Stoke lost 2-1 today to Crystal Palace making them the first team to be relegated from the Premier League this season. Football can be a cruel mistress and sometimes relegation isn’t deserved but this season Stoke City had the worst defense in the League, conceding 65 goals and 88 Big Chances, and the fourth worst offense in the League scoring just 32 goals and creating a third worst 42 Big Chances. Stoke also had the 2nd worst expected goal difference in the League (using my own formula) meaning that not only were they shipping goals, not creating goals, but their goals for and against record was well deserved.
In the first graphic we sort the League table by points and Stoke are 2nd from the bottom. West Brom won today over Tottenham, given them a small lifeline in their final two matches of the season. Stoke, a team that long prided itself on its defense allowed the most shots (551), the most shots in prime (the area in front of goal from about 12 yards in, 157), the most big chances (88), and as a result, the most goals (65).
The team with the worst expected goals difference is Swansea, though their problem wasn’t defending, it was attack. The Swans only created 35 Big Chances this season and an appalling 84 shots in prime. If they escape relegation it will be a bit lucky to say the least.
Sorting my table by points taken and then displaying the expected goals difference, we see that Southampton, should they get relegated, would be a pretty big shame.
Man U are still clear leaders of the “overperformance index” having allowed 420 shots by their opponents. That number is stark when you see that Man City and Liverpool combined have only allowed 487 shots, 67 shots more than Man U. Saves from de Gea, combined with 6% conversion from outside the box (13 goals, which added an extra 6 goals to their tally) have kept United in the top four this season. It’s unlikely that they will be able to repeat this feat if they play the same way next season.
Palace started the season going 7 matches without a goal and scored just three goals in their first 11 matches. But they were creating chance in that time, 17 big chances in the first 11 matches and scoring just two. Christian Benteke was the main problem, he’s scored just three goals this season and missed 20 big chances. Arsenal supporters should be happy that Wenger never plonked down the money to buy him like many fans wanted a few years back.
Palace really did “revert to mean” this season. From match 12 to today Palace scored 25 big chances on 58 shots, a finishing rate of 43%, which while it still isn’t great, is just two percentage points below League average.
Arsenal boast the worst defense in the top six and their big chances giveaway rate is appalling for a top team. Wenger’s side have conceded 64 big chances this season, that’s the same number as Man City and Chelsea combined. Arsenal also allowed 104 shots in prime which is a number that they should definitely improve on next season when the new manager buys a defensive midfielder or somehow magically gets Xhaka to play a little D.
Burnley could overtake Arsenal for 6th in the table which would make them the most overperforming team in the League. They lead the League in blocked shots and basically play for 1-0 wins all the time. Sean Dyche has done a great job there to get them as far up the table as he has considering how many goals they should concede. But like Leicester before them, and Stoke before them, this model of play eventually leads to relegation and almost never results in a trophy.