Data that shows Leandro Trossard is one of the Premier League’s most lethal finishers

Leandro Trossard's ability to find the back of the net may be the difference in the tightest of title races

Leandro Trossard has scored all manner of goals in his 15 months as an Arsenal player, from back-post tap-ins to precise curlers, but he has never scored one quite like his opener against Wolves on Saturday night.

Was it a scuff? A slice? A total mishit? Whatever you want to call it, there can be no way that Trossard intended to strike the ball as he did, seemingly with the outside edge of his toes, sending it wafting — almost in slow-motion — into the top corner of the net. “It was not maybe the sweetest,” he later admitted.

An unusual goal, then, and a moment made all the more unusual because Trossard’s technique in the final third is normally so clean. The Belgian is not a guaranteed starter under Mikel Arteta, and is not the most skilful or quick forward at Arsenal, but he is without doubt the club’s best finisher. In the frenzied heat of the penalty area, Trossard usually stays cool.

Every title-chasing team needs a player like Trossard, who can turn half-chances into goals with some regularity. The 29-year-old also has a knack for scoring at important moments, such as in Arsenal’s Champions League knockout match against Porto and against Wolves this weekend, when his exhausted side were in desperate need of a lift.

In all competitions this season, Trossard is averaging a goal every 136 minutes for Arsenal. That is, by some distance, the best ratio of any player in Mikel Arteta’s squad (second is Bukayo Saka, with a goal every 196 minutes. Excluding penalties, Saka falls to a goal every 271 minutes).

No Arsenal player has better shooting accuracy than Trossard’s 57 per cent, and his shot conversion rate (24 per cent) is the best in the squad. He is, quite simply, the most clinical player that Arsenal have got.

Across the Premier League, Trossard is up there as one of the most decisive players in the final third. Prior to Sunday’s matches, only seven players in the division had scored at a faster rate in all competitions this season, and three of those (Liverpool’s Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah, and Brighton’s Joao Pedro) have played in the Europa League, rather than the Champions League.

A measure of Trossard’s ability to put the ball in the net is that his goals-per-minute ratio in all competitions is almost identical to Chelsea’s Cole Palmer, who is the joint-top scorer in the Premier League and is given the responsibility of taking penalties for his side. All of Trossard’s goals, by contrast, have come from open play.

Trossard has it all: timing, technique and two-footedness

Excluding penalties, only three players in the division have scored at a faster rate than Trossard this season: Jota, Erling Haaland and Nottingham Forest’s Chris Wood.

What makes Trossard such an impressive finisher? He has a combination of three crucial qualities: timing, technique and two-footedness.

Trossard is capable of arriving at the right moment to convert a cross from close range, as he did when earning Arsenal a draw at Stamford Bridge earlier this season. Of his 15 goals for Arsenal, three have been first-time finishes from inside the six-yard box.

He also has exceptional close control, which allows him to create space for himself in the tightest of situations. Against West Ham United, he scored after artfully shifting the ball away from a defender inside the area, and then lashing his finish into the top corner.

He did the same against Crystal Palace, when he sent Nathaniel Clyne spinning into the turf before scoring with power. At the moment the ball hit the net, poor Clyne was still on the ground, wondering were Trossard had gone.

‘He is a little magician – is just a joy to have him in the team’

Few players in the division are as capable of hurting an opponent with both feet. A third of Trossard’s Arsenal goals have been scored with his left foot and, including his time at Brighton, 37 per cent of all his goals in the Premier League have been scored with his weaker side.

“He is a little magician,” said Arteta after victory at Wolves, which returned Arsenal to the top of the Premier League table. “He is a big threat: so composed, so cool. He can play in different positions. It is just a joy to have him in the team.”

It is well-known that Arsenal moved to buy Trossard last January after their attempt to sign Mykhailo Mudryk had been hijacked by Chelsea, their opponents on Tuesday. Since then, Trossard has scored 15 goals and registered 12 assists in 63 games for Arsenal. Mudryk has just six goals and four assists in 52 games for Chelsea.

In other teams and other systems, Trossard would be the sort of player that a manager would build his attack around. At Arsenal, this will probably never be the case. He does not have the pace of Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, or the physicality of Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz.

He is certainly valuable, though, and it will not have gone unnoticed by Arteta that Trossard has continued to deliver in recent weeks while the rest of Arsenal’s forwards have struggled to make an impact. Trossard has scored four goals in his last eight appearances, which is as many as Saka, Martinelli, Havertz and Jesus combined in their last eight games.

Trossard is not the best dribbler, or the fastest runner. He is not the most powerful, either. But, for this title-chasing Arsenal team, he is the most deadly. With five games remaining, that could yet make him the most important player of all.