Many expected The Championship this season to be a very tight battle at the top between the relegated teams last season in Fulham, Bournemouth and Sheffield United as well as West Bromwich Albion who boasted an impressive squad bankrolled by parachute payments.
However, this universal prediction has been shattered by the form of a Fulham side led by Aleksander Mitrovic.
The 27-year-old Serbian striker has already broken the record number of goals in a Championship season, surpassing Ivan Toney’s 31 netted last season in Brentford’s promotion campaign. He currently sits on 35 goals in just 34 games whilst also chipping in with 7 assists as Fulham are 12 points clear of second placed Bournemouth. These astronomical goal contributions are also backed up by league leading underlying numbers that magnify the nature of Mitrovic’s sensational season.
According to Dataviz, Mitrovic’s XG is sitting at 0.88 per 90 which leads the league. Comparing this to players in the top five leagues, only Robert Lewandowski (1.24) boasts a better XGp90 with Mohamed Salah (0.79), Lautaro Martinez (0.87) and Karem Benzema (0.72) all averaging less. Whilst these players play in more difficult leagues, it paints a picture as to the scoring dominance of Mitrovic this season in comparison to other player strikers having career years.
He also averages 4.5 shots per game, 0.9 more than second placed Dominic Solanke in the Championship. Once again, he stacks up well against world class attackers in the top five leagues in SPG. Lewandowski (5) again is the only player to better Mitrovic in this category, with Salah (4.3), Kylian Mbappe (4) and Erling Haaland (3.9) all behind him.
It isn’t just his scoring which is contributing to Fulham’s incredible offensive output, as he has chipped in with 7 assists, ranking him 11th in the league and 3rd amongst strikers. Though he is over-performing his expected assists, which according to Infogol is 3.98 and he is ranked 76th in the Championship for key passes p90 which points to his assists coming more from his forward positioning than passing interplay and ability.
Mitrovic’s sensational output has catapulted Fulham to the top of the league and well ahead of the chasing pack. They also boast more than double the goal difference of next best Bournemouth and have scored 90 goals in just 36 games, with second placed Bournemouth only scoring 55. Not only is this historic this season but in past championship seasons as well. Fulham’s 90 goals are only bettered by 2018-19 Norwich’s 93 goals scored across the season in terms of scoring seasons in the last 7 years.
Overall, Mitrovic’s ability to score at this level is unquestioned. In the one and a half seasons he has spent in the Championship previous to this season, he has scored 38 goals in just 58 games. Though when he moves to the next level, whether it be with Fulham in the Premier League or elsewhere, questions will be raised of his ability to perform at the level.
In his previous two seasons in the Premier League with Fulham he has scored just 14 goals in 64 games. He averages a goal every 113 minutes in the championship with Fulham in comparison to just one every 333 minutes in the top flight for Fulham, a massive drop off in overall offensive output.
It is highly likely that Fulham will go back to the Premier League next season, but whether Mitrovic will be apart of that team is still up in the air. It is unlikely that Fulham will be to keep a hold of young star Fabio Carvalho in the summer with Liverpool calling and Harry Wilson underwhelmed in his last spell in the Premier League with Bournemouth. Marco Silva could look to rejuvenate his front line as Fulham look to stay up next season third time lucky. Whether Mitrovic is given a third bite at the Premier League cherry in South London remains to be seen.
Overall, Mitrovic is enjoying one of the greatest Championship seasons ever and the statistics back up the on-field dominance. Whilst this dominance has rocketed Fulham to the promotion box seat, his position as the number 9 at Craven Cottage next season is not a foregone conclusion. Should Silva look to mix it up in attack next season, Mitrovic would have many suitors across Europe looking for a physically dominant striker with an unmatched goal record at this level.