Saturday’s game sees two of the most top heavy teams face each other, with Neal Maupay of Brentford and our very own Jon Dadi Bodvarsson first and third respectively in the league for the size of their contribution to their teams’ overall goal tallies. With Maupay scoring eight of Brentford’s 16 league goals this season, his 50% contribution is just above Bodvarsson’s rate of 42%; the Icelander netting five of Reading’s 12 Championship goals.
However, add in Sam Baldock and the two strikers have a combined contribution rate of 66.6%, which means no strike force in the Championship has scored a higher amount of their teams’ goals so far this season. Not bad considering most fans were writing off Reading’s attacking force just a few weeks ago.
So, is this the start of a beautiful partnership? How about Bod-Dock? (I’m so sorry). On the face of things, it certainly looks as if each player gets the best out of the other and, with them being very different attackers, it gives Reading a good variety of attacking options. Plus, because both players are tenacious and relentlessly hard-working, the side never feels imbalanced or light in defence as a result. But what do the stats say?
Of the eight goals that Baldock and Bodvarsson have scored for Reading this season, four have been scored whilst both are on the pitch, and the other four have been scored with just one of them playing. To break it down further, Baldock has scored twice without Bodvarsson and Bodvarsson has scored twice without Baldock, a split of 50%.
So, on the face of things, it doesn’t really seem as if there’s a particular benefit to Reading’s goal threat when they both play – as opposed to one of them leading the line by themselves. This makes it a little trickier to statistically prove how much each player depends on the other to score goals. Neither has assisted the other in any of their goals this season either, which means maybe they’re not so much of a partnership after all.
But dig a little deeper...
How much does Reading’s overall goal threat increase when they play together? There is a way to work this out.
This season, both players have been on the pitch at the same time for just 354 minutes, which is just under four games and less than half of Reading’s total league game time this season - 810 minutes. This means that there have been 456 league minutes where only one of Baldock or Bodvarsson have been playing, or just over five matches total.
Bearing in mind that Baldock and Bodvarsson have scored four times between them whilst playing together, and four times without, you can work out that Reading average one goal every 88.5 minutes they play together. That drops to just one goal every 114 minutes with just one of them on the pitch.
By looking at it this way, statistically speaking, both Baldock and Bodvarsson are more likely to score if they’re on the pitch at the same time. When you consider how crucial both have been to Reading’s overall scoring record this season, having more games where they are both included in the starting XI can only be a good thing for us.
This may all seem like a rather tenuous link, but the performances on the pitch of both strikers do noticeably improve when playing together, that’s clear to see for most fans. So let’s hope Clement keeps it that way for Saturday and starts to build the attack around what is already starting to become a blossoming partnership.