I just spent the last three hours fixing my database and besides having completely lost my mind (I don’t need it) I think I’m ready to write about the first 10 games of the season. All stats below ONLY count through week 10, only use Premier League data, and I use a home-brewed expected goals formula (a nice balance between amber malt and hops; not too sweet, not too hoppy, not watery, but also not a flavor bomb – a very drinkable ale) and while it’s kind of simple it correlates well to actual goals.
Using expected goals versus actual goals it’s probably no surprise to learn that Crystal Palace is the most “unlucky” team this season. They have an actual goal difference of -17 but an expected goals difference of just -3. Most of their “bad luck” is down to bad finishing. They have created 16 big chances which should have seen them score 7 goals but they have a League low 12% big chance conversion rate and are 2nd worst in the League even getting big chances on target with 44%. The League average for big chance conversion is 46% and 68% of all big chances are on target. Palace have also only converted 3.45% of their shots in prime – these are shots in the 18 yard box right in front of goal – where the League average is 25%.
Liverpool and Arsenal are 3rd and 4th most underperforming teams in the League but for exactly opposite reasons. Liverpool because they have conceded 16 goals where we would expect them to concede just 12 and Arsenal because they have scored 19 where we expect 23.
Liverpool’s problem is both that they have conceded a ton of big chances (18) but also that the opposition have managed to get 88% of their big chances on target. The League average for big chances on target is just 68%, so while their save percentage is fine, they just allow too many on target. The other odd wrinkle with Liverpool is that 16 of the 18 big chances they have allowed have been in away games. And while they have played Man City and Tottenham away, they have also conceded 7 big chances to Watford and Leicester.
Arsenal, meanwhile, create plenty of Big Chances (tied for 2nd most with Man U (30), but well behind first place Man City (45)) they have the 2nd lowest big chance conversion rate at 26% – if the scored at the League average rate they would have 5 more goals to the good and might even be considered title contenders this season.
This is entirely down to Alexis Sanchez. Like two years ago, the Chilean is in a scoring slump with just 1 goal from 25 shots. Sanchez has taken 15 of his 25 shots outside the box, which is a recipe for a los scoring season (those shots are scored at a 3% rate). It could well be that playing every day for the last three years has finally worn him down. That’s OK, because Arsenal could use a guy to get the ball to Lacazette, who is an actual goal scorer.
Manchester United are literally the most overperforming team. They have only allowed 4 goals this season, all of them big chances. I haven’t seen this kind of stat in 10 games since I started doing this three years ago. Moreover, it’s not like United are keeping teams quiet: they have conceded 100 shots already, 6 more than even Arsenal who are typically called soft. And they aren’t all shots from distance either. 31 of their 100 shots conceded were shots in prime (31%). Compared to Man City who have allowed just 13 shots in prime, which is 20% of their total, United look like they could be in for a big crash.
I also have Chelsea and Burnley down to “revert to mean”. Chelsea played well above expected goals last season and are at it again this season. They have allowed a “top 6 leading” 121 total shots. What’s keeping them afloat is that unlike United – who are relying on a 70% SiP save rate from de Gea – Chelsea have only allowed 10 big chances. Tied for 3rd fewest. They need Kante back, stat, if they want to keep overclocking this defense.
Meanwhile Sean Dyche has the British press boiling over his season so far but I wouldn’t put much money on them staying in the top 10. Their main problem is that they have already allowed 182 shots – and they are decent shots as well with an expected goals against of 17.25.
Their trick is that they block shots. A lot of blocked shots. Dyche took a page from Claudio Ranieri’s book and is trying to block shot his way to a championship. 67 blocks in the first 10 games. But even if you remove those 67 shots, Burnley are still living very close to the edge: they have allowed 16 big chances but the opposition have only scored 6; they have allowed 27 unblocked shots in prime and the opposition have only scored 6. That accounts for 3 more goals that they should have conceded and there are another three from long range shots – they haven’t conceded a single goal from distance this season.
But even if they do keep the block party going, the real big problem is that they can’t score. Right now, they are on track for 38 goals in a season and in the modern era that is relegation fodder. In 1992-93 Arsenal scored 40 goals in a season and finished 10th. They at least had Ian Wright (right right) who helped Arsenal to the cup double on his way to 30 goals that season. Burnley have a couple of guys with 3 goals each at the moment. But hey, if you want your Arsenal back, you could just follow Burnley. They seem to have the “boring boring” thing down pat: they have three 1-0 wins, three 1-1 draws, and a 0-0 draw. Plenty of chances to sing “one-nil” during those matches.
Man City are ridiculous you guys
Man City have taken the most shots (185) and conceded the fewest (65). They have the most big chances (45) and scored the most (24). They have also allowed the 2nd fewest (9) and have conceded the joint fewest goals from big chances (3).
Guardiola’s team were doing this exact same thing last year but the difference this year is that they are slightly overclocking the finishing: 53% of big chances and 41% of shots in prime.
Arsenal have no chance against City at home tomorrow. Arsenal’s entire season record is lashed to 5 wins from 5 home games. In away games they have 1 win, 1 draw, and 3 losses. For City, the only points dropped were to Everton where City had their lowest expected goals output of the season with 1.62. Arsenal’s lowest expected goals for was 0.59 at Liverpool. Even if Arsenal play for the draw, they will need to score first to get a point from this fixture. Arsenal could come out attacking a surprise the Citizens and then try to hang on for the Tottenham-style smash and grab for the next 80 minutes.
Wenger has never beaten Guardiola in an away game, losing 15-5 on aggregate over 5 matches. The good news is also that Wenger has only failed to score against a Guardiola team once in 11 tries.