With unlimited transfers this season, match ups are more important than ever. The question is how to evaluate match ups, especially if you’re only an aspiring Armchair Analyst and not yet the real thing. The answer? Expected Goals (xG).
What are expected goals (xG)
The idea behind xG is simple. Every shot is awarded a probability of scoring based on the position on the field and the game situation, based on giant databases of shots from years and years of data. Then at the end of the game all the xGs from the individual shots are added up to generate the team’s xG for that game. This metric is a useful measure of the teams overall attacking or defending play, more so than just looking at how many goals a team has scored or allowed. If you’d like to learn more, there’s a nice video by MLS to explain further:
How to use these rankings
The rankings below use the xG metric to rank the match ups each week to help you determine which teams you should try to choose your attackers or defenders from. Each teams score is an average of their xG/g and their opponent’s xG/g separated out into offense/defense and home/away match ups. For example, if Atlanta plays NYCFC at home. Atlanta has an average home xG/g is 1.62 and NYCFC’s has an average away xG/g allowed is 0.96 for an offensive xG score of 1.29 xG. The reverse can be done to calculate their defensive score for this week. The game by game xG numbers are taken from Ben Baer’s weekly xG article.
Week 22 Offense xG Match Up Rankings
Season Offense: Match up calculated using season xG average.
Form Offense: Match up calculated using average of last 3 games.
|Week 22 Rank||Team||Opponent||H/A||Season OFF||Form OFF|
|2||San Jose Earthquakes||CLB||H||1.48||1.78|
|3||NY Red Bulls||NYCFC||A||1.17||2|
|8||Sporting Kansas City||ATL||H||1.59||1.3|
|17||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||COL||A||1.03||1.23|
Week 22 Defense xG Match Up Rankings
Season Defense: Match up calculated using season xG average.
Form Defense: Match up calculated using average of last 3 games.
|Week 22 Rank||Team||Opponent||H/A||Season DEF||Form DEF|
|2||Sporting Kansas City||ATL||H||0.94||1.09|
|3||San Jose Earthquakes||CLB||H||1.02||1.04|
|18||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||COL||A||1.35||1.61|
|19||NY Red Bulls||NYCFC||A||1.56||1.5|
In addition to the weekly rankings, I’ll be experimenting with adding some interpretation/advice. I’ll try to do this Matthew Berry’s 100 facts style. Let me know what you think in the comments.
- Chicago is the #1 Offense and Defense this week.
- The highest total xG games this weekend are NYRB at NYCFC, LA Galaxy at Portland, and Houston at RSL.
- The best chances for a clean sheet this week are Chicago, Sporting Kansas City, and San Jose.
- Chicago and Sporting Kansas City are the biggest xG differential favorites this week.
- Toronto is the only away xG differential favorite.
- While Minnesota scored four goals last week, their xG was only 0.40.
- While Toronto scored four goals last week, their xG was only 1.38, less than NYCFC’s in that game.
- NYRB scored 4 goals with an xG of 4.34.