Bristol Rovers currently sit in 13th position, 10 points off the play-offs in League One. They are new to the 3rd tier of English football after a successful campaign led to promotion in 2021-22, but as they sit in the middle of the pack, it would be fair to say that they seem to be struggling to adjust to a new league, being closer to relegation than promotion.
One player who seems to adjusted perfectly to life in League One is centre-forward Aaron Collins. Currently having the most combined goals and assists (24) in the entire English Football League (EFL), the 25-year-old Welshman is flying for Rovers. He leads the league in non-penalty goals at 14 and leads the league in assists at 10.
A Statistical Deep-Dive
Aaron Collins this season for Bristol Rovers has definitely improved on his numbers from last year. His goal tally is only 1 short in 15 fewer games, and it’s unlikely he will fail to surpass last seasons haul.
When you look at the reasons for this prolific form, you could simplify say he is now just taking more shots. Which he is, he is averaging 3.00 shots per90 this season compared to 2.51 last year. But when you see how much he is outscoring his xG of 7.64, it’s noticeable that he is being more clinical in more difficult situations.
He is hitting the target less from more shots, only hitting the target 36.5% of the time compared to 46.1% last campaign – likely due to the more difficult shots he is taking. But he is converting those shots on target at a better rate with 45% of the shots that are goal bound, finding the back of the net, whereas in 2021-22 it was lower at 39%.
So his shooting is improving, but he is now a much better facilitator for his team-mates than he was previously.
This season, he has had a 500% increase in his assists numbers. Last season he had a mediocre 2 assists in 45 games, still bagged 15 goals, but averaging only 0.06 assists per90 was an area that needed improvement. Fast-forward to the present day and it is clear Collins recognised this as well as he is now averaging 0.34 assist per 90 with a total of 10 assists.
He has also created 16 big chances for his team-mates this year which has tallied up an xA of 8.33. Also suggesting that his team-mates are making good on the chances their number 10 is generating, putting 10 of these chances in the back of the net.
@StatATM on Twitter broke down Aaron Collins’ number and how they compare to the rest of the league.
The Gas Head Playmaker
As well as being the finisher and the facilitator, he is also someone who passes the ‘eye-test’. Looking comfortable on the ball, beating his man, using both feet, as a technician the Welshman simply has it all. But at 25-years-old on the precipice of his prime years, it seems Collins is developing a great footballing brain – something that will take him to the highest level of the game. His ability and his IQ are invaluable for Bristol Rovers, and they will do well to keep hold of him this summer should the club fail to gain promotion.
He will also be hoping to get a call up for Wales having not played for the Dragons since 2015 at under 19 level.
All stats taken from FBRef.com.