Stathursday: Genk’s dangerous ‘Itonuachu’ combination


Every Thursday, we zoom in on some interesting statistics provided by our data partner StatsPerform in the 'Stathursday' section. This week, we take a closer look at the performances of in-form players Paul Onuachu and Junya Ito of KRC Genk. In the Cegeka Arena, European hopes rest mainly on their shoulders.

With two games to go against KAS Eupen and RFC Seraing and with their neighbours in Sint-Truiden in close pursuit, KRC Genk cannot afford any slip-ups. With last year's top scorer in their ranks and a pacy Japanese player on the flank, KRC Genk already have enough in their armoury to take on the Kanaries (Sint-Truiden or STVV's nickname). 

Ito has not missed a single game for the former miner's team this season and with 2,543 minutes is among the top 20 in the Jupiler Pro League based on minutes played. Genk, however, have had to play without their top Nigerian striker nine times already. Weirdly, StatsPerform's statistics show that KRC Genk's attacking play is better without Onuachu on the pitch. When the powerful striker leads the line, the Limburgers score an average of 1.7 goals per game, without him they average 2.2 goals per game. 

Attack is the best defence 

This is not reflected in the number of points won. Without Onuachu, KRC Genk averages 1.1 points. With him in the team that average rises to 1.5 points. The presence of the agile Nigerian also results in fewer goals conceded. Without Onuachu, goalkeeper Vandevoordt has had to fish the ball out of his net twice more on average. When the forward who was recruited in 2019 plays, the Limburgers only concede 1.3 goals. 

His presence allows KRC Genk to turn defence into attack more easily. Onuachu is able to keep the ball and shield it from opponents, giving his team mates time to move up the pitch. This allows the Limburgers to ease the pressure more easily. Everyone is given more time to take their position again, and if KRC Genk lose the ball, the spaces are more compact. Onuachu is an important organisational link for the Limburgers.

The fact that the Ito and Onuachu partnership is important to Genk is apparent from the number of goals. Both have contributed to 18 goals out of 59, good for an impact score of 30.5 percent each. Fun fact: Ito has already given seven assists to Onuachu. Unfortunately, not everything these two players touch turns to gold, because despite their contribution to the 18 goals, they've also hit the woodwork four times. 

Samurai with a velvet touch

Ito provides most assists and the data shows it. The statistics also show how he creates them. This tall winger has created most chances per game this season: 2.34. Only Stef Peeters (KAS Eupen/3.57) and Xavier Mercier (OH Leuven/2.86) do better at the moment. After Sergio Gomez (RSC Anderlecht/272), he also gave most crosses. With a total of 203 crosses, 45 of which were successful, he gave his team mates scoring chances. 

Despite Ito's high number of crosses, Onuachu doesn't score many headers. The 2.01-metre tall striker only headed home 4 of his 16 goals. Onuachu is a menace in the opponent's 18-yard box, where he has already been fouled three times. No other player in the Jupiler Pro League has had more fouls committed against him in the penalty area. 

Although he scores more often with his feet than with his head, Onuachu is still an aerial threat. Of The Siege Bull's 154 aerial duels, he has won 94, or 61%. Only four players (Gano/159, Hara/125, Ambrose/98 and Frey/95) have won more aerial duels. He averages 3.43 aerial duels per game, a figure many strikers would be envious of. Onuachu is also difficult to beat, winning an average of 5.59 duels per game. In the Belgian top flight, only five players have better stats.

If Genk wants to raise the European coefficient of Belgian teams next year, they will need their two attacking power houses up front. With STVV in form and Cercle Brugge also still in with a shout, the Cegeka Arena is awaiting some tense days if they want to book their ticket for the Europe Play-offs. 

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This article was created with the insights delivered by StatsPerform. Our exclusive partner collects the most diverse performance data from all the matches in the Jupiler Pro League and 1B Pro League. The agreement with StatsPerform has three goals: technical support for our clubs, better quality reporting on Eleven Sports and stronger communication.

Among other things, our clubs will be able to rely on live tracking data, so trainers can make adjustments based on data during the matches. As for the television and communications part of the partnership, the Pro League and Eleven focus on creating added value for fans. The official data from StatsPerform offers fans a unique insight into the performance of their favorite club or player.

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