Premier League: What the numbers say about how teams are really doing

Premier League What the numbers say about how teams are really doing (3)

The table provides more useful information for some clubs than for others as the Premier League is soon to resume, but it does not provide a complete picture of how teams have performed thus far.

Even though in sports, luck and form may be erratic, looking deeper into a team’s expected goals stats can help us understand how much permanent quality they have demonstrated thus far and how the rest of their season may develop.

Unsurprisingly, Manchester City has been the Premier League’s most dominant team this year. However, the defending champions have not been as dominant as they were in the previous campaign – their projected goal difference has decreased from 1.9 per game to 1.2 – and have relied more on Erling Haaland’s outstanding efficiency.

This may be excellent news for Arsenal, who are not only ahead of the champs in the standings but also close behind them in terms of predicted goals, demonstrating that the Gunners are not simply on a roll in the early going but actually have the groundwork for a title fight.

Eddie Howe has constructed Newcastle’s amazing climb under his leadership on a solid foundation, and the North East club is rightfully in the top four alongside Tottenham, who have also had a terrific start to the season despite concerns about their style of play.

Liverpool still has one of the finest offences, but for a team of their calibre, their defence has been comparatively appalling. The Reds have so far allowed the highest-quality opportunities on average in the league this season, despite the fact that their defence did depend on giving up few, high-quality chances to the opposition previous season.

It appeared as though Roberto de Zerbi had entirely halted Brighton’s outstanding start to the season under Graham Potter since he didn’t receive the luck of the draw in his first few games, but the Seagulls are still a strong team under new leadership.

Since West Ham still has one of the league’s top defences, they have performed better than the standings would indicate. Although their offensive has been very mediocre, they should have scored more goals given the opportunities they have had, so once they regain their shooting form, they should move up the rankings.

Manchester United has slowly improved since their shaky start to the season, but so far they have been stealing games rather than controlling them. Although not the most,

Jesse March was put under significant pressure a few months ago following a run of poor results, but this season Leeds have actually played like a mid-table team with him in charge.

In their first season in the Premier League, Brentford was never seriously in danger of dropping back down, and so far, it appears like the same will be true this season.

Under Steven Gerrard, Aston Villa actually played very averagely this season, but a poor goal scoring run and high expectations finally cost him his job, and Unai Emery inherited a better club than the record would have you believe.

Due to the attention being placed on Manchester United’s bad start and Liverpool’s porous defence, the awful play of Chelsea under both Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter has gone unnoticed. While it is too early in Potter’s tenure to draw any conclusions, the Blues’ current campaign will be a “transitional season” without noticeably better play.

Leicester did recover after a very bad start to draw away from the bottom of the table, however the turnaround may not have been nearly as stunning as the results have suggested.

The overall performances of Crystal Palace, Wolves, and Southampton have been remarkably similar, with limited offensive but generally strong defences, despite one team being in the middle of the table and the others in the bottom two. As the season progresses, Wolves should score more goals and Southampton should let up fewer goals, but there is limited margin for error.

Aleksandar Mitrovic’s attack is leading Fulham’s gung-ho survival strategy, and it has been successful thus far. Only Liverpool is giving up better opportunities, although not giving up the most in the league. Naturally, Mitrovic needs to maintain his physical fitness.

Nottingham Forest have performed better than their league-worst goal differential of -19 would imply, even though they do deserve to be towards the bottom of the standings.

Everton’s weak defensive play this year has been obscured by Jordan Pickford’s strong play, so the Toffees must improve if they want to keep England’s top goalkeeper in top form. The opposite end may benefit from Dominic Calvert-Lewin playing more consistently.

Despite having the lowest anticipated goal total of any team, Bournemouth’s performances have consistently improved under Gary O’Neil. The Cherries have 16 points in the bank, whether or not they were entirely merited, and with new owners, there may be money there now as well to improve the team in January.

The table sometimes lies

The actual Premier League table is clearly all that matters, but a different one based on anticipated goals can highlight any areas where it may be slightly misleading. We can get a realistic-looking table of results by giving a win to teams that have outscored their opponents by a third of an expected goal.

Expected Goals Table

Pos         Team     P             W            D             L              CGD       Pts

1              Man City              14           10           3              1              17           33

2              Arsenal 14           10           3              1              15           33

3              Newcastle           15           9              2              4              10           29

4              Tottenham         15           9              2              4              8              29

5              Brighton               14           8              4              2              6              28

6              Liverpool             14           6              6              2              5              24

7              Brentford            15           7              3              5              0              24

8              Aston Villa           15           7              3              5              -2            24

9              West Ham           15           6              5              4              4              23

10           Man Utd              14           5              7              2              2              22

11           Leeds    14           5              5              4              0              20

12           Southampton    15           4              5              6              -6            17

13           Fulham 15           5              2              8              -9            17

14           Leicester              15           4              4              7              -5            16

15           Chelsea 14           4              3              7              -4            15

16           Crystal Palace    14           3              3              8              -5            12

17           Wolves 15           3              2              10           -4            11

18           Nott’m Forest    15           2              5              8              -9            11

19           Everton 15           2              2              11           -10          8

20           Bournemouth   15           1              3              11           -13          6

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