The last time Jonathan David scored for Lille, we were in the midst of a hectic holiday season for a variety of reasons.
That was Dec. 22, right as Ligue 1 paused for the holidays. David scored the winner in a 3-2 comeback victory over Bordeaux for his 16th goal of the season in all competitions.
His start to 2022 was delayed due to a COVID-19 infection, though he eventually returned for the 1-1 draw with Marseille.
But since returning from COVID isolation, David's dry spell has surpassed 700 minutes. Blanks against Chelsea in the first leg of Lille's round-of-16 matchup in the Champions League and versus Lyon in Sunday's league clash has made it eight games overall since his last tally. The Canadian striker hasn't experienced a run of futility like this since he first arrived to the club in 2020, when nearly 900 minutes passed before his first-ever goal for Les Dogues.
It's not like he hasn't been scoring at all, though. David registered two goals and an assist for the Canadian men's national team in its last three games a few weeks ago, playing a pivotal role in guiding Canada to within one game of qualifying for the World Cup.
Despite this drought, David has still scored 0.51 goals per 90 minutes across all competitions this season. His expected goals (xG) per 90 clocks in at 0.45. As stated in the previous roundup, if that level of chance accumulation continues, that should lead to a declined rate of scoring.
He's still executing the right runs, which was highlighted in the last roundup. That remained the case in the midweek defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League. The big issue was the Blues' defence being immense, especially Thiago Silva, who was excellent in containing the Canadian. When David dropped deeper to evade the back three, one of the defenders pushed up and immediately fouled him. It was that kind of match for the 22-year-old.
However, when examining the underlying numbers from before David's drought compared to this current barren spell, there is a noticeable trend.
The only real stark difference is the quality of chances, in both cumulative and individual states, which begs the question: how did this happen?
The obvious answer is David isn't receiving the ball in promising areas, and as quickly into open space, compared to the first four months of the season. That argument holds up when looking at various opportunities prior to Dec. 22.
That is the common denominator. When Lille plays vertically and incisively, particularly in transition or via counter-pressing, David almost always scores.
Obviously Lille won't be afforded that luxury in every game. Take the 2-0 loss to Chelsea, for example. There were moments when they attempted to do so, but couldn't penetrate that air-tight defence.
Regardless, that is the key to David regaining his previous scoring form. But it's also down to being more incisive around the box and cleaning up his touch, otherwise the tactics matter very little.
OTHER UPDATES AND ANALYSIS
• Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann provided an update on Alphonso Davies' status prior to the weekend.
"We have to wait for the results of the examination but I just saw him, he’s fine," said Nagelsmann. "That’s the problem with these cardiac issues, you don’t always feel what’s going on, so you need this cold, hard discipline to listen to your body. He's extremely professional, though, especially considering his age."
It's been nearly six weeks since Davies was diagnosed with mild myocarditis. Canada concludes World Cup qualifying from March 24-30.
• The Canadian women's national team concluded its Arnold Clark Cup campaign with a 1-0 loss to Spain after defeating Germany and drawing 1-1 with eventual champion England. It was a proper litmus test for the Olympic gold medallists as they prepare for the upcoming Concacaf W Championship and 2023 Women's World Cup.
The conclusion of the tournament led to a request for statistical radars for two relative newcomers to the program in Cloe Lacasse and Marie Levasseur, who ply their trades for Benfica and Fleury, respectively.
Lacasse, who has yet to score in five caps for Canada, is one of the most potent goal-scorers in Portugal with Benfica and has been for some time. Unfortunately, there's no underlying data available for the Portuguese league, but here's how she's fared in the Champions League this season.
Finally, Levasseur – who has become quite the left-back at Fleury in France's top flight – is starting to settle into her role overseas.
• Having returned from his bout with COVID-19, Tajon Buchanan was back in the lineup for Club Brugge. He had two decent scoring opportunities and helped create Brugge's third, en route to a resounding win over Antwerp on Sunday.
It's apparent that teams are marking Buchanan tightly since he's moved to Belgium and that was the case on Sunday again. Once the 22-year-old had an outlet or two to play off in the second half, he was more impactful but Antwerp's defence were up to the challenge, as you'll see in the clips below. Buchanan is No. 17 in blue and black.
• Over in France, Ike Ugbo started for Troyes in a massive 1-1 draw with Marseille on Sunday. Ugbo finished with one shot, a header via a set piece, in 60 minutes of action.
• It was a bizarre weekend for Stephen Eustaquio. The Canadian midfielder earned his first start for Porto in a 1-1 home draw with Gil Vicente on Sunday. However, with the visitors reduced to 10 men after just three minutes but remaining a constant threat, Porto coach Sergio Conceicao withdrew Eustaquio after 31 minutes in place of Galeno.
The decision was tactical in an effort to be more direct. It was a puzzling choice considering how many attack-minded players were on the pitch at the time, and was all the more baffling after Galeno was hauled off after 66 minutes.
Plus, Eustaquio was playing well. There were a couple of slip-ups but he was calmly orchestrating while Gil Vicente pressed Porto high up the pitch. He also slowed and increased the tempo when needed. Here are some highlights from No. 46.
• The ageless wonder, Atiba Hutchinson, started and finished the 90 minutes for Besiktas in its victory over Sivasspor. He completed 60 of his 62 passes, one key pass, won three of four defensive duels and logged nine recoveries.
Hutchinson may not possess his prime agility anymore, but he makes up for it with his cerebral play. Watch how he anticipates quickly and reacts incisively both on and off the ball.
• Meanwhile, Cyle Larin missed out on Besiktas' win as he recovers from injury. He could be back for the Turkish Cup quarterfinals in midweek.
• Sam Adekugbe is such a constant threat down the left wing for Hatayspor and is so solid at the back that there is almost no need to provide updates on Adekugbe's progress anymore. He started in the weekend victory over Yeni Malatyaspor and is about three games away from setting a career-high for minutes in a single season.
• Reading may have lost 4-1 to Blackpool but Junior Hoilett was a menace in his 79 minutes on Saturday. Playing in an inverted left-wing role, Hoilett delivered a couple of wonderful crosses that went to waste.
• Many have asked why Richie Laryea has yet to debut for Nottingham Forest. He's only made the matchday squad twice since joining the club in January, which concerns some fans given Laryea's importance to the national team.
Simply put, Laryea is a victim of unfortunate timing.
"The most obvious thing would be the circumstance," said Gabriel Sutton, host of #EFLDebate and expert on the English lower leagues. "Forest have retained their right wingback, Djed Spence, from Middlesbrough, for the second half of the season - Boro might have recalled him but for the form of Isaiah Jones. At left wingback, Max Lowe has returned from injury after two months out at a similar time to Laryea signing, and has not since missed a game."
Laryea should receive minutes at some stage now that he's had nearly two months to settle in, learn the system and gain chemistry with his teammates. But with promotion within reach, coach Steve Cooper will prioritize consistency and retain his in-form players as much as he can.
• Theo Corbeanu was ruled out of MK Dons' victory over Bolton on Saturday with an illness, though he started the midweek win at Charlton. Let's hope for a speedy recovery.
• The MLS season began on Saturday, though a few teams began their 2022 campaigns in the Concacaf Champions League earlier this month. One of those sides was the Colorado Rapids, with Mark-Anthony Kaye starting both legs of their round-of-16 clash with Guatemalan side Comunicaciones, who defeated Colorado on penalties last week.
To Kaye's credit, he was doing everything possible to help Colorado gain the aggregate advantage with several excellent passes into the penalty area.
A few days later, Kaye and the Rapids lost 3-0 to his former side LAFC in their MLS opener with the Canadian racking up 87 minutes in the defeat. There were still some bright moments for the 27-year-old, though.
• The last roundup discussed Scott Kennedy's improved distribution, which continued in Jahn Regensburg's 0-0 draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday. His average passing accuracy for the season now stands at 85.4 per cent from 79.4 per cent last year. That's not the only barometer, of course, but it underlines Kennedy's newfound comfort on the ball.
• Speaking of improved ball-playing defenders, Derek Cornelius helped Panetolikos keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Volos over the weekend. Cornelius' statistical radar can be viewed below, which demonstrates his well-rounded play this season.
• In Switzerland, Liam Millar and Basel suffered a 4-2 defeat to Zurich. On the bright side for Millar, he was at the centre of several promising sequences for his side. He generated two shots, completed three of four dribbles and remained active in the final third.
• Liam Fraser was back in the starting lineup for Deinze after he exited last weekend's match in the first half with an injury. He racked up 86 minutes in Saturday's victory over Royal Excelsior Virton.
• Milan Borjan only faced one shot on target as Red Star Belgrade shut out their fierce rivals Partizan Belgrade 2-0. It was a tame attempt in the end but take nothing away from Borjan for the reflex save.
• Staying in Serbia, 19-year-old Stefan Mitrovic produced a dominant display for Radnicki Nis in Friday's 1-1 draw with Novi Pazar. Mitrovic was constantly taking on defenders and despite some rough treatment, was able to conjure up four shots and a few quality assists. Unfortunately for the teenager, none came to pass.
You can view some snippets from the game below. Watch for No. 16 in red.
• He may have retired from international duty but Scott Arfield remains a regular starter for Rangers. He started the team's 2-2 second-leg draw with Borussia Dortmund as the Scottish champions advanced to the Europa League round of 16, where they'll face Borjan and Red Star. Arfield also logged 96 minutes in the subsequent league draw versus Motherwell on Sunday.
• Harry Paton has returned to Ross County's lineup on a consistent basis. He had 90 minutes in the team's 3-1 win over Theo Bair's St. Johnstone and showcased his ability to progress the ball as a box-to-box midfielder. Look for the No. 6 in navy blue.
• Apart from a late opportunity, Bair had a tepid 22 minutes off the bench in the loss to Ross County. Credit to him for attempting the overhead, though.
• Richie Ennin and Nizhny Novgorod returned to Russian Premier League action on Saturday after a long winter break. In 89 minutes, the Canadian forward had a couple of key passes and drew numerous fouls to help his side defeat Ural Yekaterinburg 1-0.
• Keep an eye on Juan Cordova at Huachipato in Chile. The right-back has started the season well, though he fits a similar mould to Zachary Brault-Guillard.
• Easton Ongaro earned his first start for UTA Arad, logging 69 minutes in its 2-0 win versus Academica Clinceni.
• A pair of young Canadian forwards are progressing decently in the second division in the Netherlands.
Simon Colyn, a member of Jong PSV, has been converted into a false nine. His attacking numbers are about average, though he's far more lethal as a creator.
Charles-Andreas Brym, meanwhile, has played across the frontline for FC Eindhoven but predominantly sticks to the right wing. He was called up to the national team in October and represented the U-23s at Olympic qualifying last March but left a lot to be desired.
Now, with regular minutes under his belt, the 23-year-old is more poised on the dribble and incisive with his decision-making. That's led to Brym becoming a bona fide scoring threat in the Dutch second tier.
• Finally, while we're on the subject of under-the-radar players, Frank Sturing has been starting regularly for SV Horn in the Austrian second division. The 24-year-old centre-back has two caps for Canada, both coming in 2021, plus he was named to the Gold Cup squad last summer.
While he is confident in possession, Sturing lacks some strength in one-on-one duels and can be overzealous when challenging opposing forwards. That is partially why he's more susceptible to errors when stepping up a level to the national team.