Four of the most interesting stats from the Scottish Premiership so far

Olivier Ntcham - loves a pass. Picture: SNS
Olivier Ntcham - loves a pass. Picture: SNS
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To help you look forward to week six of the Scottish Premiership season, we’ve collated some of the most interesting advanced statistics thus far.

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Rangers winger leads the league in crosses

Daniel Candeias has impressed since his summer signing from Benfica. The 29-year-old may be getting on a bit for a man in his position, but with age comes experience, and Candeias knows how to use his skills effectively: he stays wide, keeps the shape of the team, offers an out-ball, and gets his crosses in early. While he leads the league in deliveries from wide areas (45), he’s taken on the opposing defender only eight times. He knows his strengths and weaknesses.

What makes this statistic particularly stand out is the difference between Candeias’ output and the closest contender. Michael Gardyne of Ross County has 14 fewer crosses to his name. That’s quite the leap after only five games.

Furthermore, Candeias has attempted almost half as many crosses as the leading winger from last season, Barrie McKay, who had 93 across the whole of the league campaign.

St Johnstone keeper is the safest pair of hands

All stats require a certain amount of context. Just because you have the highest passing percentage, doesn’t mean you’re the best passer. Just because you have the highest shooting percentage, doesn’t mean you’re the best goalscorer. And just because your saves-to-goals-conceded ratio is the best in the league, doesn’t mean you’re the best goalkeeper either. That being said, it’s obviously better to save a high percentage of the shots you face, and Alan Mannus has been the best through the first five games.

This statistic speaks to the quality of St Johnstone’s defence. The four-man unit is as solid as they come, while Paul Paton has been excellent thus far as the midfield protector, breaking up play in front of them. It means opposing strikers generally have tougher chances when going to shoot. Although, as we saw this past weekend with his superb stop from Martin Boyle, when the wall is penetrated, he’s more than capable of pulling off a spectacular denial.

The top three (shots faced/goals conceded - percentage of shots saved)

Mannus - 24/4 - 83 per cent

Lewis - 22/5 - 77 per cent

Gordon - 11/3 - 72 per cent

Olivier Ntcham is the passing king

The leader for total number of passing attempted is Scott Brown, but while the club captain has played every minute this season for Celtic, Ntcham has been rotated in and out of the line up and subbed off in all three of his starts. In terms of passes attempted per 90 minutes, Ntcham is way out in front of his team-mate with almost 108 a game. To put into context how impressive that is, Nir Bitton led the league with 78.59 per 90 minutes across last season.

This speaks to the kind of player Celtic have signed. From watching clips of him in Serie A with Genoa, you’d have thought Celtic were signing an energetic enforcer who loved nothing more than to bound forward and shoot from distance. While he’s shown glimpses of those skills, what Brendan Rodgers wants him to do first and foremost is help the side dominate possession, and that’s certainly what he’s done thus far.

Kilmarnock are punting it long to Lee Erwin

The striker has played just 285 minutes to this point, but he’s already second in the league behind Aberdeen defender Andrew Considine in aerial duels contested (59 in total). It means per 90 minutes he’s way out in front, battling opposing defenders 18.63 times on average. Fellow Killie striker Kris Boyd is high up the table as well with 13.02 per game - 4th among all players.

Lee McCulloch has bemoaned his side’s tendency to go direct too quickly in certain games, preferring them to try and pass through their opponents.

It certainly isn’t the best way to get the most out of Erwin. A big attacker though he may be, his strength comes in his dynamism and willingness to run the channels, which makes him a duel threat in tandem with his physicality. In terms of actual aerial ability, his success rate is only 28.81 per cent, which is currently far lower than the likes of Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Bowman and Anthony Stokes among several others.

Strangely, Kilmarnock as a team aren’t prone to knocking the ball long, registering the fifth fewest long passes of the 12 Ladbrokes Premiership teams, but defender Gordon Greer does lead all outfield players in that category. It’s their plan B when they can’t get the wingers involved in the play, with the lack of an impressive No.10 due to the absence of Greg Kiltie hurting their ability to play through teams also.

With only one point from five games, McCulloch will have to find a solution and do so quickly.

• All statistics are provided by Wyscout.

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