Ranked! The 20 WORST finishers in the Premier League... according to Expected Goals (xG)
10. Joselu (-2.19)
It's to Rafa Benitez’s credit that he’s got a tune out of Joselu. Admittedly it’s less Chopin, more Chopsticks, but the Newcastle striker has played his part as a focal point despite enduring a terrible season in front of goal.
Joselu’s 2017/18 nadir was a hat-trick of missed goalscoring opportunities against his former club Stoke, all of which should have been converted. Meanwhile, Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 11 goals in 13 games on loan at Fulham. Awkward.
9. Erik Lamela (-2.21)
After scoring 15 Serie A goals in Roma’s 2012/13 campaign, a 21-year-old Lamela joined Spurs and has found the net only eight times in five Premier League seasons since.
Although his game has changed considerably, from hotshot to harrier, Lamela nonetheless lacks the confidence in front of goal that defines one or two of his team-mates. He's been denied at close range by Southampton, shot tamely from a great position in the North London Derby, and saw Stoke’s Jack Butland save his sliding toepoke from five yards out (xG: 0.76). Still, Christian Eriksen made the score 5-0 a minute later in that game, so never mind.
8. Kelechi Iheanacho (-2.65)
Hitting the woodwork twice in the space of four seconds as Leicester lost to Everton was unfortunate, but if anything sums up Iheanacho’s wretched season, it’s his failure to score from this position against Swansea. His poacher’s instinct has utterly abandoned him.
7. Alvaro Morata (-2.67)
...how it was meant to be.
6. Gabriel Jesus (-2.93)
This entry does seem surprising, but then Jesus has failed with eight of his 11 attempts from inside the six-yard box, despite hitting the target or goalframe with all eight. The Brazilian has also taken two penalties and missed them both.
5. Dwight Gayle (-3.08)
Five goals from 47 shots isn’t a fantastic return, especially when three-quarters of those shots are taken inside the area. Four times, Gayle has failed even to test the keeper with a shot carrying an xG value of 0.33 or more. Put simply, he misses the target too often from good positions.
4. Dominic Solanke (-3.30)
As Solanke’s would-be winner against West Brom was disallowed for handball, the 20-year-old still has more England caps (one) than Premier League goals.
He has come close. Against Swansea, an exquisite volley flashed wide, moments after he failed to convert a tricky-but-scorable chance from just a few yards out. However, he also missed from three yards against Burnley – albeit with the ball behind him and at an awkward height; then, in the first 15 minutes of this month’s Merseyside derby, Solanke flicked an unmarked header wide before shooting straight at Jordan Pickford from close range.
None of these chances were gimmes, despite the short distances involved. But, playing for Liverpool and England, they are chances he needs to start taking.
3. Tom Ince (-4.23)
David Wagner is a patient man. Although the Huddersfield boss surely recognises that stats aren’t everything, he must have been tempted to drop Ince when Guv’nor Junior played 1,527 minutes (or 17 full matches) before registering his first goal or assist of the Premier League season, on Boxing Day.
That tally now stands at two goals, despite his 67 shots putting Ince in the league’s top 15 names for quantity, if not quality. Still no assists.
2. Richarlison (-4.53)
The Brazilian scored five goals in his first 12 Premier League appearances, only to draw blanks in the 23 he’s made since. His last Watford goal came on November 19.
Richarlison hasn’t stopped buying tickets to the raffle, though. No, no: the 21-year-old’s shot count this season is surpassed only by Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Sergio Aguero. But Richarlison wasn’t exactly taking every opportunity before his drought began, either: when Watford lost 4-2 to Chelsea last October, having led 2-1, Richarlison contrived to miss from less than six yards while totally unmarked. Twice.
1. Christian Benteke (-8.26)
Some of the players can be forgiven for making our ‘top’ 20. A few are harsh victims of Lady Data. Benteke, on the other hand, has scored two goals from a total xG value of 10.26, which is nothing short of disgraceful.
It’s true that Crystal Palace benefit from having Benteke – who is seemingly undroppable when fit – as a focal point, but he has failed to convert wonderful goalscoring opportunities against Liverpool, Southampton, Manchester City, Burnley and Newcastle, to name just five.
Oh, and he broke rank to insist on taking a last-minute penalty with the score tied against Bournemouth, only to tap it tamely straight at the keeper. Still, though. Focal point.