Infogol’s Jake Osgathorpe returns to highlight key hot and cold data trends from an expected goals (xG) standpoint heading into the weekend…
Newcastle the real deal
Newcastle are well clear of safety after a nine game unbeaten run which has featured six wins.
The run started after Boxing Day, and their most recent success against Southampton moved them 10 points from safety.
The main takeaway is that this good run is no fluke.
In that time frame, only the traditional ‘big six’ have collected more xP per game than Eddie Howe’s side.
Over the period, the Magpies have averaged 1.59 xGF and 1.31 xGA per game – figures of a solid top half team.
If they continue in the same manner, a top half finish perhaps isn’t out of the equation, with Newcastle just four points behind 10th placed Southampton.
They are available to back at 5.3 on the Exchange for a top 10 finish, and will head into Sunday’s clash with Chelsea with plenty of confidence of causing an upset.
Conte’s Spurs not getting enough credit
The good job Antonio Conte has done at Tottenham is getting nowhere near enough publicity.
Before his arrival, Spurs ranked as the fourth worst team in the entire Premier League based on all the major metrics. They have ranked fourth best since.
Under the Italian, their process has improved markedly, going from being out-created by their opponents on a game-by-game basis to being on par with Chelsea.
Tottenham’s xP per game has increased from 1.10 to 1.83, and for context that that means that a Spurs team managed by Conte over a full season would collect roughly 27.7 more xP than a team managed by Nuno over a 38-game campaign.
It is some turnaround, and not enough is being made of it.
A visit to Old Trafford on Saturday is an opportunity for Spurs to make a statement that would get this upturn on the radar, and also a chance for Conte to answer his critics – you know, the ones who said he ‘wasn’t right for Manchester United’…
Canaries falling, not flying
Norwich’s defeat to Chelsea in midweek has left them five points from saftey having played three more games than fourth bottom Everton.
They look doomed, and rightly so.
As things stand, the Canaries are set to smash the record for being the worst Premier League team Infogol has ever seen, based on xGD per game.
The current holders of the coveted title are Hull from the 16/17 season, who averaged -1.02 xGD per game. Norwich are running at -1.20 after 28 games.
Unless anything changes, Norwich will go down with a whimper (again), as the most famed yo-yo club continually seem a cut below Premier League level.
They have an opportunity on Sunday to pull within three points of a relegation rival though, as they head to Leeds to face a team who are also struggling.
Unfortunately for Norwich, their away process is also on course to be the worst Infogol has ever seen in the top flight (-1.62 xGD/game), which doesn’t bode well ahead of back-to-back away games.
Reece Chelsea’s new talisman?
While Chelsea are going well currently, a bit of digging into the data suggests that their mid-season slump came due to the absence of Reece James.
The Englishman is proving to be a crucial cog in the Chelsea machine, and after his latest injury set-back, the stats point towards another potential downturn in the Blues’s process and results.
In the games he has played in the league this season, the Blues have averaged +1.22 xGD per game. Without him that drops to +0.15.
xP per game is another major metric that is hit hard when James isn’t available, going from racking up 2.06 when he is in the side to 1.48 when he isn’t.
That difference of 0.58 xP per game equates to just over 22 xP over a full season, and suggests that if he could have stayed fit through the course of the campaign, we may have a three-horse-race for the title.
As it happens though, James has struggled with injuries, and this latest set-back should give their opponents more confidence when facing the Blues – starting with Newcastle on Sunday perhaps?
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