Dundalk picked up an impressive victory over league leaders Shamrock Rovers last Friday, closing the gap at the top of the League of Ireland Premier Division.
The 1-0 win brings Dundalk within five points of Shamrock with a game less as the 2022 Championship campaign passes the halfway mark.
One of the keys to the Lilywhites’ impressive season so far has been the form of Scotland winger Steven Bradley on loan from Hibernian.
Signed by Hibs in 2019 following the expiration of his youth contract at Queen’s Park, Bradley, 20, is enjoying a fine loan spell at Oriel Park following a productive loan spell with Ayr United in the Scottish Premiership in the first part of the 2021/22 season.
Bradley, who also spent time at the Rangers academy in his youth career, started his latest loan spell in sensational form by scoring four goals in his first three games to win the Premier League’s Player of the Month award. league of the season.
Playing in a right/attacking midfield position in Dundalk’s favorite 4-2-3-1 or wide right in their 4-1-4-1 on some occasions, Bradley has accumulated 1,174 league minutes at the time of writing.
In this data analysis, we’ll take a detailed look at Bradley’s numbers from his time in Ireland until now, using stats to assess whether he could be ready to make an impact on Hibs’ first team soon.
We’ll start with several scatter charts to give a first look at Bradley’s performance in the League of Ireland so far this season. We will then use a percentile rank pizza chart to evaluate Bradley’s data in more depth.
The dataset used for both the initial scatter charts and then for the pizza chart includes players who have played at least 700 minutes, primarily as a wide midfielder or winger, in the League of Ireland this season. All data for this analysis is taken from Wyscout.
Tableau is used to create the scatter charts, with Python used to convert numbers by 90 to percentile ranks for the pizza chart.
First, we’ll look at a scatter chart for goals. As mentioned, Bradley started his loan spell with flying colors in terms of goalscoring, scoring four goals in his first three. He hasn’t been able to add to his tally since then and has one current goal without penalty per 90 count. 0.31. Overall he outperformed on his xG by 90 which is 0.16 by 90.
Here we can see how Bradley performed in terms of assists. According to Wyscout, Bradley has recorded one assist so far this season, although other sources have given one more assist. This gives him a 90 assist number of 0.08. However, he might well have had a few more assists as his xA number is higher at 0.15 by 90.
Looking at his shooting numbers in the next scatter, we can see that Bradley wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger, averaging 2.42 shots per 90. His on-target stat isn’t among the best in the league for players in his position, but his percentage (45.2%) is still above average.
The next scatter shows his crossover performance so far this season. Here we can see that Bradley has not been among the most frequent crossers with below average numbers (2.18) compared to their league counterparts. His accuracy percentage when he crossed was just above average at 28.6%.
For dribbling, Bradley shows up in the upper right quarter of the scatter scoring above average for both. He tried 6.16 dribbles per 90 so far this season with a 57.0% success rate.
To gauge Bradley’s performance on the ball, we can look at two specific passing metrics to show us how dangerous he has been in possession. The two we’ve chosen to look at here are key passes, passes that immediately create a clear goalscoring opportunity for a team-mate, and passes to the penalty area.
Bradley has above-average numbers by 90 for both assists compared to his league counterparts with 0.5 key passes by 90 and 2.8 passes to the penalty area by 90.
The final dispersion that we will examine compares defensive duels won, interceptions % and PAdj. This will give an idea of how hard Bradley works for the team when out of possession.
Bradley also has above-average numbers for a wide midfielder/winger in the league so far this season, winning 64.9% of his defensive duels and completing an average of 5.2 PAdj interceptions by 90.
Looking at Bradley’s percentile ranks in the pizza chart, we can see an overall picture of his performance so far this season.
Taking the offensive section first, we see that he ranks very well for goal contributions, as seen earlier. Although, as also mentioned, most of those contributions came early in his loan spell. Goal contributions and expected goal contributions are similar ranks, this reflects the outperformance on xG and the higher xA rate compared to his assists.
We can also see his high volume of shots come to fruition with a reasonable ranking for his target percentage. As we’ve also seen, it’s about average for crossover, both for volume and accuracy. He is also slightly more active in the box than his counterparts with an above average score for touches in the box.
When it comes to possession, we can expect them to be relatively high as Dundalk are one of the most dominant teams in the league, averaging 53.6% possession per game. However, Bradley’s numbers are still impressive, especially progressive passing as he produced an above average number of dangerous passes (a combination of key passes and through passes) compared to his league counterparts. .
He also ranks well for dribbling, with a very high completion rate rating and progressive runs that suggest he is one of the league’s best running backs in his area of the pitch.
Defensively, we can again see that Bradley has done his part the other way around. In terms of defensive duel volume, he ranks about average for the number he is involved with but is well above the average of his peers for his defensive duel winning percentage. It also ranks above 75e percentile rank for his number of PAdj interceptions.
Overall, Bradley’s percentile pizza chart shows a broad, rounded midfielder/winger profile and suggests a player who is more dangerous to come onto the pitch to attack the box, shoot or play in a teammate, more than getting wide and crossing. It also highlights, compared to his league counterparts anyway, that he also works hard on the ball.
Despite not being able to maintain his sensational form early on, Bradley’s underlying numbers show he’s still performing well, making a telling contribution at the top of the park, as well as contributing to possession.
It’s hard to say whether this current level of performance would make him part of the Easter Road squad, especially with the current squad as a whole following the appointment of former Bristol City and Sunderland manager Lee. Johnson.
Hibs have the option of recalling Bradley early next month, but it would probably make more sense for him to stay at Dundalk until the end of the season to continue his development.
If he can continue to impress more and find a little more consistency, he could well find his way into Lee Johnson’s thinking by the end of the year.