through last season) and Brann’s Erik Huseklepp with a difference of 0.44 and 0.34 p90min respectively.

Also interesting to note is that the league leader in assists last season, Sogndal’s Gerald Koomson, only recorded a slight under-performance compared to his xA + xSA numbers. His form and contributions looks sustainable and he won’t be at Sogndal for long if he replicate these numbers this season

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In the coming days we’ll be doing combined graph and tables for xG, xA and xSA to give the full picture of the underlying offensive numbers from last season’s Eliteserien before it all kick off again on 1st April.

This article was written with the aid of StrataData, which is property of Stratagem Technologies. StrataData powers the StrataBet Sports Trading Platform, in addition to StrataBet Premium Recommendations.