Both broadcast and print media suggest Sinclair is off form and is failing to reach the heights of last season. In 2016/17 he won three trophies with Celtic and the following personal awards:
- Celtic FC Supporters’ Player of the Year: 2016–17
- Celtic FC Players’ Player of the Year: 2016–17
- PFA Scotland Players’ Player of the Year: 2016–17
- SFWA Footballer of the Year: 2016–17
- PFA Scotland Team of the Year (Premiership): 2016–17
For sure that is a tough act to follow. Here at Celtic By Numbers our mission statement is to dig behind such sweeping generalities, whilst worshipping no sacred cows.
I compare Sinclair’s current season to date* with 2016/17 season data up to the 13th December clash with Dundee inclusive.
There are a lot of data points mentioned below. Consult the Glossary if unsure.
*Note on the 2017/18 data – I am behind in capturing the match data so these numbers do not include the League Cup Final, the 5-1 Motherwell game and last night’s 3-1 win over Hamilton Academical.
Note that where there is “NA” against the data, it means that this element was not captured in previous seasons.
The good news is we have seem more of him. Sinclair missed the first 4 games of last season as he wasn’t at the club and 5 games in November and December 2016 due to a hamstring injury. Consequently, he has played around 3 games more than this stage last season (plus the missing data noted above).
For completeness here is his Defensive Data.
His is involved in less challenges overall, and his success in defensive actions is down 6%. Sack him.
Ok, more relevant data. He is completing more passes per 90m, and significantly more accurately (+5%). Whilst it is good that an attacker completes 86% of their passes, low pass completion for a creative player can indicate risk taking – i.e. attempting difficult passes, which is a good thing. So we need to take a balanced view of this stat and I observe Sinclair playing “safer” passes on occasion.
Sinclair has dramatically improved his Possession Effectiveness Index (PEI) from 68% to 81%. I changed the way this is calculated for this season so I suspect that explains most of the difference. But the increase in pass accuracy will have a bearing. He is in possession less this season by 7 events per 90m. He is both winning and losing possession less often than last season.
Sinclair has less assists than last season, by 0.09 per 90m. As you can see I have a load more information about chance creation that in previous years. Surprisingly Sinclair ranks 9th in the squad on assist rate (Griffiths leads on 0.46). Playing as an advanced forward, Sinclair’s pass pack rating will not be high (majority of players will not be in front of him to bypass). His Pass Impect is higher than Forrest but lower than both Hayes and Roberts.
The Englishman is primarily a goal threat with creative duties shared around the other attacking midfielders to a greater extent. 25 goals last season and already 12 non penalty goals this (excluding the 3 games aforementioned). His scoring rate has improved, now averaging 0.53 goals per 90m, better than one every two games. Only Dembele (0.72), who scored 32 times last season, has a better scoring rate. He is also landing more shots on target. Furthermore, his shot selection has improved with more shots within the box and less outside.
Sinclair’s Minutes Per Scoring Contribution is almost identical to the same period last season (a goal / assist every 119 minutes this season and per 118 minutes last). He is generating a Scoring Contribution every 54 possessions compared to every 62 at the same stage in 2016/17.
His CAT Score (10.030), an aggregated view of attacking threat, is second in the squad only to Dembele (10.034). After the Hamilton Academical game he may be the squad leader.
In summary, notions of a major decline in Sinclair’s form are ludicrous. Expectations are undoubtedly raised after last season. Also, opponents are wiser to his danger and we have seen man to man marking on Tierney and Sinclair down the left.-St. Johnstone did this quite effectively, for example.
But the data clearly shows he is maintaining the form shown in his first 6 months at the club. And that form was good enough for 5 personal awards by seasons end.
Carry on Slumping Scott!