To many football fans across the country, the introduction of “Expected Goals” of xG into Match Of The Day’s coverage of the Premier League is nothing more than a shiny gimmick but from a Crystal Palace perspective, the analytical tool reveals something genuinely astounding,
The general idea behind xG is to rank goal-scoring opportunities in relation to how likely they are to be scored, with a five-yard tap-in seen as a far easier chance than a 30-yard volley through a crowded penalty area. In theory, this should offer punters, players and managers alike a tool by which they can judge the quality of a team’s play away from the unpredictable final scores each week but in Palace’s specific case, it makes for extremely frustrating reading.
As you can see from the link attached in the opening paragraph of this piece, Roy Hodgson’s men are “expected” to have amassed 41 points so far this term, a whopping 14 points more than they actually have to their name at the time of writing. It is a differential which would see them jump up into seventh place and gives an indication as to just how wasteful we’ve been in the final third since August.
Whilst you may wonder what other weird and wacky results xG throws up, it’s worth noting that West Brom are the only other side in the Premier League with a points differential higher than 10, with Southampton featuring third highest on the list at 7.05. Of course, it is all conjecture but when you think back to the points we’ve dropped through last minute penalties being missed and easy chances that were squandered, it does begin to add up.
Unfortunately, we have a chronically out of form Christian Benteke starting from week to week, who just last weekend, missed a first-half chance to give us the lead at Goodison Park before squandering another to get us back into the game after the interval. Obviously, I’m not keen to throw the big man under the bus but if we are to drag ourselves away from the drop zone, he and his teammates are going to have to up their game in the weeks to come.
The record states that we should have scored 39 times in the 2017/18 campaign, when in fact we’ve found the back of the net on just 25 occasions. It doesn’t take the greatest of footballing minds to realise where we need to improve between now and May.