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Opinion

What Expected Goals tells us about Newcastle United

1 month ago
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In 1997, Newcastle United had just finished second in the Premier League and the Labour Party had achieved a landslide General Election win.

Now 22 years later, both Newcastle United and the Labour Party are struggling to stay relevant and it is hard to be optimistic about the future (if you are a Labour supporting NUFC fan), unless there is a change of direction and leadership.

Considering the restrictions of the post, Steve Bruce will be pleased with what we have achieved so far.

We are on 22 points and seven points clear of the bottom three. We have played well at times but we have also had our fair slice of good fortune so far. We have certainly ridden our luck at times.

One of the newer statistical models which has been used in football over the last few years is the expected goals model (XG).

‘Expected Goals (XG) measures the quality of a shot based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance.

Adding up a player or team’s expected goals can give us an indication of how many goals a player or team should have scored on average, given the shots they have taken’. Opta

With this is mind I had a look at the understat.com website where I found the XG scores for our last seven matches. These scores are shown using decimal numbers.

Burnley 1.44 Newcastle United 1.09 (Actual score Burnley 1 Newcastle United 0)

Newcastle United 1.1 Southampton 1.89 (Actual score Newcastle United 2 Southampton 1)

Sheffield United 1.09 Newcastle United 0.53 (Actual score Sheffield United 0 Newcastle United 2)

Newcastle United 0.22 Manchester City 2.44 (Actual score Newcastle United 2 Manchester City 2)

Aston Villa 2.7 Newcastle United 0.7 (Actual score Aston Villa 2 Newcastle United 0)

Newcastle United 2.33 Bournemouth 1.92 (Actual score Newcastle United 2 Bournemouth 1)

West Ham 1.54 Newcastle United 1.93 (Actual score West Ham 2 Newcastle United 3)

Newcastle have managed to get 13 points from these matches but we have only actually been the better team in two of them, the wins against Bournemouth and West Ham.

You probably did not need the XG model to know that we were lucky against Sheffield United and Southampton and I don’t think many teams will have a better XG in a match against Man City.

For me, two things stick out.

We are too easy to score against and we are not creating enough good chances ourselves.

These statistics largely back up what many fans have seen with their own eyes. We are an average lower half Premier League side and we have been a bit lucky with some of our recent results.

There is every chance that we will get enough points to stay up this season but it is important to remember that there is a lot of room for improvement.

If we don’t improve over the next couple of months we could be sucked back into the relegation battle.

You can follow Kieran on Twitter @KJR90

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