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Flaming Hot Chicksen Wings!


Adam Chicksen - (Notts County FC)
Adam Chicksen - (Notts County FC)

It’s becoming an all too familiar sight now, a ball being met at the back post by Adam Chicksen, but how has the 31 year old gone from a man who look bewildered in the final third under Burchnall to being Notts’ joint 2nd top scorer?


With 6 goals to his name in the league this season Chicksen has not only beaten his previous record for goals in a season, but also now scored more league goals in 1 season than he has in the rest of his career combined; Chicksen had only scored 4 previously, including a goal in the playoffs against Torquay. His goal scoring exploits are so impressive in fact that he now has more goals than Kabongo Tshimanga, the Chesterfield striker who almost made a £750,000 move to Birmingham City on Deadline Day. All of this from left wing back.

It’s important to note that this hot streak of scoring is no coincidence; Chicksen could arguably have more goals to his name this season, such are the positions he finds himself in. And that’s the crucial thing; positioning. Last season Chicksen played a much deeper role, at times playing at LCB, whereas this season he’s much further forward.


He might officially be a LWB, but he’s playing more like a wide forward, often finding himself in line with Langstaff. This attacking intent creates overloads in the wide areas, providing shooting opportunities for Chicksen, ones he’s taken due to brilliant ball striking technique.


The improvement of attacking position is emphasised by the xG data. This season Chicksen already has an xG of 3.68, and whilst this is slightly lower than his actual output, it’s far higher than his total from last season. In fact, it is 2.44 higher than his total for the entirety of last season, as his total xG for 21/22 was 0.44.


These numbers show that Chicksen is getting into much better shooting positions, and that his scoring form is sustainable. The places from where he is getting the chances he is expected to score from; they aren’t lucky goals or wonder strikes. His last goal, the poach at the back post against Bromley, is great evidence of this, following it in where before Notts would not have a player present. His advancement of position can be shown by his touches in the box; Chicksen has 2.58 touches in the box per 90, more than the likes of Liam Mandeville, Zak Brunt and Maziar Kouhyar. This just goes to reinforce how involved Chicksen is in the final third.


In his own words, Chicksen has put the work in, and is certainly reaping the rewards. "I've been putting in a lot of hard work in the off season, probably more than I’ve ever done, so it’s no surprise to me that I’ve started the season like this" he said after the Wealdstone game, where he scored 2 of his 6 goals.


Clearly he is in the physical shape of his life, something which allows him to get up and down the pitch far more easily than before. This allows him to get in line with Langstaff when Notts have possession, and the positioning, as we’ve already discussed, is directly attributable to his attacking success. Chicksen has worked hard off the pitch so that he can see improvements on it, and this has certainly been aided by the arrival of Luke Williams.


Whilst the new boss was coy with reporters when asked about goal targets, he did admit that he had one for Chicksen, and you would have to think that the wing back is getting close to that target (although the exact number we aren’t privy to). Williams clearly believes Chicksen has a lot to offer in terms of attacking output, and this can be seen in the number of shots Chicksen has taken; Chicksen has already taken 19 shots this season, not far off of Cedwyn Scott (22) and nearly 4 times more than he recorded last season too (5). He’s also hit the target with a very impressive 47.37% of his shots, more than some of the top strikers in the league; Ollie Palmer of Wrexham has a shot accuracy of 39.22% and Nicke Kabamba records 37.21% on target, who are both currently tied for the division’s 4th top scorer.


"The goal is that way!" - Luke Williams (Notts County FC)
"The goal is that way!" - Luke Williams (Notts County FC)

Clearly Chicksen has not only worked on getting into shooting opportunities, but has also worked on his technique too. Williams has instilled a belief in Chicksen that he has the ability to score, meaning he shoots with far more frequency and accuracy.


It’s not just his shooting which has improved and increased in frequency. One of the biggest criticisms of Chicksen’s game was in crossing last season. Whilst he had a really good delivery, an immensely accurate one at that, he simply didn’t cross enough. Last season he crossed just 1.79 times per 90, a really measly amount for a wing back, but this season that amount has doubled to 3.57.


That improvement really is stark; Chicksen crosses twice as much as he did last season, and that’s on top of the shooting contributions he is making. He’s also provided 15 shot assists and has an xA of 1.65, higher than his actual output, just reinforcing the quality Chicksen has with the ball at his feet. Clearly, Chicksen has worked on these areas over the off season, recognising which parts of his attacking game needed to improve. We always knew the quality was there, we just needed to see it more often, and so far this season we cannot have any complaints about that.


In Chicksen and Nemane, Notts have a very nice balance between wing backs, creating a tilt which sees Nemane as the more creative providing wing back and sees Chicksen as the wing back that is more of a finisher.


This is supported by the stats, as Chicksen has 6 goals and 1 assist, while Nemane has 5 assists and 1 goal. It’s not an uncommon sight to see Nemane flying down the right before crossing to the back post in order to find the Zimbabwean, a crossing combination that seems to be working quite potently this season. Clearly the pair compliment each other well, and both are a massive credit to this Notts side.


Aaron Nemane - Complimentary
Aaron Nemane - Complimentary

Chicksen hasn’t just been good going forward though; he’s been a crucial part of a back 5 who are statistically the 2nd best defence in the league. He wins 57.33% of his defensive duels, which for a swashbuckling full back is pretty much on par, and he’s also made an impressive 37 interceptions so far too.


We know Chicksen is strong in a 1v1 situation, and the Zimbabwean is also constantly praised for his availability, playing almost every minute of this campaign. One side of his game that doesn’t get enough recognition though is his discipline, and his impressive record certainly contributes to him being available all of the time. Chicksen has committed just 9 fouls so far this season, and is yet to receive a yellow card, a quite staggering record for a defender who is so involved.


There’s no question that this is the strongest season of Adam Chicksen’s career to date in an attacking sense, and one might argue it’s his best on the whole too. An Indian Summer? Maybe not, as at 31 and in the best shape of his career Chicksen has plenty more to give. And whilst we at Notts Stats like to think we are fairly unbiased, we can’t help but declare flanker as the best left back in the National League. A top professional, Chicksen epitomises the philosophy that if you put the work in off the pitch, you will get the results on it.


COYP

 

Your Notts County Stats Team:

Richard - @notts_stats

Tom - @tomhwilliams23

Colin - @Colin_Sisson


Images:

All images - Notts County FC


Data: Wyscout

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