Hearts are enjoying a remarkable run of form right now in the Scottish Premiership. They remain the only unbeaten side in the league after defeating Motherwell in their recent encounter. They are placed second in Premiership, one point behind the leaders Rangers. The Tynecastle side have grabbed eighteen points from their eight fixtures in the league, securing five wins and three draws along the way. Much of their brilliant form can be attributed to their man in-form and Scottish Premiership’s joint top scorer so far, Liam Boyce.
The Northern Irish striker is in his prime goal-scoring form right now. Last season he scored fifteen goals and added a further six assists in thirty-two appearances in all competitions. This season he has already grabbed thirteen goals in total seventeen appearances with six of those goals scored in the Scottish Premiership.
Last season Boyce was criticized for not being clinical enough, as he fell short of his xG. Although he has surpassed his xG figure multiple times in his previous seasons for Ross County and more recently for Burton Albion. Over the years his game has evolved and has become much more complete. He was thought initially to be a goal poacher by the Hearts fans. Although he does excel in that, he contributes a lot for his team in the build-up phases by making effective key passes. In addition to his goal-scoring exploits, he is also approaching fifty career assists.
Let’s analyse his stats in order to understand his strengths.
Liam Boyce was outstanding in the attack for Hearts in their recent Scottish Premiership encounter against Motherwell. Boyce chased after a through-ball from midfielder Baningime and got there before goalkeeper Liam Kelly, who tripped the Northern Irish forward and was awarded a penalty which he dispatched calmly into the back of the net. Boyce led the xG chart with an xG of 1.55. As indicated by the above chart, he was similarly impressive in other attacking metrics as well.
Boyce is much more than a goal poacher and ranks highly in terms of other attacking and creative metrics. His xG per 90, xG per shot and offensive duels per 90 deserve a special mention. He surpasses the median league value in most of the attacking metrics.
In addition to his wide array of passes in the opposition half, he also drops deep in his half during transitions. Boyce is adept in switching his position in the opposition half. His passes into the opposition box carry high xT.
For a striker, his work rate is impressive as indicated by his heat map. He is most active in the half-spaces in front of the opposition goal. His use of body and movement allows him to drag the defenders and create spaces for his teammates, allowing Hearts to transition quickly. In addition, he drops deep in his own half to support his defenders.
He leads the chart in terms of expected goals while his xG per 90 puts him in fifth spot in the Scottish Premiership.
The Tynecastle number ten is often the converging point for Hearts’ attacks. He utilises his movement and body effectively to keep defenders at bay while he gathers possession and looks for options allowing his teammates to find spaces in the opposition area, something that should prove even more effective considering the pace of Ginnelly, Mackay-Steven and Barrie MacKay. Hearts are set to pay a visit to the Ibrox for next weekend’s top of the table clash against Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. This fixture should prove to be Hearts’ biggest test till now in the league and Liam Boyce will definitely be counted upon to deliver.