Ben Woodburn sent Liverpool a reminder of his quality after scoring his first goal for Hearts on Saturday. Woodburn scored his first goal since 2019 with a stunning brace in Hearts’ 5-2 victory over Dundee United but that was one of only two wins for Liverpool’s loanee. The Welshman played 82 minutes in a strong victory for Hearts, who sit third in the Scottish Premiership having only lost once so far this season – two points off Celtic and six behind leaders Rangers.
Throughout a surprising pre-season with the Reds, it looked like Woodburn could even find a spot as a utility man for Jurgen Klopp this term. But it was deemed more beneficial that the 22-year-old head out on another loan for the final year of his contract. It seems that his time on Merseyside is drawing to a close.
He is, then, effectively playing for his future at Hearts, and the versatile youngster has been given the game time to do so in Edinburgh so far. A drop in form in his seventh consecutive start against Dundee FC in October saw him reduced to a substitute’s role in the following two games, but he was back in the XI for the clash with Dundee United.
Wearing the number 9 shirt and operating on the wing, Woodburn marked his return to the side with a brilliant double, including an outstanding first-time strike. He has operated mostly on the left flank as a wide forward in a 3-4-3 formation that Hearts have been playing in. Woodburn prefers playing centrally but shifts inwards at times. He has also played on the right flank in some of the matches.
The above visual shows us the attacking and creativity stats for Ben Woodburn in this season. As we can see, most of his metrics are better than the average league value. He has attempted 2.33 shots on goal per 90 minutes and lies in the 86th percentile for the same. As he has been playing as a wide forward, he has also attempted more dribbles in each game and has an average of 4.96 dribbles per 90 minutes. He scored his first goal recently but has attempted 11.09 attacking actions per 90 minutes since the start of the season.
Woodburn has attempted a total of 16 shots on goal in the 10 matches he has featured in so far. From these 16 shots, he has only managed three shots on target and has not been very effective in front of the goal. If he gets a chance to play through the centre of the front three, he might have more attempts on target from better positions inside the penalty area. For now, most of his shots are from positions outside the box, which is why he has found it difficult to keep them on target.
The above visual shows us his pass map for the game against Dundee United. We can see that most of his passes are from the left flank as he was playing on the left wing and has tried to make short passes. Most of his passes into the final third had a high xT. Woodburn is still very young and fails to make the right pass at times when he is in threatening positions, but there have been signs of development for the young striker.
After becoming Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer in 2016, the winger has previously had mixed spells while out on loan but appears to be enjoying his time in Scotland. Woodburn’s performances at club level have also brought him back into international contention, making his first appearance for Wales in almost two-and-a-half years, back in September. The goals scored by Woodburn repays the faith shown in him by boss Robbie Neilson, who believes he could reach the very top level.