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 1 Offense xG Match Up Rankings
*Rankings are based off of 2017 xG data. As games happen in 2018, the season offense will be updated and form rankings will return!
Week 1 Defense xG Match Up Rankings
- The best xG Home Offenses of 2017 were SEA, HOU, and NE
- The best xG Home Defenses of 2017 were SKC, FCD, and ATL.
- The best Offenses this week are SJ, HOU, and FCD.
- The best Defenses this week are HOU, SJ, and VAN.