Recently, I was ‘caught’ in the middle of a twitter exchange between two fans of the same club debating which winger was better than the other. The usual goals/assists stats were put against each other with no clear winner. The radars looked pretty similar again with no clear winner however, one fan mentioned that his chosen player had the edge due to the importance of the goals/assists he had provided compared to the other.
This got me thinking. How can we measure the importance of goals? Obviously all goals count for the same but how can we determine a value of the goal in a 1-0 victory compared to the 5th goal in a 6-0 victory. Both goals count for the same but theres definitely something not quite right about that.
So I developed a formula for determining the value of a goal. I’d watch every goal and attach a value to it based on that game that would be equal for every team’s goal in the same situation. Each goal gets a certain amount of points and those points divided by the amount of goals they have determines the importance value.
My scoring value of goals are as follows :
10 importance points for the winning goal
5 points for the last equaliser in a draw
5 points for an un-equalised first goal thats not the winning goal in a win
2 points for an equalised first goal
2 points for a non winning goal in a game
1 point for any goal when scoring team is 3+ goals up
1 point for any consolation goal
I had put this to the test in the SPFL Championship to see what it would throw up. Initially I had feared that it would favour who don’t score a lot of goals but only score winning ones which would bloat the average however in the SPFL Championship Jason Cummings is the top scorer by a wide margin and sits second in the importance value thus showing you can succeed in the value category with scoring loads of goals.
So the next step was taking the importance model into Europe’s top 5 leagues. Obviously the player number is massive so I’ve narrowed the field down to players who have scored 15 goals or more so we can have the best goalscorers in Europe only. So here’s the results.
As you can see the top 10 from right to left with Gonzalo Higuain in 1st place and Edinson Cavani in 10th place. Again I feared it would benefit those that don’t score often but score winners however 7 out of the top ten in importance points feature in the top ten in value with Messi, Aubameyang and Dzeko missing out in value. Now the reason I have left Lionel Messi on the graphic is to show the most beneficial part of the importance value. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez obviously play in the same dominant Barcelona side with Messi notching 25 goals at the time of writing and Suarez just behind him on 22. Suarez is 5th in Europe’s leagues whereas Messi is bettered by the likes of Andrea Belotti and Edin Dzeko. How can this be? Well Messi may score more goals than anyone but Suarez scores more important goals for Barca at more important times in the game.
An honourable mention goes to Anthony Modeste who scores a lot of goals and scores at important times and also to Ciro Immobile who is 3rd on the list and has the same amount of importance points as Lionel Messi with 8 less goals.