Baines v Sigurdsson

Swansea’s visit to Goodison brings together two of the most frequent chance-creators in the Premier League this season. Both Leighton Baines and Gylfi Sigurdsson lead the way in ‘key’ passes for their teams. When it comes to providing goals, Baines has 6 assists and Sigurdsson has 7. Only Cesc Fabregas (8) has more.

The different way the two go about delivering them is fairly striking. First up, let’s take a look at Baines:


As you’d expect, a hefty slice of Baines’ key passes come from wide areas – crosses, corners and set-pieces.

And here’s how Sigurdsson looks:

Siggy KP Graphic

Next to nothing from wide and a decent number of through-balls into the box.

According to my Chance Creation Model, the average player in the average team would get around 2 assists from both players’ sets of key passes. Obviously then, both Baines and Sigurdsson are hugely outperforming the model. Only when we come to simulate over and over the kinds of chances the two create do we see the probability of such an overperformance. It’s around a 1%:


The distribution of probabilities we see here are important. What’s the likelihood of either getting more than the 2 assists roughly expected of both? For Baines it’s about 27%. For Sigurdsson it’s about 36%:


Even with less key passes from Sigurdsson, the danger level of his through-balls is important. On average, a through-ball is roughly twice as dangerous as a cross: hence the likelihood of more assists than Baines. That’s not to say teams and players cannot buck this trend. I looked last week at how Everton are making the left hand side more varied and getting more bodies in the danger zone where it matters.

That said, with such a small likelihood of the number of assists Baines has got so far, it is inconceivable that he will continue to do so at the same rate. The same goes for Sigurdsson, even with his more potent through-balls.

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