For almost four seasons now, Niall McGinn has been an important component of the Aberdeen side. Brought to the club by Craig Brown, McGinn was initially used as one of the front men in a side built on safety-first. He became the talisman in a stuffy team, expected to grab a goal while his teammates concentrated on keeping a clean sheet at the other end.
He finished top scorer with 21 goals in his first season – his closest challengers were Josh Magennis and Scott Vernon with six – and followed that up with 14 in his second season. By then, Adam Rooney had been added to the attack, sharing some of the goalscoring burden.
While last season and this may not be as impressive in terms of goals scored, McGinn has established himself as the main assist-maker at the club, creating no fewer than 14 goals this season. As the graphic shows, eight of these are from set-pieces.
Furthermore, most of his set-piece assists are from the left. This is because McInnes likes them to be in-swingers. McGinn will take corners from the left, Jonny Hayes from the right and, for the most part, both McGinn and Hayes will stand over free kicks but will deliver an in-swinging cross.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of McGinn’s assists have come from the left-hand side. Usually, the Northern Ireland international will start matches in an inverted wide role on the left – even if his manager has a tendency to aggressively rotate his front four during matches. One of his two assists from open play on the right came at New Douglas Park – one of the few matches he has started on that side – the other was the result of a counter attack at Tynecastle, moments after a Hearts corner.
This article was initially posted on SPFL.co.uk on 01 April 2016.