Expected Goals recap
Many football fans will already know that a player has a better chance of scoring with a shot from the edge of the six-yard box than a shot from 30+ yards, but on the stats sheet after a game, these two shots are viewed equally in the ‘shots’ column. Infogol’s Expected Goals is a statistical metric which assesses every chance created during a football match, assigning a probability or likelihood of each individual chance being scored.
The higher the xG (1.0 being the maximum), the more likely the opportunity of being taken. So if the xG is 0.3, the chance should be scored 30% of the time. A penalty has an xG of 0.76. (76%).
Want more details? Shoot over to Infogol’s Expected Goals Introduction.
Crystal Palace finished last season in 12th spot, a fair reflection of their performances according to xG, as they were never really involved in a relegation battle. Roy Hodgson’s side had a strong mid-table process, but their pre-season has been centred around Wilfried Zaha, and him wanting to leave Selhurst Park.
Zaha’s dribbling ability, counter-attacking threat and trickery would be missed by the Eagles, but his underlying numbers were far from impressive last season. He narrowly edged out Jordan Ayew for the title of Crystal Palace’s non-pen xGI/90 leader, averaging 0.29 xGI/90, and while he would be missed at Palace.
The Infogol model thinks the Eagles will be mid-table whether he leaves or not, giving them only a 3% chance of relegation.
While the Saints only finished 16th just five points clear of the relegation zone, they ranked as the 11th best team in the league according to expected goals – once Ralph Hasenhüttl came in and turned things around.
Hasenhüttl has now had a full summer to get his philosophy drilled into his players, and has brought in Che Adams who impressed in the Championship last season (0.47 non-pen xGI/90), for Birmingham. He’s a ‘Hasenhüttl’ style player with his energy and high-pressure, while also making Danny Ings a permanent signing from Liverpool after a strong 18/19 season (0.57 non-pen xGI/90).
A mid-table finish is expected for the Saints.
West Ham finished a respectable 10th last season, thanks to three straight wins the Infogol model suggests flattered the Hammers. Manuel Pellegrini’s side were very poor defensively and this is definitely the biggest area in which West Ham need to improve to finish higher this season.
Their transfer business in attack has been eye-catching since selling Marko Arnautović to China, West Ham’s xGI per 90 leader in 18/19 (0.48), the Hammers moved swiftly to snap up highly-rated striker Sébastien Haller from Frankfurt (0.60 non-pen xGI/90), and the French forward is arguably an improvement on Arnautović.
Pablo Fornals is another exciting recruit but it will be hard for the Hammers to advance unless their defensive woes are addressed.
Watford made an excellent start under Javi Gracia, and were safe very early in the season. They concentrated on Cup competitions, leading to an FA Cup Final defeat to Manchester City.
Watford really took their foot of the gas, leading to a deterioration in their underlying process, resulting in them finishing the season in 13th place in the xG table. Their squad remains broadly the same, but there are a few interesting players that could come into the fold on the back of successful loan spells.
Forward Juan Camilo ‘Chucho’ Hernández averaged a whopping 0.67 xGI/90 at relegated La Liga side Huesca last season, while 21-year-old winger Dodi Lukebakio played at Fortuna Düsseldorf in the Bundesliga last season and averaged 0.56 xGI/90. Both are very promising young players.
Relegation shouldn’t be an issue as they look to have an exciting transition on their hands with these young players. Another mid-table season is expected.
Until Sean Dyche worked his magic and completely flipped their process and season around at Christmas – Burnley were in deep trouble.
The turnaround was astounding but as soon as they started performing like a capable mid-table team by creating more and better chances, better fortune followed. If that continues into this season, the Clarets tight-knit group will likely secure their PL status nice and early.
The Magpies pre-season has been turbulent again, as world-class manager Rafael Benítez has been replaced by Steve Bruce.
Bruce did well at Sheffield Wednesday last season, but is seen as a big step down, and to make matters worse, the Magpies have sold both Ayoze Pérez and Salomón Rondón – their two most important attacking players last season according to xG.
They’ve spent a hefty amount on Hoffenheim striker Joelinton, which is a step in the right direction, but more signings are needed. While Newcastle finished 13th in the league last season, they ranked as only the 17th best team, being defensively vulnerable throughout (1.65 xGA per game).
They’ve a very realistic chance of being relegated @ 2/1 unless they improve their process – with Infogol giving them a 32% chance of finishing in the bottom three.
Brighton finished just three points above the relegation zone last season and the xG model pointed to them being the third worst team in the league last season.
Graham Potter is the man tasked with turning around their fortunes and he impressed at Swansea last term. A huge improvement is needed if Brighton are to have a more comfortable season, but it may take time for the players to get use to Potter’s philosophies – which will be in complete contrast to last season under Chris Hughton.
Brighton are 17/10 to go down with Paddy and our Infogol model makes it a 45% chance of that happening.
Dean Smith completely turned Aston Villa’s season around last year in the Championship, guiding his home-town club into the top six and a return them to the promised land – through the play-offs.
They haven’t held back, signed 10 players on permanent deals but a lot of these signings are loan-deals made permanent from last season, which will give them some continuity, unlike what Fulham did last season.
Despite all the money spent, the Infogol model still thinks Villa will be among the relegation favourites this season at 9/4, and currently rates them as the third-worst team in the league. But they’re not far behind Brighton and Newcastle if they don’t get their act together.
The surprise winners of the Championship last season and Daniel Farke deserves a huge amount of credit. They were a little fortunate to go straight up but netted 93 goals last season from chances equating to around 76.8 xGF, an over-performance of nearly 16 goals. That’s unsustainable this season.
Norwich haven’t made too many changes to their squad in the transfer window just yet, which could be a good thing – but the Infogol model thinks Norwich’s stay in the Premier League will be short-lived at 6/5, and we give them a 51% chance of relegation.
Another surprise package last season – though not to Infogol who tipped them to finish top six – was Sheffield United gaining promotion.
Manager Chris Wilder deserves huge credit for guiding this team to the Premier League, especially as they have hardly spent anything since his arrival. Rated as the second-best team according to expected goals last season, their process is impressive, and they will likely play a style and formation that the Premier League might not have seen before, so will be exciting to watch.
They have spent this summer, bringing in Lys Mousset, Callum Robinson and Luke Freeman, and now have a better equipped squad – but we still think it will be a struggle for them.
We calculate that the Blades have a 54% chance of relegation (just below Paddy’s quote of 4/5), and a 23% chance of finishing bottom of the Premier League – for which they are 11/4 favs in Paddy’s book.
*Prices correct at time of publishing