Stathursday: the foundations of the Westerlo title

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Every Thursday, we focus on fascinating statistics provided by our data partner StatsPerform in the 'Stathursday' column. This week, we zone in on the dominant champion in the 1B Pro League: KVC Westerlo. The person behind the Kempen success story is Lukas Van Eenoo.

After five years, KVC Westerlo has returned to the Jupiler Pro League. And nothing can be said against the promotion of coach Jonas De Roeck (42) and his team. Since matchday 3, the Kemphanen (ruffs) have led the league in 1B. A great start with the longest unbeaten run - 9 games, with 7 victories - put the wind in Westerlo’s sails early on in the season. With the finish line in sight, the engine faltered for a moment, but the gap between them and those behind was wide enough.

Defensively, KVC Westerlo is rock solid, with only 25 conceded goals - five less than vice-champion RWDM - and 10 clean sheets. The 'Pearl of the Kempen' played football like no other, taking the lead 15 times with 13 victories. This shows a certain maturity, although KVC Westerlo is far from the oldest team in 1B. The average age of De Roeck's core is 24 years and 314 days. Only the first teams of Lommel SK and R.E. Virton are 'younger'. 

Of the 44 goals that KVC Westerlo scored on 26 match days, very few came from a dead ball. No less than 36 goals were scored while playing (82 percent). Five goals were scored from the penalty spot, and three more came from a corner kick. KMSK Deinze (45) scored more, but no other team scored so many goals from 'open plays'. 

The Slovakian U23 international Jan Bernat (8 goals, 3 assists), the North Macedonian top scorer Erdon Daci (9 goals), the Danish goalkeeper David Jensen (10 clean sheets) and the Bruges talents Maxim De Cuyper and Thomas Van den Keybus caught our attention in 1B, but the absolute star at KVC Westerlo was Lukas Van Eenoo. The data provided by our partner StatsPerform also proves this.

The 31-year-old midfielder is De Roeck’s right-hand man on the pitch. Van Eenoo is invariably the first on the match sheet. What's more, he only missed 3 minutes at KVC Westerlo. Among the field players in 1B, only RWDM midfielder Nicolas Rommens accrued more playing time. And Van Eenoo used his time particularly well, with 4 goals and 6 assists as a result. Only 3 players (Rommens/9, Youssef Challouk/7, and Teddy Chevalier/7) made more decisive passes.

Van Eenoo is clearly the attacking hub of KVC Westerlo, because he created 67 chances on his own and gave 55 successful corners or crosses. In both statistics, once again, the former Cercle Brugge youth player has to give Nicolas Rommens the right of way. But Van Eenoo trumps the RWDM midfielder in accuracy. After all, more than 85 percent of his passes reached their target. Once again, this makes KVC Westerlo’s captain one of the best 1B league students. 

And although Van Eenoo mainly played a key role at the start, he finished very well too. StatsPerform's algorithm calculated that his chances should have resulted in only 1.77 goals. But Van Eenoo scored 4 between the posts. Because of this, he’s also one of the 10 most efficient players in 1B. Only three midfielders (Kevin Hoggas, Joachim Carcela and Gaetan Hendrickx) appeared to be more successful.

Van Eenoo is of course one of the older Kemphanen, but the younger ones also caught our eye this season. In the past, we put the spotlight on De Cuyper and Van den Keybus, but Westerlo’s former youth player Kyan Vaesen also made a full breakthrough. He created 8 big opportunities all by himself. In 1B, there were no more than three footballers who created more goals for teammates than the 20-year-old striker. 

Vaesen still has to work on his efficiency, though. He scored 4 times but should have done so at least 6 according to StatsPerform data. Something to work on, because only three 1B players were more extravagant with their chances according to the xG statistics. If Vaesen works on that, he could become a great addition to the Jupiler Pro League next season.

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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