At the start of any Premier League season there is always a lot of noise. This season is no different. The chart below is not meant for forecasting.
It is interesting that Arsenal have the 2nd highest expected goal difference. Though, the Arsenal ease of schedule (facing a weak Stoke side and a leaky Leicester) can account for that. But the signs are certainly ominous for the Gunners, allowing 7 shots in prime and conceding three goals from those shots, the same defending as lowly Brighton.
Most of that data comes from the one truly horrible defensive performance on opening day when Arsenal conceded 3 goals to Leicester. All three were goals in prime.
Man U, Man City, Chelsea, and Everton are already showing their defensive teeth. Everton is probably a bit of a surprise but when I looked at their formation against City, they literally played with a back 8. Even so, keeping City to just a few good chances is a good show.
One of the reasons I think City are such strong contenders for the Premier League is that their defense is so good. That’s not something you’ll hear folks saying. Last season they were top of the pile in terms of expected goals allowed (by which I mean fewest). This is exactly how Guardiola plans these things – possession for him is a defensive art as well as offensive – though sifting through the data what I’m learning is that Guardiola’s City is always going to have a low xGA because they simply allow so few shots.
Liverpool are being Liverpool: Klopp’s clenched jaw, angry grinding his teeth as his team concede absurd numbers of big chances. They have already allowed 4 BC this season, which has to be especially troubling for Liverpool supporters because 1) it’s a continuation of their Arsenal-esque sloppy defending from last season and 2) they have only played actual bums (Watford and Cry Pal) this season. I do wonder how long Klopp can last. His tenure at Borussia Dortmund ended with this exact same problem of building a team which attacks like angry bees but meanwhile the Moose is stealing the honey.
And finally, I’m legitimately worried about Swansea. I’ve watched both of their matches and they look as bad as the stats suggest. I know they played a rapacious Man U but they also allowed 29 shots by Southampton on opening day. I have a lot of respect for that club and their stadium is one of my favorites in Europe. I hope they can find a way to get things together and push out of these doldrums. Hopefully they can use some of that ridiculous Sigurdsson money and get in an attacking midfielder who can create from open play.
Anyway, yes Stoke is on here twice. It actually reads “Stoke Stoke Nuke” which is like duck duck goose. Based on the stats so far, the Arsenal-Liverpool match this weekend could be a repeat of the famous 4-4. Who will play the part of Arsenal’s Arshavin?