The chances created statistic allows for much truer analysis of playmakers than assists.
Think about it, two wingers put identically inviting crosses into the six-yard box; one striker taps it home, the other scuffs it wide.
In our imaginary scenario, one winger has been rewarded with an assist while the other hasn’t, despite the fact their crosses were indistinguishable.
If this continued over the course of a season, these twin wingers could be separated by 15 assists and, as a result, their reputations would be worlds apart.
Assists are a good indicator of playmakers, but they depend on the finishing ability of another player.
Looking at our hypothetical wingers’ ‘big chances created’ would allow for a fairer comparison of their individual merits.
Why am I rambling like this?
Ryan Fraser, that’s why.
Only Eden Hazard provided more Premier League assists than the Loch Messi Monster this season.
The Belgian finished one ahead with 15 to Fraser’s 14.
However, Bournemouth’s No24 is out on his own when it comes to big chances created.
Fraser created 28 concrete goalscoring opportunities (high xG) for team-mates, ten more than second-placed Hazard.
So Fraser would have been the league’s best playmaker if all the league’s finishing was equal — does this theory check out?
In short, yes.
Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed more big chances than Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson in 2018/19.
However, Fraser and Wilson’s partnership was the most productive of the season.
The Scotsman assisted the Cherries’ No13 seven times, more than any other pair.
And Wilson repaid the favour with five assists for Fraser — only Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez’s partnership prevented the Bournemouth team-mates from taking gold and silver on the podium.
Fraser and Wilson combined so often that they were comfortably the best pair statistically, despite plenty of squandered chances.
Whereas Hazard’s style is full of nuanced complexities, Fraser is wonderfully uncomplicated.
His crossing is exceptional – from open play as well as set-pieces – and he probably doesn’t get enough credit for his passing in the final third.
He’s also excellent with both feet, an essential skill for the modern winger, one that is still undervalued by many.
With the utmost respect to Bournemouth, it is natural that a player who is statistically the best in his field would be linked to one of the ‘top six’ teams.
Arsenal are said to be the most likely destination if the 25-year-old decides to progress his career.
Some Gunners fans have expressed their dismay at such a prospect; the suggestion being that the signing would be underwhelming.
I can’t help but feel these people prefer the romanticism of transfers rather than the effectiveness of them.
If Fraser was a 5ft 10in Brazilian coated in tattoos named Frazinho they’d probably be a lot more excited about his possible arrival.
To their credit, many Arsenal fans have also expressed their approval of the rumours, citing Fraser’s quality as the primary reason fans should be enthusiastic.
If Fraser’s team-mates had converted his big chances at the same rate as Hazard’s, he would have provided approximately 23 assists, enough to break Thierry Henry’s Premier League record.
Most acknowledged Fraser’s impressive season but this deep dive made me realise I had underrated his campaign — he was better good, he was bloody brilliant.
Arsenal, Man United and Spurs could all do a lot worse than the flying Scotsman this summer.