Expected Goals explained:
Football fans 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, both are viewed equally in the ‘shots’ column. Infogol’s Expected Goals (xG) is a statistical metric which assesses every chance created during a game, assigning a likelihood of each individual chance being scored.
The higher the xG (1.0 being the maximum), the more likely the scoring chance. 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%).
With that in mind …
The Cherries had another solid season last term, finishing 14th, though that was an unfair reflection on their performances. They ranked as the 10th best team in the league according to expected goals (xG), and were the seventh best attacking team.
Defensively they do have their issues, but the signings of Lloyd Kelly from Bristol City and Jack Stacey from Luton could provide a much-needed boost, while Philip Billing should add some more steeliness in central midfield. Sheffield United rightly gained promotion from the Championship according to xG, and Chris Wilder’s side play with a real togetherness. They will be tough to beat, even at this level.
However, Bournemouth have lots of attacking talent and couple that with an extremely strong attacking process – you have a dangerous opponent.
Verdict: While Sheffield United will be a tough nut to crack, the Infogol model thinks Bournemouth will have too much for the Blades on the opening weekend. We give the home side a 60% chance of getting the win, so they’re excellent value at the prices.
Selection: Bournemouth to win @ 10/11
Burnley were in serious relegation trouble last Christmasy, but stayed up comfortably. Sean Dyche deserves a huge amount of credit for the turnaround, as their process improved dramatically in the second half of the season. More of the same could lead to a much more comfortable campaign this time.
The Clarets generated an impressive average of 1.37 x GF per game in their last 15 matches – so should cause Southampton plenty of problems at Turf Moor. Southampton also saw a turnaround in their fortunes and process after Ralph Hasenhüttl was appointed as Mark Hughes’ successor. They can be optimistic of a more successful campaign.
The Saints still remain vulnerable defensively, and conceded an average of 1.56 xGA per game in matches under Hasenhüttl. This needs addressing and have so far only signed forward players in the transfer window and need a few more defensive additions, if they are to kick on.
Verdict: Burnley represent a small amount of value to get the three points in what should be a tight game between two evenly-matched teams.
Selection: Burnley to win @ 13/8
Crystal Palace stayed up comfortably last season, ranking as the 12th best team in the top tie, finishing where they deserved to.
Their summer and pre-season has been overshadowed by the rumbling Wilfried Zaha transfer saga, with Saturday’s opponents Everton, being one of his suitors.
Whether Zaha plays or not, Palace have enough attacking power to cause Everton problems, with Jordan Ayew, Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke and Max Meyer still at the club.
Everton finished in eighth last season, a fair reflection of their performances according to xG, as Marco Silva’s side were hit and miss, playing well in three or four games in a row before playing poorly in the next few.
They have been busy in the transfer window, and although they have lost Idrissa Gueye to PSG, they look in a better place with replacement Jean-Philippe Gbamin, a back-up in Fabian Delph, the permanent signing of André Gomes and the addition of the highly-rated young striker Moise Kean to their squad.
Kean looks a good addition, especially given the striking struggles they have had in recent seasons, and he could help lift them to the next level if he can net 15-20 goals this term.
Verdict: Two strong attacking sides so the recommendation is to back both teams to score (BTTS).
Selection: Both teams to score @ 4/5
*Want more details? Shoot over to Infogol’s Expected Goals introduction.