Data analysis: Top creators in WSL 2022/2023

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20: Guro Reiten of Chelsea holds off pressure from Amy Turner of Tottenham during the FA Women's Super League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on November 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

You can look at it from different angles, but in the end, football is all about goals. When we look at the goals scored for teams, we often tend to look at the goalscorers. But, just as important are the players that create those goals and that’s what we will go deeper into today. Who are the top creators in the WSL 2022/2023 so far?

To determine who are the best creators, we will look at data. The data used in this piece comes from FBRef and is data from Opta. You can find the data here. To make it relevant we have selected three different metrics:

  • Assists (A): the passes leading to a goal being scored
  • Expected goals assisted (xAG): xG which follows a pass that assists a shot
  • Assists – Expected goals assisted (A-xAG): measuring if someone is overperforming/underperforming on the assists metrics.

All the data in this article are per 90 minutes and to make it representative, each player in the database has played at least 450 minutes or 5 full 90s. The data was collected on November 29th, 2022.

WSL leaders: Expected goals assisted vs Assists

In the scatterplot above you can see the two metrics combined. Expected goals assisted and Assists are portrayed in this plot, in which we measure how likely a player is giving an assist.

Looking at the xAG per 90 minutes in the WSL we see the following leaders:

  1. Chloe Kelly (Manchester City) – 0,4 xAG
  2. Lauren Hemp (Manchester City) – 0,32 xAG
  3. Bunny Shaw (Manchester City) – 0,31 xAG
  4. Caitlin Foord (Arsenal) – 0,25
  5. Beth Mead (Arsenal) – 0,21 xAG

It’s very interesting that the top 3 players play for Manchester City, which means that these players contribute with the final passing to higher xG chances in front of goal. In lesser extent this is also true for Arsenal players Foord and Mead.

Looking at the assists per 90 minutes in the WSL we see the following leaders:

  1. Guro Reiten (Chelsea) – 0,81
  2. Katie Zelem (Manchester United) – 0,71
  3. Beth Mead (Arsenal) – 0,59
  4. Caitlin Foord (Arsenal) – 0,53
  5. Leah Galton (Manchester United) – 0,45

No Manchester City in the assists given top 5 players, but Manchester United and Chelsea are. Reiten and Zelem really perform well with contributing 0,81 and 0,71 assists per 90. They prove to be great assets to their clubs.

WSL creators: overperforming or underperforming

How do we measure overperformance or underperformance in the creating metrics? Obviously, that’s quite hard to do with only a small amount of data, but we can give an indication of performance with it. In the bar graph above you can see the metric that measure performance based on actual and expected data. If you have have positive number, it means you are performing your expected goals assisted. Above you see the top 15 players in the WSL 2022/2023.

If we look at the players and where they play, we can see the following teams represented in the top 15:

  1. Arsenal – 4 players
  2. Manchester United – 3 players
  3. Tottenham – 2 players
  4. West Ham United – 2 players
  5. Manchester City – 1 player
  6. Chelsea – 1 player
  7. Aston Villa – 1 player
  8. Liverpool – 1 player

WSL: Conclusion

In the WSL so far we see a high percentage of the players coming from the top sides on the creating side of the game. That’s no surprise as the top sides often have more chances. Arsenal does well in the expected and actual assisting metrics, Manchester City underperforms and Guro Reiten is an elite player in this regard.

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