The in-form forward netted two goals despite an xG of just 0.21 on Monday - will he add to his tally and strike gold against the USA?
This article was originally published on 25 November 2022
Bukayo Saka is 10/3 to add to his World Cup tally at the Al Bayt Stadium on Friday night, and if the clinical edge he displayed in the 6-2 triumph over Iran is anything to go by, you have to say that price carries huge appeal.
The talented Arsenal attacker produced a sublime display as the Three Lions’ opened up their campaign with a statement victory over Carlos Queiroz’s men – notching six goals in a game for a second successive Finals, having dispatched of Panama 6-1 four years earlier.
Saka, who missed the decisive spot kick in England’s heart-breaking Euro 2020 final penalty shootout defeat to Italy, opened his account with a stunning half volley to double his side’s advantage after the equally as impressive Jude Bellingham had cracked Iran’s door ajar with a superb header.
The creative Londoner was at it again in the second period too, weaving his way past three Iranian defenders, before curling a deliciously delicate strike beyond substitute stopper Hossein Hosseini to net a second goal that he, in truth, had no right to score.
In total, Saka hit the target on three occasions throughout the encounter, registering two goals from an xG total of 0.21 – an expected goals return that is significantly smaller than the cluster of other players who have netted a brace at this winter’s tournament to date.
Olivier Giroud (1.66 xG), Enner Valencia (1.17 xG), Ferran Torres (1.13 xG), Mehdi Taremi (1.07 xG) and Richarlison (1.04 xG) are the other five players to have scored more than one goal in Qatar, and as you can see, all boast a far greater xG than the 21-year-old Englishman.
It maybe shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise though, with Saka statistically over-performing at domestic level for the Gunners too. His four-goal Premier League return is offset against an xG of 3.38 – whilst the six assists he has registered is far in excess of an expected return (xA) of 2.54.
In a nutshell, the data suggests that if Saka is able to replicate his same prowess in front of goal against the USA on Friday night, then if an opportunity comes his way, he is far more likely than not to take it.
Back Saka ‘To Score at Any Time’ at 10/3, whilst he is available in the ‘First Goalscorer’ market, priced up at 17/2.
He is 28/1 to follow up his eye-catching display on Monday with his second double of the tournament.
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The term xG in football is an abbreviation which stands for 'expected goals', and is a measurement of the quality of goalscoring chances and the likelihood of them being scored.
An xG measurement can be generated for either individual players or both teams, and provides a statistical indication as to how well they should be performing in front of goal.
With statistical analysis becoming an increasingly important aspect of football, clubs have been utilising measurements such as xG to assess their players’ performance levels.
It has also become a common point of discussion in sports media, with supporters also beginning to engage with the concept.
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