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Patrik Schick Scouting Report: An Answer To Arsenal’s Striker Issues

patrik-schick-player-analysis

Sometime soon, Arsenal are going to find themselves trying to solve an issue with their striker position. The situation with defrocked Captain, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang looks beyond repair. Youngster Eddie Nketiah whilst getting minutes, is likely to look for a home away from the Emirates and consummate professional Alexandre Lacazette is probably at the point in his career where he may be less likely to stick around for continued rebuilding.

As we football fans are prone to do, especially if you are an Arsenal fan, we should assume the worst-case scenario and plan for a situation that sees all three leave. That would leave Arsenal having to promote Falorun Balogun and move Gabriel Martinelli central AND still be short a proven goal scorer up top.

We’re all for giving the youngsters a chance. Why not, right? With the rise of Martinelli why shouldn’t we trust the youngsters to come in and do the job? Sure, if you’re willing to let them make mistakes and go through possible bouts of not finding the goal without the pressure that comes with that

Arsenal should by all means elevate these two players, but they should also try and find a solution out on the market. Find someone in the prime of their career (about 25-27) who can fit in to their overall style of play and do what strikers are needed to do, score goals.

As we head into January and beyond (until Arsenal solve this issue) we’ll profile players we think fit the bill for Arsenal. A lot will be based off of Adam Rae Voge’s outstanding list of Strikers he’s keeping tabs on via twitter

For our first profile, we look at Bayer Leverkusen striker, Patrik Schick.

patrik-schick-player-analysis

Patrik Schick is probably a name many of heard of but are yet not completely familiar with. Many will remember his name as it relates to his goal against Scotland in the Euros. He scores from just over the halfway line, when he one-touches a rolling ball over the head of the Scottish keeper.

Schick himself, says he was inspired to play football professionally at a young age after watching Wayne Rooney with Manchester United playing Sparta Prague. He grew up in the Prague academy and after a tumultuous time and a rollicking from club staff, he was loaned to Bohemians in hopes he would develop “fight” to his game.

Upon his return, Sparta offered him a new contract that he and his agent both felt wasn’t sufficient enough for them and ultimately led to a move to Sampdoria in 2016. The move wasn’t a great one for him as he was stuck vying for playing time behind Quagliarella and Muriel. Still, when did he manage to get playing time he scored 13 goals that season.

That led to increased interest from within Italy from some of the biggest names in Serie A. He eventually would leave Sampdoria for Roma (after failing a medical for Juventus) for around 40 million Euros. His time in Rome would be considered an abject failure with Edin Dzeko  featuring as the starting striker and Schick shunted out to the wing in Roma’s 4-3-3.

This led to the Czech forward being loaned to Leipzig where he banged in 10 goals in 28 matches. Still Leipzig opted to not seek a permanent deal. Finally, in September 2020, Bayer Leverkusen signed him on a permanent deal and Schick hasn’t looked back.

General Profile

Watching Schick play it was hard not be impressed with his overall play. He’s fast, physical and relishes his central role, looking to operate in the gaps between the two center backs and full backs. He’s adept in the air and equally as strong scoring with his left foot (a shot reminiscent of Lukas Podolski.)

Coming in at around 6’3” he is deceptively fast and quite good with the ball at his feet especially in 1v1 duels. He links well with the midfield and isn’t afraid to play with his back to a center back.

If there are any weaknesses to his game its in that he needs to work on his defensive contributions and there are times when his touch can let him down, especially in passing situations (but not with the frequency of Pepe.)

Overall, he may be less glamorous than Dusan Vlahovic or Dominic Calvert-Lewin but he’s remarkably cheaper than the other two and still scoring on a similar level to Vlahovic.

Attacking Profile

Under first year manager Gerardo Seoane, Bayer Leverkusen have opted for 4-2-3-1, and in that set up he’s looked to take advantage of the strength of his wide players and the emergence of Florian Wirtz. Spearheading that attack is Patrik Schick.

At 6’3” with a lean but strong frame, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Schick operates as a traditional target man. That would be a disservice to the player as he is far more well-rounded than that.

With Arsenal trying to play a fluid style, the movement of the forwards is essential to pulling that off. A striker in this system must be able to pull off single or double movements (separation) to either become part of the link up play centrally or create space for others to run in to. One of the first things you notice about Schick is that despite his frame, he’s not just living by sitting up on the back line. He will, if needed drop into space and make himself available to receive the ball, and bounce it either to Wirtz or a wide player and then advance into space to become an option further up field

patrik-schick-player-analysis

Schick drops into the midfield to receive the ball. His movement allows him to create space behind and dish the ball off to multiple options before he goes to goal (courtesy WYSCOUT)

With any forward coming into the Premier League you do worry about the physical attributes of the player and that should be no concern for the Czech forward. He uses his body well working against center backs to give himself leverage to win aerial balls. He reads the flight well and will us his body size to either win the ball with his head or chest down trying to distribute to the oncoming midfielders.

patrik-schick-player-analysis

Schick is a big strong forward, who isn’t afraid of being physical up front. (courtesy WYSCOUT)

Another thing we saw in his overall play is that he has speed that you wouldn’t necessarily equate to a player of his size and stature. While its not the pace of a winger, if he is able to get behind a defender, he can create separation and drive towards goal.

patrik-schick-player-analysis

Schick uses his speed to get behind the defenders in this counter attack. He then has the intelligence to find the space between the two defenders and arrive to volley in the cross. (images courtesy WYSCOUT)

Again, thinking of how Arsenal like to play they also want forwards who can run on to passes in from behind and Schick is as good as any we’ve seen. He really excels playing off the blindside of a center back. Time and time again he lines up slightly off the shoulder of the center back in the gap between them and the fullback.

He will either let play flow in front of him, drifting off of the defenders and finding space to make himself available in or he will use subtle movement to break off the defender and run on to a through ball sent into space.

patrik-schick-player-analysis

As play develops, Schick starts to drift off the shoulder of the nearest defender. He intentionally lets play move in front of him as he drifts into space behind the nearest defender. This frees him up to latch on to a cross wit his head and score. Moves like this are typical for the Czech forward (Images courtesy of WYSCOUT)

In 1v1 situations he’s just as adept taking on a defender with the ball at his feet. He’s not overly complicated – you won’t see him try multiple stepovers. He keeps it very simple, usually just a  drop of the shoulder or slight push off with the outside of the foot or a cryuff-like turn. Again, its not something you expect to see from a player of his size but he does have good close control ball skills.

Finally, in the most important measurement of a striker his goal scoring is completely out of this world right now. He’s started 14 games for Leverkusen and he’s got 16 goals. 1 of those is a penalty the rest are a variety of either headers or shots – all primarily within the 18

Defensive Play

As you’d expect with a striker there isn’t much film available on defensive actions. In fact in the entire WYSCOUT library, outside of full matches they do not have any clips of his defensive work.

What we do know is that if he is called on to make a tackle or try and win the ball, he typically doesn’t get off his feet. He opts mostly to be patient and deny space, looking for the right moment to win the ball. If the situation warrants a little more physicality with the defensive play he also uses that to his advantage.

Statistically Speaking

We looked a few data sets and Scott Willis (@oh_that_crab) of Crab stats has allowed us to publish some. In terms of his xG performance, he is clearly outperforming an xG of 9.5 with his 16 goals off of 44 shots (19 on target). He is averaging xG/Shot of 0.216. This seems unlikely to be sustained through the season but when you look at previous years data, he has consistently outperformed his xG and usually lands slightly above or at his projected number.

patrik-schick-player-analysis

Shotmap courtesy Scott Willis @oh_that_crab)

Some might have a concern with his pressures, especially as Arsenal expect their forwards to engage the press deep in the opposition end. This season he’s averaging 8.19 pressures per 90 and pressure regains of 2.19. However, that could be more a function of Leverkusen’s tactics rather than the player. When you look at the data for him from his loan spell (a more press oriented team) at Leipzig it shows an effective presser (15.93 pressures per 90 and Pressure regains of 2.49 per 90)

patrik-schick-player-analysis

courtesy Scott Willis @oh_that_crab)

patrik-schick-player-analysis

courtesy Scott Willis @oh_that_crab)

He combines his scoring prowess with an efficent passing game especially over short distance.

Overall, the data supports his effectiveness as a forward with significant strengths that could benefit Arsenal especially as the youngsters continue to mature.

Conclusion

Edu and Arteta have shown themselves adept at looking outside the box everyone wants or expects them to look in. Conventional wisdom says go for a proven premier name like DCL or the big name everyone wants in Vlahovic. However, both names are going to come at a significant investment and while KSE has shown its desire to finance important deals, this feels like a good deal for Arsenal should they open the door to it.

Schick has found his place and has grown in stature since his move to Leverkusen. While his contract has some time to go on it, he does fit the profile of an all-around forward that has attributes of both Aubameyang and Lacazette. In the end we think he makes a smart choice and would be an absolute beast in this set up.

 

 

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