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Niall McGinn: Opta stats reveal what Dundee are getting from winger

Dundee star Niall McGinn was adored by Aberdeen fans
Dundee star Niall McGinn was adored by Aberdeen fans

Niall McGinn’s 308th Scottish top-flight appearance will be in a Dundee shirt after the winger signed an 18-month deal at Dens Park.

It’s likely that will come at McDiarmid Park as the Dark Blues face a crunch bottom-of-the-table match against Tayside rivals St Johnstone.

Whenever his debut arrives, McGinn has been brought in to bolster Dundee’s bid to remain in the Premiership this season.

He has, though, only made one league start this season for Aberdeen, with eight further off the bench.

McGinn has an impressive CV and huge experience but, at the age of 34, what are the Dark Blues bringing in?

Let’s look at the stats.


McGinn’s only league start for the Dons this term came in a 2-1 victory at Livingston on August 8.

He has, though, been a regular off the bench and has helped Aberdeen to six victories this season, including Boxing Day against his new employers.

Across his career, he has found the net 10 times against Dundee, including a hat-trick in December 2012.

Niall McGinn scores against Dundee in 2017.
Niall McGinn scores against Dundee in 2017.

This season

McGinn’s time on the pitch this season has been severely limited, making comparisons tricky.

In total he has played just 193 minutes of league football in 2021/22.

Despite that limited game time, McGinn’s Opta stats see him compete with Dundee’s main wingers, Paul McMullan and Luke McCowan.

Those two have played much more this term, though, skewing the data somewhat.

But per 90 minutes played, McGinn has created more chances than McCowan and had more touches in the opposing box than either of Dundee’s widemen.

However, he hasn’t managed an assist or goal this season with Dundee’s pair contributing plenty on that front.

McGinn in 2020/21

Much more telling is a comparison of Niall McGinn last season, where he played 25 times, starting 12 games.

Dundee have struggled at times this term to find the back of the net. Aberdeen last season, meanwhile, found it even tougher to score goals.

Over a stretch of 10 matches, the Dons scored just once, leading to the departure of Derek McInnes as manager.

Niall McGinn in action for Aberdeen.
Niall McGinn in action for Aberdeen.

In a team struggling for goals, McGinn’s goal return and assist rate fell short of expectations.

But, in less minutes on the pitch, the new boy’s expected goals rate last season was actually higher than McCowan’s is this season.

Impressively Luke McCowan has almost doubled his expected goals rate this term. That means finishing only the chances he’s expected to score from.

By the stats, McCowan should have only one goal this season, instead he’s on four.

The most encouraging aspect of McGinn’s game over the past 18 months has been his chance creation.

Though he only managed one assist in that time, falling short of his expected assist rate, that can be put down to Aberdeen’s overall inability to finish chances.

McGinn did create 29 chances for Aberdeen last season, much more than McCowan’s 11 this season but below McMullan’s 34.

What are Dundee getting?

Goals may have dried up for the Northern Ireland international in recent seasons but creating chances and delivery from set-pieces has been a continuing theme for McGinn.

The addition of the experienced winger certainly gives manager James McPake another attacker to choose from.

Paul McMullan and Luke McCowan have been key men all campaign but now there is a third option.

Expect those three to change places throughout the second half of the season.

Dundee boss James McPake talks manager pressure as he prepares for ‘crucial’ clash with Callum Davidson’s St Johnstone

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