Sky Bet Championship: The main statistics behind Aleksandar Mitrovic's and Ollie Watkins' performances this season

The main statistics between Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ollie Watkins

The Sky Bet Championship play-off final sees Brentford meet Fulham and the division's two most prolific goalscorers on opposite sides of the pitch.

Aleksandar Mitrovic claimed the Golden Boot award in the regular season as his 26 goals meant that he led the way. That was one more than Brentford's Ollie Watkins could manage.

However, including play-off games, the two are now level following Watkins' strike in the Bees' second leg success over Swansea. The fitness of Mitrovic meant that he missed both games.

Those injury concerns remain and Fulham will make a late call as to whether Mitrovic will feature at all. He wasn't fit enough to even secure a spot on the bench for either game against Cardiff.

The neutral will be hoping that Mitrovic does play given his high number of goals throughout the campaign. Both sides possessing a prolific forward leading the line will add that little bit more to what is already an exciting contest.

Here, Tom Carnduff looks at the main statistics behind the two players.

The main statistics

Aleksandar Mitrovic's shot map for the 2019/20 season

Per 90 minutes stats - including the play-offs:

  • Goals: Mitrovic - 0.6 | Watkins - 0.5
  • Shots: Mitrovic - 3.19 | Watkins - 2.3
  • Touches in opposition box: Mitrovic - 3.86 | Watkins - 4.62
  • Dribbles completed: Mitrovic - 2.05 | Watkins - 2.18

Mitrovic's current position as the Sky Bet Championship's top goalscorer is aided by his high number of average shots per game. The 3.19 figure he currently stands on puts him fourth in the division in this category.

For Watkins, he only averages 2.3 shots per game but remained close to Mitrovic in the goalscoring charts during the regular season. His link-up play and the ability to work with Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo has proven crucial alongside the goals he has scored.

That is evident in the average number of touches he sees per game in the opposition box. The large majority of his shots come from inside the area and we would expect around 50% of his touches per game inside the area to be shots towards goal.

A point of interest is how Mitrovic attempts more dribbles per game but it's Watkins who sits with the higher number of average dribbles completed. The Fulham man sees 2.05 successful dribbles from 3.09 attempts; For Watkins it is 2.18 from 3.02.

Aleksandar Mitrovic's passes made network

That's partly down to the style of the system they operate in. Brentford have caught the eye with their free-flowing, attacking brand of football while Mitrovic bears some resemblance to a more traditional striker in which he holds on to the ball and looks to draw others into play.

That can be seen in his passes made network for the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season. The majority of his passes aim to find a player out wide to the left or one of Fulham's two central midfielders. For Watkins, his pattern is similar although the passes are shorter as they look to keep possession in the attacking half of the pitch.

Ollie Watkins in the Sky Bet Championship this season

Watkins' positioning also highlights how he is allowed to drift out wide to receive the ball. That's helped by his position on the wing with Neal Maupay the central striker last season, but it also demonstrates how Brentford's attacking trio are comfortable covering in the three roles in possession.

Mitrovic plays more central, although does have a tendency to drift out slightly to the left in possession. That goes hand-in-hand with his preference to pass to those on the left-side of the attack.

It's clear that both are important to the way their teams want to play. Watkins' involvement in the Golden Boot race is made more impressive by his switch in position; he would only manage ten goals in the league from the wing last season.

If Brentford are promoted to the Premier League then they won't have to search for a new striker - the same can be said for Fulham who had Mitrovic lead the line during their campaign in the top-flight.

You can guarantee that swapping the two wouldn't bring the same level of goals they have now. Watkins wouldn't necessarily have the right qualities to start for this Fulham team - physicality, hold-up play and an aerial presence - while Mitrovic would struggle with the ball at his feet and movement needed for Brentford.

Ollie Watkins' passing flow for the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season

The passing flow charts perhaps best represent that. Above, it can be seen how Watkins' passes are largely forward and come from the central areas, although there are some from the wide parts of the box. This highlights how he is more concerned with keeping the play moving forward and finding team mates in advanced positions.

Aleksandar Mitrovic's passing flow for the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season

For Mitrovic, his passing flow map is different. From his, we can see how crucial he is to the link-up play and drawing other attacking players into the move. While Watkins' arrows are mostly forward, Mitrovic's reflect how he is looking to find those behind or alongside him, as opposed to those in front.

It's not to say that Watkins wouldn't have the right attributes to operate in this Fulham side. However, it is clear just how important Mitrovic is to the way Scott Parker wants to play.

While both players have led the way in terms of goals scored this season, and while their goals are similar in being from close range, they have played contrasting roles in the build-up to attacks.

Ollie Watkins' passing distribution sonar when home and away

A point of interest that's related to the final is how Brentford approach it and what impact that will have on the role Watkins is expected to play - particularly when it comes to his distribution.

It's clear from Watkins' passing distribution sonars that there is a more positive attitude in home matches than away. The above reflects the post-lockdown period between June 20 and July 28.

The away sonar suggests a more conservative approach; drawing midfielders into the attack by acting more of a traditional striker in a form of a 'target man'. His priority is keeping possession for Brentford to build the attack as opposed to looking to hit defenders with pace.

At home, it's clear that they adopt a more positive attitude. Passes are made in a forward direction while he often looks to find Benrahma on the left more than Mbeumo on the right. Given Fulham's more attacking-based full-backs, we could expect his Wembley sonar to reflect the home one more than the away.

Statistics via Twenty3 Sport.

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