Power Rankings: Anthony Stokes keeps his place at the top of the pile

Last week Anthony Stokes showed just what a turnaround he has made to his season by topping the Power Rankings. This week he's cemented that reputation by holding on to his position at the summit.

He's had some pretty fierce competition throughout, as the Top Ten of the Power Rankings seem to indicate not only the players who are in form, but which teams are holding their nerve at the business end of the season.

While Stokes holds on to the top spot, the SPL's Mr Consistency is Iain Vigurs. He's only been out of the Top Ten for two weeks in the entire 23 week run that we've been doing these rankings, and will no-doubt be challenging for the Player of the Season title in our number-crunching.

Top Ten

1) Anthony Stokes (Celtic) - 7.7
2) Iain Vigurs (Ross County) - 7.1
3) Rowan Vine (St Johnstone) - 6.6
4) Kris Commons (Celtic) - 6.6
5) Leigh Griffiths (Hibernian) - 6.1
6) Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) - 6.1
7) Joe Ledley (Celtic) - 5.9
8) Ivan Sproule (Ross County) - 5.7
9) Johnny Russell (Dundee United)
10) Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United)

Player of the week

Current SPL matches are anything but regular, and as we've mentioned before, some teams are getting two games per week, which makes for some interesting scores (and not always in a positive sense!). While two games in one week means that each player has two chances to impress, and potentially score heavily, one sub-par performance can often take the shine, and indeed the points, off from a good one.

This week's Player of the Week is someone who had two matches in one week and was consistent in both. Motherwell's Michael Higdon scored 2.25 this week, getting 1.35 against Hearts and 0.9 against Celtic. His nearest rival was actually a defender, Hibernian's Ryan McGivern, who scored 1.77.

Team of the Week

First, for the usual disclaimer. This isn't a team of the week based on our own observations. It's the team of the week based on the ten most effective attacking players of the week, according to our stats, shoehorned into a rough formation.

DF - Jim McAlister (Dundee) - 1.1
DF - Lee Mair (St Mirren) - 1.1
DF - Lewis Toshney (Dundee) - 1.4
DF - Ryan McGivern (Hibernian) - 1.77
MD - Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) - 1.37
MD - Nicky Law (Motherwell) - 1.65
MD - Graham Carey (St Mirren) - 1.5
FW - James Forrest (Celtic) - 1.6
FW - Michael Higdon (Motherwell) - 2.25
FW - Georgios Samaras (Celtic) - 1.6

What about my team?

Aberdeen

As has been a feature of recent weeks, Aberdeen haven't been scoring goals, and so haven't been featuring in the Power Rankings. Niall McGinn, who has been Aberdeen's only real goal threat in recent weeks, is down in 22nd place (2.8), and only Josh Magennis (46th - 1.8) is in the top 50.

What is particularly interesting is that it isn't Aberdeen's failure to create chances that has hurt them, it is their failure to convert these chances. Aberdeen have averaged 5.3 shots on target during the last ten matches, a score comparable with Motherwell (5.6) and significantly higher than Dundee United (4.1). Finishing has been the problem.

Celtic

It seems a truism, but the key factors to all of Celtic's defeats this season have been their inability to convert their chances, particularly when taking so many shots. Against Motherwell Celtic put five of their ten shots on goal on target. Previous defeats have seen similarly high numbers - 41% in the defeat to St Johnstone from 11 shots, 27% from 11 shots against Inverness CT.

Far more positive news is the number of different goal threats they are now producing. Anthony Stokes, Kris Commons and Joe Ledley are in the top ten, James Forrest (13th - 4.0), Efe Ambrose (28th - 2.3) and Adam Matthews (30th - 2.2) are part of the top thirty. Earlier in the season it was the likes of Gary Hooper, Georgios Samaras and Charlie Mulgrew who were providing the main attacking potency.

Dundee

There has been some positive news for Dundee in the last week. While the appointment of John Brown was met with a mixed reception, the club have certainly shown in their recent performances that they've got a little bit more grit than was on display in previous months.

There hasn't been much movement in the overall Power Rankings from Dundee players, but a number of individuals turned in excellent performances in the draw with St Johnstone. Jim McAlister and Lewis Toshney became the first players to break into the Team of the Week after particularly fine showings.

Dundee United

Jackie McNamara has obviously made an impact on the way Dundee United play, and the urgency with which they attack, but they need to keep up their ruthlessness in front of goal, particularly as they are creating plenty of chances. In their last two matches they have had 19 attempts on goal, with only six finding the target.

Taking only two points from a possible six is not especially useful in their top six chase. However, United have arguably the most straightforward run-in, and if they show anything like the clinical finishing that was on display in McNamara's early matches, they'll certainly finish on the right side of the split.

Hearts

Every week we mention that Hearts don't score enough goals, and every week it is the same story. Against Motherwell Hearts had 21 attempts on goal, a number that can only be bettered by Celtic's 5-0 win against Dundee in the last five matches. Michael Ngoo (18th - 2.9) remains the only player in the top 25, with Jamie Walker (27th - 2.3) just inside the top 30.

Hibernian

Having been all the way down in the low 80s a few weeks ago, Leigh Griffiths has bounced back to take 5th place in the Power Rankings this week.

As we've touched on before, Hibernian are a little over-reliant on the forward - he's the only Hibernian player in the top 50 - but it's easy to see why, as the forward has averaged 1.04 points per week since we started counting them.

Only Anthony Stokes and Billy McKay can better that figure (1.1 and 1.06), but the former has played far less games.

Inverness CT

There was a period around Christmas that Inverness players made up the majority of the top ten, with Billy McKay, Andrew Shinnie, Richie Foran and Aaron Doran all having been part of the elite group for a period of months.

Caley Thistle have found goals slightly harder to come by in recent weeks, having gone until December 29 without failing to score Terry Butcher's side have failed to find the net in three of their last four matches. Aaron Doran is the leading assist provider in the whole SPL, and is the highest ranking Inverness player in the Power Rankings (12th, 4.1).

Kilmarnock

Paul Heffernan, William Gros and Borja Perez remain the biggest threats from Kilmarnock, with the latter two sitting just outside the top 20. A key feature of Killie's recent fortunes has been the kind of ruthlessness in front of goal that some of their rivals (Aberdeen, Hibernian, Dundee United) haven't had.

In the last ten games Killie have averaged 61% shot accuracy, a level only exceeded by Ross County. Keeping tight defensively may be a different matter, but going forward Kilmarnock have been one of the more ruthless operators. Adding Kris Boyd to this equation will not harm their chances.

Motherwell

Michael Higdon was again showing his value, picking up the Player of the Week, judging by the statistics. However, Motherwell do need to start sharing their goals around a little bit more.

Nicky Law (31st, 2.2) is the next highest ranking player. Onto McFadden watch, and the former Everton forward has clearly made his presence felt already. Despite playing only two matches, he is 35th in the rankings. Within the five match period we measure, you wouldn't bet against him breaking into the upper echelons.

Ross County

Derek Adams' side are the most accurate shooters in the division over the last ten games, averaging 64% shot accuracy. In that same ten game period they have gone unbeaten, and it shows. In the ten games prior their accuracy was only averaging 48%.

Although Ivan Sproule and Richard Brittain deserve special mention for the way in which they have performed in recent weeks, Rocco Quinn and Gary Glen are sitting just outside the top 20 (21st and 24th respectively). Iain Vigurs has been a pillar of consistency throughout, and takes his place in the top two for the first time this season.

St Johnstone

St Johnstone have looked relatively solid in their recent matches, and have found their most regular goal-threat of the season in Rowan Vine. His place in the top three has been richly deserved by virtue of three goals in his last five matches. Patrick Cregg (14th place, 3.8) isn't too far behind the top ten positions either.

St Mirren

A place in the top six of the SPL looks a long shot, but St Mirren turned in a good performance against Hearts last week, with both Graham Carey and Lee Mair doing enough to earn a place in the Team of the Week.

Despite this positive, there still isn't a consistent enough goal threat. Esmael Goncalves is the top-scoring St Mirren man, but he has just 2.1 points and sits 37th. Paul McGowan and Steven Thompson sneak into the top 50.

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