Sagar Sajeev asked me on Twitter what the stats said regarding Ashique Kuruniyan and, in general, the wide men of the Indian national team. So here goes...
Ashique had a good season for FC Pune City. His minutes were restricted due to injuries and senior players ahead of him but he has shown enough, in my opinion, to ask for a regular starting place at the ISL semi-finalists next season. When given a go, Ashique has shown a willingness to get in the box and provide runs going forward - pulling defenders out of place and creating space for some of Pune's better players to get going. A potential weakness is that he doesn't look as comfortable in the central areas and under pressure but that could just be inexperience.
In his 622 Indian Super League minutes, the Kerala born winger registered 1 goal from 8 shots and 1 assist from 6 chances created. That puts his Chances Created per 90 minutes at 0.86 and Shots per 90 at 1.15. That's a good sign and shows that he gets involved in the game. Young players, especially wide players, can tend to go hiding but Ashique has shown good consistency.
Quick look at his Expected Goals and Expected Assists from last season,
Those are good Expected Assists numbers, similar to Diego, the Brazilian who starts ahead of Ashique. What is worrying is that even Halicharan Narzary is more likely to score a goal. The Pune City youngster will definitely need to improve that side of his game.
From a national team perspective, it's a disgrace that Nandha and Chhangte are not in the squad. Can we please organize some sort of protest? They've outperformed all the other contenders for a spot on the plane to the Asia Cup.
I've not even included the likes of Mandar and Brandon here but they've outperformed the NT squad members too.
When it comes to chance creation, Udanta is the elite player in the country. His numbers are up there with Marcelinho and given that he plays with Miku and Chettri, I can't say I'm surprised. He has locked his spot on the right for the Asia Cup and the others are competing for a spot on the left.
Ashique has comfortably outclassed Diego. The Brazilian has excellent dribbling ability but there is no use if you cannot get your head up and find a pass at the end of the run. Ashique has shown that he has the ability and next year, with a fit Alfaro, these numbers should go up significantly.
An area for improvement for the youngster, and potentially the skill that could take him to the next level is his shooting. There is a lot to be learnt from watching Sunil Chettri cut inside and shoot and I hope Ashique takes his chance to watch the master up close when he joins up with the national squad.
As I mentioned above, one reason for his poor shooting numbers could be his lack of composure. Any time that a defender comes close to him, Ashique tends to panic and shabbily passes the ball backwards or gives it away. Teaching him to hold his ground or using his body to shield the ball could be a start, but, we need to see more from the left footed winger.
A promising sign is that he does get into some excellent positions. In the Super Cup, he played as part of a fluid front 3 with Marcelinho and Diego and got many good chances. He missed those chances but for a young player that is acceptable. As long as he gets in those positions again, goals will come.
Ashique has outperformed Diego when it comes to end product. Granted, the Brazilian played twice as many minutes but Ashqiue's solitary goal and assist have made his numbers look better. As I have shown above, Ashique has better underlying numbers at creation than Diego but not at finishing and shooting.
I think Ashique is ready to make his breakout, but, next season. He's still too raw and needs more time to mature as a player. For the national team as well, there are a few other options that are slightly ahead of him in the curve. Ashique needs to double down and work on his composure and finishing before he can start challenging for a starting spot.
Not sure what expected goals is how it's calculated? I got you covered.
Got suggestions? Want to see me profile another player? Hit me up on Twitter @sgtsaltnpeppa