It would have come as a shock for Charlton Athletic fans when their top scorer this season, Lyle Taylor, announced that he would not return for the remainder of the EFL Championship 2019/20 season. The 30-year-old, sensing he was reaching the end of his peak, had made a bold decision to not return to play for the relegation-threatened Addicks this season in order to prevent the risk of an injury that could see him lose out on a transfer later this year. With a rumoured 12 clubs set to be out for the striker’s signature, in this tactical analysis we will not only have a scout report on Taylor but also see how he would fit into the tactics of four of his potential clubs by using tactical analysis.
We would be looking at how the striker would fit in according to the tactics of Premier League side Burnley, Championship side West Bromwich Albion, Scottish Premiership side Rangers and Turkish Süper Lig side Sivasspor. We will also have an analysis to compare Taylor to the strikers currently present in those clubs.
The first section of this tactical analysis will be the scout report.
A pacey forward with a good work rate, Taylor has been crucial for Charlton this season, bagging 11 goals in 22 games. In this scout report section, we will look into the striker’s tactics and find his most comfortable playing style.
A quick analysis of Taylor’s heat map above shows us some very interesting points about his tactics. Unlike an orthodox forward, he has often moved to occupy positions near the touchline as well, much like German forward Timo Werner at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. The forward has also shown the tendency to drop further down the pitch to possibly occupy half-spaces and interact with his midfield. Such deviations from his starting central position are a feature of Taylor’s tactics.
Charlton’s tactics this season have seen them use two strikers up-front regardless of their formation behind. With the 4-3-1-2 formation being their most frequently used, they have also switched to a 5-3-2 or a 4-4-2 over the course of the season.
The use of two strikers has definitely been a factor in Taylor’s tactics as he is allowed to move to wider positions while his fellow forward remains central. The fact that Charlton’s tactics see their midfielders play a very narrow structure has also meant that Taylor is left with a good amount of space when he moves wide and does not interfere much with any other player’s tactics.
We will see a few examples of this in the following section of our tactical analysis where we look at the forward’s in-game tactics.
Like any good forward, Taylor possesses the ability to dart into spaces in between the opposition defence. He likes to take on the defenders directly and make runs through them in order to receive the ball beyond the defence.
With his pace, Taylor can also afford to stay a few yards in front of the opposition back-line and still manage to run past them when the ball is played to him. This is especially useful for teams that play a high-line as the forward is able to find himself in loads of space once he runs through the gaps between the centre-backs.
As mentioned earlier, Taylor has been allowed the freedom to move to wider positions of the pitch as well. His movement to these areas closer to the touchline have seen a variety of chances open up for Charlton. The fact that there is another forward who stays central when Taylor moves wide means that almost always Taylor has at least one passing option in and around the penalty area.
In the top half of the above figure, we see that Taylor’s winger-like position has opened up at least three possibilities for the team. Following the orange dotted arrow, the forward can continue his run down the flank and move into a better crossing position. He can also dart towards goal following the black dotted arrow and create a chance for himself or play a pass to set-up his fellow striker as per the blue arrow. From this one movement, we can already see that a range of possibilities has opened up for the team.
The bottom half of the image shows us another variation when the forward moves to the right flank. In this position, Taylor is able to link up with hisunderlapping midfielder, as per the blue arrow, or to continue his run before putting in a cross to the attacker in the box. He can also hold the ball and wait for more support, a luxury that he would not have should he be positioned more centrally.
Apart from this, we can also see the striker drop back in order to engage his midfield and provide an extra passing option for them.
Taylor’s ability for slotting into half-spaces between the opposition midfield allows him to interact with his midfield. This also allows another midfielder to roam into his space further up and usually go unmarked. This type of movement provides a good passing option for the midfield that can play short and quick passes rather than just playing a hopeful long ball.
As can be seen from the image above, Taylor also forms a path for himself to turn and run towards goal. Such a quick change of pace and direction can catch defenders out of position and in a matter of seconds could cause an overload in the final third. Such play has been crucial to Charlton’s tactics in their pursuit for goals this season.
While we discuss Taylor’s capability to drop back and support the midfield, it should also be noted that Taylor is able to drop even further back to his own half as well.
From the image above we can see Taylor tracking the opposition attacker all the way to his team’s defensive third. His positioning down the flanks at times has meant that he has to drop back when possession is lost and he cannot simply abandon the winger-like role once his attacking duty ends. The forward has not had much trouble with this though, using his pace to get back to a defensive position and allow his teammates to get back as well.
Such a style of play is very useful when playing with a formation that sees two strikers playing up-front as a reluctance of both forwards to fall back could see the team outnumbered in their own half.
Now that we have seen a short scout report of Taylor, we will move onto an analysis of how he would fit into the four potential clubs leading the race for his signature. We will be talking about his statistics as well and see how he would align according to the tactics of the clubs.
Tactical analysis of Burnley
In this section, we will do an analysis of Burnley’s tactics and see the potential of Taylor in their system. Having done a short scout report earlier, we understand his style of play and are more capable of understanding his possible roles.
Much like Charlton, Burnley has also opted to play with two strikers this season. Their formation of 4-4-2 has been constant throughout the 2019/20 Premier League season. With the purchase of Matěj Vydra in January, they have already looked to strengthen their forward line. It can be seen that Sean Dyche has looked to bring in attackers that are good on the ball and capable of dribbling. This would serve as a good contrast to other attackers like Chris Wood or Ashley Barnes who are good in the air.
An attacker capable of moving out wide will also allow the current wingers such as Dwight McNeil to cut in more often and cause problems for the opposition defence. Burnley could also have an attacker capable of interacting with the midfield and link up the midfield to attack. Taylor’s capability of dropping forward could bring a defender out of position and allow his fellow striker to receive a good long ball near the box.
We will now compare Taylor to the present strikers at Burnley.
The above graph shows the expected goals/90 and the goals scored/90 for each of the players. The size of their marking is according to the number of minutes that they have played. Immediately we see that Taylor has the most goals per 90 (0.56), ranking highest out of the others.
Wood has the same number of goals this season but ranks lower having played more minutes than Taylor. Recent signing Vydra has performed very well since joining, having the highest xG/90 (0.68) and goals/90 (0.49) among the current forward line. This is an impressive statistic considering that he has played only 367 minutes since joining the Clarets.
Coming to their assists, we once again see Vydra much higher than the others averaging about 0.25 assists/90 and outperforming his xA/90 of 0.07. The more traditional centre-forwards in Wood and Barnes have not performed that well in this area, with Barnes having no assists to show and Wood averaging only 0.04 assists/90. Taylor matches his xA/90 of 0.05 exactly with his 0.05 assists/90 this season. Though it is not a large number, his performance is better than most of the present Burnley attack.
An analysis of their shooting this season once again sees Vydra top the list. In this graph, however, the size of the markings have been allotted to the goal conversion percentage of each player. Hence, while Vydra ranks highest with 2.45 shots/90, out of which 70% have been on target, his goal conversion rate of 20% is less than Taylor’s. While the Charlton forward has only the fourth highest shots/90, he has the second-highest shot on target percentage (51.16%) and the highest goal conversion rate of 25.5%.
Taylor has proven to be more clinical in front of goal compared to the other strikers on the list and this could be a reason why Dyche is keen on signing him.
The last part of this comparison will look at the crosses/90. Taylor’s 2.36 crosses/90 is much more than any of the current Burnley forwards. We can infer that the current tactics do not require the forwards to play many crosses but rather be on the receiving end of these balls. However, it would be interesting to see if this new style of play would allow Taylor’s fellow attacker to perform better as well.
We see that Taylor would indeed be a good signing for the Clarets but we should also note that he does entirely align with the tactics that they have adopted so far. Dyche has used more traditional centre-forwards over the past few years but seems to be moving towards forwards that are good on the ball as well.
The signing of Vydra has seemed to reap benefits already but this has meant Burnley already have five players for the same position. Wood and Vydra are the youngest of those at 28 and the signing of a 30-year-old forward would mean that their attack would comprise of players possibly reaching the end of their peak. Should Burnley seal the signing of Taylor on a free, it could possibly be at the cost of one of their present forwards.
Tactical analysis of West Brom
Another club that is looking to sign Taylor is Championship side, West Brom. The Baggies sit second in the EFL Championship and are poised to seal promotion back into the Premier League. In this section of the analysis, we will see how Taylor would fit into coach Slaven Bilić’s tactics.
West Brom has played majorly with a 4-1-4-1 formation over the course of the season. Wales international Hal Robson-Kanu has been the focal point of their attack playing in 31 games for the Baggies this season. Ex-Southampton player Charlie Austin also features as part of their attacking line-up on occasion, having done so 26 times this season.
While it would be difficult for a forward like Taylor to play as a lone striker, we must also remember that Robson-Kanu himself started out as a winger but has managed to adapt to this new position. Bilić must be looking to capitalise on Taylor’s impressive shooting record and either shuffle his tactics or try to fit the Charlton forward into the current system.
We will now move on to an analysis of the current strikers at West Brom and see how they compare to Taylor. It should be noted that we have also included Jonathan Leko in our analysis although he has spent this season on loan as Taylor’s teammate at Charlton.
Once again, the size of the markings has been adjusted according to the minutes played this season. Although Taylor has the most goals among the group, it is Austin that features highly in the statistic. With an xG/90 of 0.79 and goals/90 value of 0.59, he tops the chart even though he has seemingly underperformed this season.
Taylor ranks second followed by summer signing Kenneth Zohorè in terms of xG/90. Zohorè signed from Cardiff City in the summer but has featured in only 15 matches for the Baggies, playing a total of 679 minutes. However, he has somewhat matched his xG/90 value of 0.44 having scored about 0.4 goals/90 this season.
It is interesting to find starting striker Robson-Kanu feature lower on the list although his goals/90 value of 0.42 is higher than his 0.34 xG/90. Although he has performed reasonably well this season, the forward has not matched the level of Taylor or Austin as well. Behind him is the youngest forward on the list, Leko. The 21-year-old has played 1618 minutes this season and has 0.28 goals/90, exceeding his xG/90 of 0.13. Though these values are lower, he has also been used on the wing at times this season and definitely shows some promise.
In the assists section, we see Leko featuring highest, averaging 0.11 assists/90 which is slightly higher than is xA/90 of 0.1. Robson-Kanu and Zohorè both have a xA/90 of 0.07 but the latter has severely underperformed and is yet to register an assist this season. The former, on the other hand, has 0.08 assists/90, slightly higher than is xA/90 value.
Taylor’s low assist statistic is seen once again, with only Austin having a lower xA/90 of 0.04. However, the latter has 0.08 assists/90 this season meaning that he has fared better than the Charlton striker.
When looking at the shooting, we see that Austin has attempted the most shots per 90 with 3.1 shots/90. However, only 45.2% of those shots are on target and 19% of them end up as goals, leaving the second-lowest in both fields. Zohorè has the highest shots on target percentage with 56.25%. He has also attempted significantly lesser shots per 90 with 2.12 shots/90 and has a goal conversion rate of 18.75%.
Taylor (2.2 shots/90, 51.2% shots on target and 25.6% goal conversion rate) ranks higher than both Robson-Kanu (2.09 shots/90, 46% shots on target and 20% goal conversion rate) and Leko (1.11 shots/90, 45% shots on target and 25% conversion rate) as well. Leko’s conversion rate nearly matches that of Taylor and this could be an interesting point to note for Bilić.
Once again we see that Taylor has delivered the most crosses compared to any of the other forwards. Leko is the closest to the Charlton striker having made 1.89 crosses/90, however, he has played as a winger as well. It is also interesting to note that Robson-Kanu has played about 1.17 crosses/90 this season, indicating that there is a scope for crossing in the team’s tactics.
Looking at all these comparisons, there is no doubt why the Baggies are interesting in signing Taylor as he does improve their squad overall. However, Austin and Robson-Kanu are both aged 30 and signing Taylor would see an ageing frontline attack. Due to this, Leko could potentially be called back and used in the squad as well. Taylor would also have to alter his tactics to suit the style of play and it would be interesting to see how good the transfer could be.
Tactical analysis of Rangers
Liverpool club legend Steven Gerrard has done a good job managing Rangers and they currently sit second on the table. However, they are a distant 13 points behind Celtic in the first place and although having conceded the same number of goals, Gerrard’s team have scored 25 fewer than their rivals. It is this gap that Gerrard is looking to bridge by signing Taylor.
The Light Blues have often lined up with a 4-3-2-1 formation this season but have also switched to either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 as well. The narrow shape of a 4-3-2-1 means that there may not be much activity on the wing and most of the play would be directed through the centre.
However, the remaining two formations do have a winger position already and this would mean the forward remaining central. Once again we see that Taylor would probably have to fit the current tactics of Rangers and would probably not be able to move much out wide.
In dropping deep, however, he could open up the possibility of playing a false nine and allow the wingers to cut inwards during their attack.
Now we will compare Taylor to the strikers currently present at Rangers.
The experienced Jermain Defoe ranks highest in terms of goals/90, having 1.1 goals/90 and exceeding his 0.66 xG/90. The striker was on loan from Premier League side AFC Bournemouth but has since made his move permanent and will stay beyond the end of his loan contract. Although he has played the least minutes among the group of strikers, he has scored the most goals, with 13 to his name.
Colombian forward Alfredo Morelos has the highest xG/90 of 0.75 but has underperformed, having scored 0.63 goals/90 this season. Taylor seems to rank a fair bit behind these two, with only Florian Kamberi (0.22 goals/90 and 0.3 xG/90), on loan from Scottish Premiership club Hibernian, ranking behind him.
Taylor does not rank highly in terms of assists either, with the lowest assists/90. Only Morelos is as low as Taylor in this field with his 0.05 assists/90 much lower than his 0.11 xA/90. It is Kamberi, that tops the list with his 0.11 assists/90, though this is well below his xA/90 of 0.20. The 37-year-old Defoe has also seemingly underperformed with his 0.08 assists/90 falling short of his xA/90 of 0.11.
It is in the shooting that Taylor starts to shine with his impressive accuracy. Having had the fewest shots/90, the Charlton striker has the highest shot on target percentage and the second-best goal conversion rate as well. Defoe (3.31 shots/90 and 41.03% shots on target) has the highest goal conversion rate of 33.3%.
Kamberi and Morelos have much lower shooting statistics with goal conversion rates of 11.11% and 8.5% respectively. While both do have a decent shot on target percentage, Morelos has taken the most shots/90 with 5.63 shots/90 and we can infer that he has been a bit wasteful in front of goal.
The Rangers forwards seem to be more adept at playing crosses though, having a higher average than the teams before. Taylor still ranks highest though, followed by Kamberi with 1.57 crosses/90 and Morelos with 1.51 crosses/90. Defoe ranks lowest with only 0.68 crosses/90 but at his age, it is understandable to see him occupy a more central role.
Morelos (aged 23) and Kamberi (aged 25) are still young and Gerrard could look to tie down the latter to a permanent deal in light of his good performances. However, with Defoe edging closer to retirement, the signing of Taylor could be good in order to bolster the attacking line-up. Taylor’s tactics do not seem to be directly in line with that of the ones used by Rangers and should this signing go through, it would be interesting to see how he adapts to their system.
Tactical analysis of Sivasspor
Turkish side Sivasspor currently occupy the third spot in the Süper Lig, four points off first place. While they have been good defensively, their goal scoring form has been a worry this season. Coach Rıza Çalımbay has hence decided to look for a striker and Taylor has emerged as a top target.
Sivasspor currently plays a 4-2-3-1 formation leaving a lone striker upfront. However, such a formation encourages wingers to be more attacking and sees their wingers cut in towards goal as well. The lone striker upfront could play a free role and occupy various positions across the final third as well.
The Turkish side has had only two main strikers this season, Mustapha Yatabaré and Arouna Koné. We will be comparing Taylor to both these strikers in the following sections of our analysis.
Yatabaré has played the most minutes this season and has exceeded his xG/90 of 0.31 with 0.42 goals/90 this season. However, he is the lowest on this list. Koné has seemingly had a better scoring record with 0.51 goals/90, surpassing his xG/90 of 0.41. However, the two of them fall behind Taylor who, as we have seen, boasts an impressive scoring record this season.
However, once again we can see that the Charlton striker ranks lowest in terms of assists. Koné tops the list with his 0.51 assists/90, much higher than his xA/90 of 0.22. The ex-Everton man has seemingly performed well in this field although having played fewer minutes than the other two.
Yatabaré has also outperformed his xA/90 value of 0.09 with his 0.11 assists/90 this season. Though it is not as impressive as his teammate, it shows that he has been performing at a good level through this season. Taylor, although matching his xA/90 value, remains low in this field.
In terms of shooting, we see that all three of them have relatively similar stats. However, Taylor is still the standout having higher shots/90 and shot on target percentage than the other two. Both Yatabaré and Koné have a shot on target percentage of 47.06% but it is the former that has been better having taken 1.95 shots/90 as compared to the latter’s 2.16 shots/90.
The three have them have similar goal conversion rate though Taylor’s remains the highest. Yatabaré has a conversion rate of 21.5% while Koné has a slightly better rate of 23.5%.
Taylor once again remains unmatched in terms of the crossing. The 30-year-old has been delivered the most crosses across all the teams in this analysis and only Yatabaré comes close here with 1.49 crosses/90. Koné is far behind having made only 0.38 crosses/90. He has mostly played as a target man for the Turkish side whereas Yatabaré has played in more of a free role, allowing him to move wider and deliver more crosses.
It is interesting to note that should Sivasspor is the first team in our analysis who could be signing a striker younger than their current attack. Koné (aged 36) and Yatabaré (aged 34) form a very ageing forward line for Sivasspor and Çalımbay would be looking to inject new life with the signing of Taylor.
The pacey forward would definitely offer a more dynamic style of play and could contribute to the Turkish side’s goal-scoring threat.
In this tactical analysis, we have seen not only a scout report on Taylor but also how he could fit in at his potential clubs. We have compared him to the strikers present at his future clubs and have understood why these clubs are interested in signing him. It should be said though, that out of these four teams, Burnley and Sivasspor appear to be the better suited for Taylor. The forward has indicated that he does want a good salary at this stage of his career and a move to Turkey will certainly see him have a significant raise in pay.
He would also probably receive a good amount of game time considering his impressive form this season and is also younger than the present strikers at Sivasspor. A move to Burnley, however, may see the forward flourish under tactics that are well suited to his playing style. With the Clarets playing with two forwards, Taylor would be allowed to play similarly to his style at Charlton and he has already performed well in such a role.
Playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues is also an incentive with Burnley having established themselves as a good mid-table side capable of pushing for European competitions as well. It remains to be seen where Taylor does end up but if he does move to any of these four teams, especially Burnley and Sivasspor, we can expect strong performances from him next season as well.