8 months ago by Sporting Life


Data shows Pukki still firing for Norwich

Let’s be honest, it’s unlikely we’ll see Aleksandar Mitrović‘s record-setting 2021/22 campaign bettered any time soon, a simply astonishing 43 goals enough to win the Championship golden boot by a margin of 14.
Dominic Solanke’s excellent season was rather over shadowed as a result, with the Bournemouth striker’s 29 goals putting him seven clear of the remainder, posting a more realistic total for the usual winner.
Of course, both Mitrović and Solanke played a significant part in helping their clubs reach the promised land of the Premier League, a hint in itself in selecting a top scorer for the second tier.
Their success last term, and tallies from previous seasons, can give us an indication as to who might be top the leaderboard in 22/23.
In addition to last season, Mitrović shared honours with Ollie Watkins as top scorer in 2019/20.
Ivan Toney’s goals propelled Brentford to the big time in 20/21, not seen as an outlier now given the consistent improvement the Bees made before impressing in their maiden Premier League season.
Yo-yo clubs fairly dominate the promotion betting at pre-season, which brings me, as if by design, to the headline selection in the market.

Fulham may well be fresh in the thoughts as the ultimate yo-yo club, but Norwich is another team that spring to many a mind as being too good for the Championship and not good enough for the Premier League.
The fact Norwich put up a putrid performance going forward last season, scoring 26 goals in 38 games, can be overlooked considering their apparent contentment in being the ~20th best team in English football.
The Canaries did exactly that in an eerily similar 2019/20 campaign, before bouncing back to be the best attacking team in the 2020/21 Championship per expected goals (xG).
If that happens again, as we suspect it might, TEEMU PUKKI is more than a worthy favourite for the crown of Championship top scorer.

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Finland’s record goal scorer needs little introduction as a contender at this level, serving up stellar numbers since joining Norwich in 2018.
Pukki topped the Championship charts in his debut season with the club, scoring 29 goals from 22.67 xG, and finished third in 2019/20, logging fewer minutes than his competition when netting 26 times from 24.73 xG.
The 32-year-old didn’t disgrace himself in two seasons in the Premier League, either, despite Norwich’s inability to create many scoring opportunities, tallying 11 goals in each of those top-tier terms.
With Pukki certainly not showing any signs of losing a step, a return to this level should see the Finn flourish.
A solid selection next up is with West Brom and KARLAN GRANT.
Daryl Dike will interest many, displaying the attributes needed to score goals in the Championship during a brief stint with Barnsley in 19/20, but he displays little value. Instead, his teammate is much more intriguing.

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Grant was clearly West Brom’s standout player in a disappointing 21/22 campaign for the club, scoring 18 goals from 20.41 xG and picking up the Players’ Player of the Year award.
Not the type to benefit from Valerien Ismael’s style, Grant still managed to score 10 times, before impressing greatly with eight goals from 10.41 xG since Steve Bruce took over in February.
Although West Brom were 17th in goals scored last season (52), they ranked third in expected goals for (xGF), proving not to be short on creativity despite a poor mid-table finish.
An underperformance on the 77.5 xG manufactured had little to do with Grant’s efforts, who also scored 19 goals from 18.19 xG for Huddersfield in the prior season.
At 24, Grant is moving into his peak years, has a proven goal-getting record at Championship level and a history of taking penalties for the Baggies.

Few players appeal from the next raft of Championship favourites, but Coventry’s MATT GODDEN has shown that he meets the level required to be a good each-way selection.

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Coventry created chances equating to an average of 1.50 xG per game last season, the fifth-highest figure in the Championship, showing a propensity to provide opportunities for their forward players.
Although Viktor Gyökeres netted 18 times for Coventry last season, Godden’s 12 goals came in limited time, playing just 1,710 minutes in an interrupted 21/22.
He averaged 0.52 xG per average match, 0.11 more than Gyökeres.
Godden’s injury history may raise concerns, but the nature of his absence last term (an appendix operation) settles worries that this might be a huge problem. He could go well this season in an attack-minded Coventry side.

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