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Wayne Rooney | Scoring Efficiently

So far this season Wayne Rooney has scored eight (8!!) goals in the English Premier League. Wayne Rooney’s scoring efficiency is exceptional and unlikely to be sustained.  We’re not saying the pace at which he scores goals is unsustainable, that is certainly the case, but rather the high rate at which he is converting chances is amazingly high.

The author has already written one post about Rooney’s goalscoring form this season, writing:

In fact, the statistics are somewhat silly at this point.  Rooney has scored more goals than all three promoted sides. He has as many goals as the bottom four teams in the table. He has outscored every single team in the English Premier League except Manchester City.

Rooney’s numbers are quite good so far but, looking back over Rooney’s previous three seasons, there are a number of statistics that point to a consistent level of production which can reasonably be expected from Rooney.  Not the least among these is the minutes that he’s played in the English Premier League.  From the chart below we can see Rooney has already played 360 minutes over the four fixtures.  Those minutes would account for 15% of a typical season for Rooney, while accounting for only 10% of the full EPL slate.  Taking everything on a ‘per minute’ basis we can see that he is performing well above his average season, most notably in shooting accuracy and shots on target per minute.

The combination of a higher shooting accuracy and minutes per shot on target has led to an absurdly high chance conversion rate (42%) that is exactly twice as high as his best full seasons (2009-10 when he scored 26 goals on 126 shots in 2723′).  Even if Rooney plays only 2,404′ (an ‘average’ number of minutes per EPL season for him in the past 3 years) he would be on pace to score more than 53 goals.  So clearly we need to look beyond the raw goals total to determine where Rooney is making the largest stride and what numbers we can look to to see what pace Rooney could set.

To extrapolate his current numbers out over a full season (3,420′) Rooney would be looking at creating 114 chances, last season in the EPL Nani played 2,668′ and created 78 chances of which 14 became assists.  That is 99.98 chances in 3,420′. Even Rooney, himself adding 11 assists last season, created just 60 chances in 2,226′ (or 92 chances).  In addition, Rooney is taking an accurate shot every 28′.  That extrapolates to 122 accurate shots in 3,420′.  Instead, lets take a look at his ‘average season’ where he plays 2,404′.  That would be 80 chances created.  That is not outside the realms of possibility, in fact it is only 6 more than he created in 2008-09.

More Silly Hats In Wayne's Future?

Using Rooney’s average season, and taking his highest recent chance conversion of 21%. That number is created by dividing his goals scored by his total shots and rounded.  If, for example, Rooney was converting at 21% instead of 42% he would have only 4 goals, still an amazing total and one that would keep him on pace for more than 26 in an average year.

That is the interesting part, Rooney is getting more chances.  It is not simply that he is converting them at a remarkable rate, but he is getting a good deal more.  His current pace would have him getting 126 shots this season (playing 2,404′) the same number of shots he got in 2009-10 when he scored 26.  But in that season he played 2,723′, a full 300′ more than he typically plays (in reality a full 500′ more than he average in 2008-09 and 10-11; that’s 5 and a half extra matches). Assuming that Rooney and Manchester United are capable of recreating the 2009-10 season he could still be good for another 26 goals this season based solely on the number of shots he’s taking this season and a conversion rate of 21%

This is the remarkable part.  Should Rooney be able to play as many minute as he did in ’09-’10, these first four games can nearly be discounted in terms of a goals scored projection.  In otherwords, we can project him, based on the numbers presented here, for a season where he played 2,404′ and scored aproximately 26 EPL goals and we can make that projection as if the season started today.  Of course, he already has his 8 goals in the bank which means: while it is undoubted that he will not score anywhere close to 50 EPL goals, it is likely (barring injury) that he will challenge Christiano Ronaldo’s 31 goals from the 2007-08 season.

Rooney is not the only player who is off to a tremendous start.  Both Kun Aguero and Edin Dzeko are off to equally good, if not slightly superior, campaigns.  In looking at their numbers alongside one another it is clear that all three are outstanding.

While Rooney has played the full compliment of EPL minutes available to him, both of the Manchester City strikers have been rotated and missed at least one match worth of playing time.  Given the discrepancy in Dzeko’s numbers between this year and last it is unfair to use those as a barometer for success this season.  Similarly, Aguero is in a new league and with a new team.  While either could outstrip Rooney in the race for the EPL’s top scorer, Rooney’s track record allows for a more reliable projection.

Playing in the same team may also make it difficult, though not impossible, for City’s duo to challenge Rooney.  In 2009-10 Chelsea had two players break 20 goals, Drogba (29) and Lampard (22) while the team scored 103 goals.   Drogba won the Golden Boot starting just 31 games (and making one substitute appearance) so it is certainly a possibility that Dzeko or Aguero could replicate that feat. Despite this, Rooney looks a better bet as he’s been able to keep pace with Dzeko and Aguero over 100′ extra minutes.  When discussing pace – take the player who has done it longer.

If you believe Anfield69’s article Golden Boot – A Shoe In for the Title, the title will be headed to the home of the Golden Boot winner. If you believe these numbers, Rooney will be lifting the boot.

Cooper is the founder of - All the Info You Need to Win Your Fantasy EPL League. He also contributes to Backpage Football. Follow him on Twitter @FantasyGaffer.
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