The 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough indicated what had been apparent to many Stoke City fans, Benik Afobe is struggling to find the net, the Democratic Republic of Congo striker has only found the net four times in sixteen appearances. If Stoke City are to mount a successful promotion bid, they need Afobe firing on all cylinders.
A quick look at the stats and it is easy to see why Afobe has not been able to consistently find the back of the net, he only manages to have 1.6 shots a game, which is the lowest since his time at Bournemouth in the 17/18 season where he managed to have a miserly 0.5 shots a game. While having more shots doesn’t mean a forward will get more goals. the probability of a striker with more shots getting more goals is higher than a striker taking fewer shots. A good example would be Neal Maupay, the Brentford striker who is currently top scorer in the Championship with 11 goals in 14 appearances, he manages to take 3.3 shots a game which is a little more than the 1.6 shots a game Afobe takes. Reasons for Afobe failing to take more shots a game could be lack of movement and lack of understanding with teammates.
It’s not all Afobe’s fault for failing to get amongst the goals, Stoke City aren’t playing in an exactly fluid and attacking style of play. Afobe in Rowett’s mind is the man who able to hold the ball up and play it to the likes of Saido Berahino and if Stoke City are under enormous pressure in the defensive end, they could boot the ball for him to chase to relieve pressure. Afobe in recent games has been making plenty of runs in the channels, the problem is those runs aren’t leading to Afobe being in attacking positions.
A number of factors some in Afobe’s control and some tactical, are reasons for the lack of goals he has to show for his hard work this season. Stoke City fans will surely hope that changes.