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Man City above Liverpool - How the Premier League table would look based on expected goals data

BTSport.com contacted football experts Opta to help us crunch the numbers and work out what the Premier League table would look like based purely on statistics. It certainly makes for interesting reading.

Liverpool sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table as we return to action following the final international break of 2019.

With almost a third of the league season already behind us the Reds command a sizeable lead, but is it to be expected?

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With the help of our friends at Opta and their expected goals (xG) data, BTSport.com have compiled a table showing what the underlying statistics suggest.

Expected goals, or 'xG' for short, measures the quality of a shot based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance.

Expected goals therefore provides an indication of how many goals a player or team should have scored on average, given the shots they have taken.

There’s some happy reading for both Manchester clubs and Southampton fans too might have some cause for optimism ahead of this weekend’s trip to Arsenal.

But sadly for West Ham and Tottenham fans, who can watch their teams in action live on BT Sport this Saturday, the stats sadly don’t paint a vastly different picture from the reality.

It’s one of just 52 live Premier League matches being broadcast on BT Sport this season, so if you’re not yet a member, check out our range of packages to sign up.

Before analysing the table it’s worth noting how Opta calculate their expected goals totals, and here are a few handy explainers:

 

  • If both teams have an expected goals total of 0.5xG or less the result is a 0-0 draw.

 

  • If the highest scoring team (in terms of expected goals) has more than 0.5xG and less than 1.1xG, they win if the xG difference is bigger than 0.3xG.

 

  • If the highest scoring team (in terms of expected goals) has more than 1.1xG but less than 1.5xG, they win if the xG difference is bigger than 0.4xG.

 

  • And finally, if the highest scoring team (again in terms of expected goals) has more than 1.5xG, they win if the xG difference is bigger than 0.5xG.

Got that?

We know, it’s all a bit confusing unless you’re a football boffin, but here is the result of all those calculations and what it means for your team.

The standout headline is that Manchester City lead the way, six points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s men and out on their own at the summit.

The difference between the actual Premier League standings and what xG would expect represents a huge 15-point swing between the title rivals.

The table also shows that City have not lost a match, whereas in reality Pep Guardiola’s side have suffered three losses – including the 3-1 reverse at Anfield.

Equally Liverpool’s long unbeaten run, currently standing at 29 matches, has been broken in the early weeks of the campaign with the Reds suffering two defeats.

Other sides that have fared considerably better in the xG table include two relegation candidates in the shape of Southampton and Watford.

The Saints, who sit 19th in reality, are 10 points down on where they should be with Quique Sanchez Flores’ men nine points and eight places worse off.

At the other end of the spectrum it’s the team closest to Liverpool, Leicester City, that are outperforming their xG data most considerably in the early weeks.

Top scorer Jamie Vardy has helped inspire the Foxes to nine more points than would be expected as they mount a top four, and perhaps even title, challenge.

The overall findings provide hope for clubs like City and Southampton, whose fortunes will start improving fast if they can manage to convert gilt-edged chances into goals. 

If remains to be seen if these underlying statistics come to shape the Premier League table more closely in the coming weeks, but one thing is for certain, BT Sport will continue to bring you the best of the action.

For a full list of our upcoming fixtures, including every Champions League tie, check out our Live on BT Sport section to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

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