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Evaluating Martin Ødegaard’s 2017/18 Season With Advanced Stats

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Ødegaard’s shooting may be off, but he’s having a very good season on the chance creation front.

SC Heerenveen v PSV Eindhoven - Eredivisie Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Imagesages

The general feeling among Madridistas is that Martin Ødegaard is developing positively with Heerenveen in the Eredivisie. Resident Castilla expert Sam Sharpe had good things to say about Ødegaard’s development early into his Heerenveen stint, and our very own Kiyan Sobhani has written multiple articles (here are two: Martin Ødegaard Is Doing Just Fine & Martin Ødegaard Has Hit A New Gear) on how Madrid’s Norwegian is excelling in the first division of the Dutch league. However, critics remain, and they often point to Ødegaard’s poor output as reason for their doubts.

Indeed, Martin’s goal and assist numbers look rather pitiful over the past one and a half seasons (note: Ødegaard only joined Heerenveen in January of 2017).

Martin Ødegaard’s Goals & Assists With Heerenveen

Team Season Goals Assists
Team Season Goals Assists
Heerenveen 16/17 1 3
Heerenveen 17/18 1 1

According to whoscored.com, Ødegaard has failed to manage more than 2 goals and 5 assists across his 16/17 and 17/18 seasons with the mid-table Dutch club. Looking at these figures alone, it’s easy to label the Madrid starlet as a flop. However, when advanced statistics are brought to the table, a different story emerges.

Right off the bat, the above graphic tells you that Ødegaard creates a strong amount of chances for his team. His total chances created as of February 24th, 2018, is 38, which amounts to approximately 1.95 chances created every 90 minutes (p90). The quality of those chances are also quite high. His expected assists, or xA, (which is calculated based on the quality of the shooting location) per chance is 0.143 and his total xA for the 2017/18 league season is 5.44. Despite this, Ødegaard only has 1 assist, confirming the theory that his teammates have been wasting his chances.

These numbers look even more impressive when we step back and compare Ødegaard’s chance creation numbers against the rest of his team. No one on Heerenveen has a greater xA or chances created total than Ødegaard. Additionally, the young 19-year-old is also 2nd most in secondary chances (the pass before the final pass) created, demonstrating how instrumental he is to his side’s attacking play. Thus, it’s clear that Martin is his side’s best creator, something that would be difficult to ascertain if you were just paying attention to his assist figures.

If we expand our scope to dribbles (just for kicks), Ødegaard still remains on top.

whoscored.com

Thus, these stats, when coupled with the eye-test, tell you that Ødegaard excels at breaking down lines of defense. As shown by his xA map, he also enjoys cutting in from the right-wing, can play killer passes from anywhere on the field, and has a knack for delivering a good set-piece. But what about his shooting?

Here, the critics may have a point. Close followers of Ødegaard know that shooting has never been his strong suit, and it’s clear to see that he hasn’t improved significantly in this department at Heerenveen. His shot locations are awful, quite frankly, and he needs to work on his decision-making when pulling the trigger (while also learning how to get into better positions to score). In his defense, it’s clear that Ødegaard is tasked with large creative duties, meaning he likely doesn’t have the luxury of getting into the box while his teammates dictate play. This would explain why he mainly shoots from outside the box, as he is mostly forced to create opportunities for himself.

However, that doesn’t excuse his finishing, which looks like it needs to be worked on (although the sample size isn’t great). He has an expected goal total of 2.66 while having only 1 goal for the season.

Nevertheless, these are things that can be rectified as Ødegaard matures and plays with better teammates in the future. For now, his main duty at Heerenveen is to create chances and break down defenses with his passing and dribbling; something that the advanced stats say he’s excelling at.


This article was written with the aid of StrataData, which is property of Stratagem Technologies. StrataData powers the StrataBet Sports Trading Platform, in addition to StrataBet Premium Recommendations.