Friday, July 1, 2022

Where Patson Daka leads the way in Europe and what it means for his second Leicester City season

The Zambian striker finished his first season at Leicester City with 11 goals to his name, but was able to show he is one of the most instinctive finishers in Europe.

There was a point during last season where Patson Daka looked like he might finish as Leicester City’s top scorer. He was scoring regularly in Europe and then when his chance came in the Premier League following Jamie Vardy’s injury, he scored three in three games in January.

But with just one goal in his final 17 appearances, it left Daka describing his maiden campaign at the King Power Stadium as “okay” and “not really the best like I expected”. However, there was one chart he did top at the end of the season. And in fact, he didn’t just top this chart at City, but in the whole of Europe.

Take all of the players in the continent’s top five divisions and nobody had a higher percentage of first-time shots than Daka did. For more than 80 per cent of his efforts on goal, he did not take a touch to control, but hit it immediately.

He did not have the most first-time shots in Europe. He is behind elite goalscorers like Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland, and, leading the way, Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, on that front, simply because of the number of chances they create, and are created for them. But in terms of a percentage of shots, Daka topped the list.

It reveals a fair amount about his game, and most of it is good. Many of his shots are first time because he has already done the hard work with his movement and his positioning. Daka grabbed a handful of goals last season by being in the right area to finish off a rebound, or by timing his run to perfection to allow for a simple one-on-one.

But some were also by design. There was an element to some of Daka’s first-time shots where he struck the ball early, even when time and space allowed for a touch, in order to catch a goalkeeper out.

None of Daka’s finishes are going to be goal-of-the-season contenders. City could have doubled their list of 10 nominees for last term and the Zambian still would not have made the list.

But scruffy goals count all the same. Being in the right place or taking shots early will see Daka rack up plenty of goals during his time at the King Power Stadium.

However, of Daka’s 11 City goals, only six were first-time finishes. So while more than 80 per cent of his shots were first time, just 55 per cent of his goals were. His success rate at finding the net was better when he took a touch to control first.

That’s a big skill too. The perfect first touch for a forward can put the ball in a better position, allow for a cleaner strike, and most importantly, greatly increase the chances of sticking it away.

It’s not just about having the technical quality to control the ball and set it in the right place for a finish, but having the composure to do so too. It requires a greater awareness of where defenders are and how much time there is to get a shot away.

That looks to be the area Daka needs to improve. There were plenty of promising moments in his first season, but with a few adjustments and improvements, he can make his second campaign even better.

(Leicester Mercury )

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  1. 11 goals in a debut season in England is no joke. more so that most of these were against international teams in Club Championships, we hope for the best for him and all Zambians plying their football trade outside the country.

  2. The boy never got the desired service in the premiership; when Vardy was playing it was instinctive for all the player maker’s to release vital passes to him, no doubt his history and senior status in the team demanded it. Patson being the new baby that he is never commanded such respect and as a result did all the running and grabbed whatever chances came his way. His work rate and position is to die for, as his team mates learn to respect the boy the sky will not be the limit for this deadly hunter 🙏🏿

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