The surprise Portsmouth player ranked among League One's top attacking threats with Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town and Derby County favourites

He’s assumed a place as one of the most popular figures with Pompey fans among the current squad.
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That’s after a season in which Joe Rafferty has been one of his teams brightest performers, amid frustrating injury issues.

It may come as a surprise, however, to see data which highlights the Preston North End arrival at the head of League One’s most threatening attacking players.

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Twitter data scientist @_JKDS_ has compiled the information using Opta data, which showcases the right-back in the top three League One players for threat per 90 minutes through passes.

Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan perhaps unsurprisingly leads the way, but the next two names on the list may raise a few eyebrows with Port Vale’s David Worrall ahead of Rafferty.

Bannan’s expected threat (xT) per 90 of 0.377 is way ahead of the rest with Worrall (0.253) and Rafferty (0.252). Others featuring high on the list are Ipswich’s Lee Evans (fourth, 0.235), Derby’s Conor Hourihane (fifth, 0.229), Bolton’s Aaron Morley (seventh, 0.214) and Charlton’s Albie Morgan (10th, 0.207). Pompey defender Clark Robertson is a very impressive 11th in the division (0.207).

Looking through the prism of progressive passes, Rafferty moves to head of the field in an area which serves full-backs well. The right-back is in front of Evans, Bannan and Plymouth’s Macaulay Gillesphey.

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When breaking down the pitch into zones and applying the leading ‘threat creator’ to each area, Rafferty unsurprisingly features significantly down the right flank with Robertson on the left side of defence.

Joe Rafferty.Joe Rafferty.
Joe Rafferty.

It’s an eye-opener, however, to see Pompey ranked fourth overall in League One in terms of in-play threat creation, behind Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby.

Owen Dale is ranked 17th overall in League One for box entries per 90 minutes, which is defined as an in-play pass or carry which starts outside and finishes inside the penalty area. When pressing from the front, Dane Scarlett was ninth in League One.

Switching to expected threat through carries, wingers naturally come to the fore with Charlton’s Corey Blackett-Taylor top ahead of former Pompey target Ephron Mason-Clark and Charlton’s Jesurn Rak-Sakyi.