Is Jamie Vardy genuinely good?

It has been roundly noted recently that Jamie Vardy is currently the highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League (as well as the highest scorer in the Premier League full stop, but that, somehow, is a less tantalising narrative). What has also been noted, in some quarters, is an uncertainty over whether he is actually a legitimately good footballer.

He has currently scored 9 in 9 games, or 1.01 per 90 minutes. Two of these have been penalties, however, and so lend a hefty boost to his total (the reason why stats people use non-penalty goals per 90 minutes – NPGp90). Taking these out, his scoring rate goes down to a slightly less frightening 0.79 per 90. It also reduces his conversion rate from a clearly unsustainable 26% to a more manageable (though still likely to go down) 19%.

Based off his 24.9 90s last season and this reduced scoring rate, he is on course for another 12.6 (round it up or down to your choosing) goals, a season total of around 21. 20 goals in a Premier League season would suggest a genuinely good striker, although it’s a far cry from where he was in 2014-15, so which are we to believe?

His statistics so far this season are even better than his last in the Championship when he scored a respectable 16 in 32.17 90s. He is having about one and a half times the number of shots as that season, and nearly one and a half as many inside the box, which has led to an NPGp90 of… around one and a half as much, from 0.5 to 0.79.

The fact this his conversion levels are similar between those seasons is probably quite promising. Goalkeepers are notoriously difficult (maybe, at the moment, impossible) to assess through stats, with save percentage not really being repeatable at all from one season to the next. This is relevant because, were it easier to judge who was a good goalkeeper (by eye or by stat) it might be easier to say that the level of goalkeeping in the two leagues was different. As it is, the only significant logical difference between shot conversion in the Championship to the Premier League is the quality of the chances that the shots are coming from.

The number of shots that he is getting is very high. For Vardy to have an increase in shots from the Championship to the Premier League, while still being on the same team, seems extremely unlikely. It could be that his recent goal-scoring form is strongly linked to Leicester’s current good form; this theory supported by the fact that last season’s numbers were so low, as was the Foxes’ form, although it wouldn’t explain why his numbers are higher in the Premier League than the Championship.

From watching him briefly, he certainly doesn’t look bad, though how genuinely good he is becomes hard to tell due to the lack of time Leicester have the ball. He makes some good movements though, and the lower 0.79 NPGp90 is less ridiculous and more open to being considered than his otherwise goal per game rate. Is Vardy genuinely good then? Kinda, but not as good as his current total suggests. If I were a betting man, I might even look up the odds of him scoring fewer than 15 in the league this season.

By @EveryTeam_Mark

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