The Expected Goals (xG) Flaw, Evidenced By Leicester-Wolves

Gameweek 1 of the 2019/20 Fantasy Premier League season is over and a lot of us were greeted with major point hauls from Salah and/or Sterling (as expected), welcome offensive returns from our Liverpool defenders (sorry Robbo owners) and a clean sheet from Ryan/Pope (hey! Nice!).

An average score of 65 points is very unusual and there were very few FPL prospects who failed to reap the rewards. Even C. Wilson got in on the action with a sneaky assist, while Kane left it late, but returned huge for those of us who had put faith in him.

Most popular FPL picks delivered either a good haul or possibly some promising expected goals (xG), but not the players involved in Leicester vs Wolverhampton.

Many missed the match entirely, with Newcastle – Arsenal on TV, so when it ended on a whimper, with 0-0 and blanks for Jota, Jimenez, Perez and Vardy, many FPL managers were left underwhelmed.

A quick look at expected goals (xG) would tell you that the popular FPL prospects weren’t even close to scoring. Jota with 0.17, Jimenez with 0.19, Perez with only 0.06 and finally Vardy with 0.00, having failed to register even a shot on target.

But that’s exactly it.. no shot registered means no xG registered. The analytics might say that a goal wasn’t expected for Vardy, but the eye test sure does. I mean… does this not look like a huge goal scoring opportunity for Jamie Vardy?

Jamie Vardy chancev2 1024x576 - The Expected Goals (xG) Flaw, Evidenced By Leicester-Wolves

Vardy failed to connect with the ball, which meant that the biggest chance of the game and one of the biggest chances this entire Premier League weekend, went unmentioned by the xG metric. It didn’t help boost Youri Tielemans’ xA numbers either, while fellow FPL favorite, Ayoze Perez, didn’t get any xG or xA points for being in a good goalscoring position during Leicester’s biggest chance.

This isn’t exclusive to Vardy either. The 0-0 result and low xG scores might make people think that their FPL selections didn’t show any promise, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Take Diogo Jota for one.

Jota registered a 0.17 in xG, but what if I told you he could have repeated his hat-trick performance against Leicester from last season? Don’t believe me? Just look at these chances:

Jota through slipv2 1024x576 - The Expected Goals (xG) Flaw, Evidenced By Leicester-Wolves

It looks like Jota is through on goal, but a surprisingly pacy Söyüncü is able to reach top speed and get next to him. A baffled Jota has to change his plans in full speed, stops up a bit and slips and falls over when he tries to dribble away from the Turkish Usain Bolt. No shot came out of this and it didn’t even show up in the 2 minute highlights provided by Sky Sports on YouTube.

Jimenez unused optionv3 1024x576 - The Expected Goals (xG) Flaw, Evidenced By Leicester-Wolves

Jimenez linked up well with Jota last season, but this time he could have done a lot better. A simple pass towards the back post would give Jota an easy goal, but Jimenez’ mind was made up already. Instead of the easy pass to Jota with his left, he tried getting the ball to his right for a shot. The defenders closing in on him deflected his shot for a simple Schmeichel save and gave Jimenez an xG score of only 0.16.

Jota missed chance 0.17v2 1024x576 - The Expected Goals (xG) Flaw, Evidenced By Leicester-Wolves

And finally, the source of 0.06 of Jota’s total xG… Now I’m not here to dispute the numbers, as people much smarter than me have worked this out, but 6% chance of scoring here? Really? Maybe it takes into account that Jota overstepped his set up a bit which meant that couldn’t hit the ball cleanly and the shot dragged wide left.

Either way, chalk up Jota’s blank to him having an off day – maybe some opening match jitters/rust – rather than not being in goal scoring positions and getting big chances. 0.17 xG be damned.

As the season goes along, I expect Jota and Vardy to score these types of chances, but at least they are already getting them. Jimenez (as seen above) and Perez had their chance too, despite what the numbers tell us. Perez couldn’t get his foot on a knocked down header after a corner and instead the ball bounced safely in to Patricio in the Wolverhampton goal.

As a Jota and Perez owner myself I am in two minds. I am not at all concerned with the future prospects of the one and only Diogo Jota, but Ayoze Perez was disappointing and if he doesn’t look better soon, he’ll be on the chopping block. As a Dendoncker owner who got him off the bench… you don’t wanna know what my thoughts are.