Give Me More Wings

Last night on Twitter, Tiago Estêvão@TiagoEstv posted a fascinating analysis of performance data for the 4 most productive wingers (goals and assists) from the 6 leading leagues in Europe (England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain – he is Portugese!).

Wingers With End Product

I reproduce the output here – again with thanks to Tiago Estêvão and please follow him on Twitter (@TiagoEstv):

Note that the data is for league matches only.

Reoccurring debates on the Celtic WebSphere include: Which Celtic winger is more effective? and Should we attempt to buy Roberts when his loan ends?

I provided a framework for answering these questions in Give Me Wings, earlier in the season and it is an article I constantly reference. Tiago’s analysis provides an opportunity to refresh and reanalyse using the framework provided above.

Unlike Tiago’s analysis I include ALL Celtic matches in 2016/17 – I could have filtered by League matches only but by including all the European and Cup matches there are more “big games” to make the data more equivalent to the matches encountered in the top 6 European leagues.

Celtic Wingers With End Product


Firstly, to acknowledge all 3 players do different jobs:

  • Sinclair play more centrally as a support striker, coming from the left onto his right foot. It is no surprise he leads on goals scored as this is part of his core responsibility.
  • Roberts is predominantly deployed as a right sided wide attacker and tends to stay wide, cutting in onto his left foot. He can play anywhere across the front including central striker. As I have noted before, I believe we missed a trick not deploying him as a “10” during Rogics’ absence.
  • Forrest is the more traditional winger of the three, playing from the right as a right sided player. He is more inclined to take defenders on the outside and try and hit the by line.

A few highlights to point out:

  • Roberts would be 5th in Goals & Assists per 90m and Sinclair 6th
  • Sinclair would be near the bottom for defensive contribution – expected for a dynamic fast player in his 29th year – see Ronaldo’s (non) defensive contributions
  • Roberts game has really come on regarding defensive contributions – now almost equal to Forrest
  • Roberts successful dribbles per 90m would put him 6th
  • Despite attempting more dribbles, Roberts is fouled the least – allied to the 2nd worst dispossessed stat suggests he still needs to a) make better decisions on when to dribble and b) strengthen his upper body.
  • Forrest would be 7th in being dispossessed – he is a more cautious player and takes less risks – see also that he has the highest passing % of the 3 Celts and would be 7th on the list
  • Roberts leads the Celtic stats by a distance with 1.21 chances created per 90m – there is not an equivalent stat on the Wingers list.
  • Sinclair would be 8th on the list for shots per 90m, whilst only 3 players have less shots per 90m than Roberts
  • Despite taking 72% of shots in the box, Sinclair’s shot accuracy of 38% would be 12th on the list
  • Only 6 players take a higher proportion of shots on the box than Sinclair
  • Despite taking 44% of shots outside the box, Roberts has scored from 5 out of 17, Sinclair 5 out of 34 and Forrest 7 out of 33.


I acknowledge this is a case of comparing apples with pears to some extent – but I believe the use of all Celtic games rather than just league games increase the overall “difficulty” of opposition and therefore makes the comparisons more valid.

Roberts remains a player of exceptional potential who is delivering when called upon NOW. Additionally, we are lucky to have Sinclair, whose role as a support striker largely frees him up from defensive responsibility. Forrest remains a “safe” choice being solid defensively, reliable in possession but with less productive output than the other two.

There is clearly room for all three in the squad and as I have said on Twitter Celtic should explore all options to keep Roberts.

PS That Messi fella is quite good!

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