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EPL Analysis and GW 32 Prediction

A data-driven attempt in predicting English Premier League results using xG Statistics

This is an article on my EPL Prediction series. You can check out the prediction for Game Week 31 and how it fared against the actual performance here.

Expected Goals or xG is the parameter used for prediction. If you are interested in understanding the algorithm for prediction, I recommend that you check out this article where it is explained in detail.

Analysis up to Game-week 31

EPL Table after GW31 (Image by Author)

In Game-week 31, Leeds United ended Man City’s 24 match unbeaten run in the League despite Cooper receiving an early red card. Man City is still at the top of the table with 74 points.They are 11 points clear of their city rivals-Manchester United at the second position.

Man United Crushed Spurs 1–3, pushing them to 7th position in the league.

Top of the table clash between Leicester City and Westham United was predicted to be the most closely contested match of the game week. The Hammers emerged victorious in the match handing the Foxes their second defeat in a row. However, the top four remains unchanged with the Hammers narrowing the gap to one point. The Blues are at the heels of the Hammers with 54 points trailing by only one point.

Liverpool secured 3 points at Anfield against the Villans. The Reds moved to 6th position taking advantage of Spurs dropping points against Man United. However, Ancelotti’s Everton were not able to capitalize on Spurs dropping points settling for a draw against the Seagulls.

The Gunners and the Peacocks with 45 points each are in the top half after winning their respective matches.

Moyes’ Villa who were eyeing a top 4 finish are now out of the top half, Jack Grealish’s absence is hurting their performance.

In the bottom of the table, the Blades conceded yet another defeat, this time losing to the Gunners 3–0. They are practically relegated, 18 points behind Newcastle United at 17th position. The Sparrows who are 8 points from safety have secured back to back wins in their last two outings. Fulham in the 18 position in the meantime, has conceded back to back defeats despite putting up good fight.

The Seagulls and the Clarets with 33 points are 7 points clear from the danger zone.

xG scored and conceded per game (Image by Author)

After 31 game-weeks, Man City dominates both attack and defense as it has the highest xG scored and the lowest xG conceded per game.
The Reds are still in second position with respect to xG scored. They are followed by the the Blues and the Red Devils who have scored more than 1.5 xG per game.

The Sparrows, thanks to their performance in the last two matches are not the last team in terms of xG scored. Crystal Palace is the team which has the least xG scored per game. Sheffield, Newcastle and Burnley have also scored less than 1 xG per game.

Manchester City with around 0.75 xG conceded per game, seems to the the best defensive unit despite conceding a few goals in the recent matches.
Tuchel’s Chelsea is at a close second position. The Seagulls are the only other team which has conceded less than 1 xG per game.

Most teams concede between 1 to 1.5 xG per game. West Brom, Sheffield United, Leeds and Palace have failed to stop their opponents from creating goal scoring opportunities, having conceded more than 1.5xG per game.

xG Scored vs xG conceded(Image by Author)

Based on xG Scored and xG Conceded, teams can be grouped into 4 quadrants as shown in the above graph.
The horizontal dotted line shows the average xG scored per game. Teams above the horizontal dotted line are strong attacking sides and the teams below, weak in attack.
The vertical dotted line shows the average xG conceded per game. Teams to the left have a strong defense and the teams to the right have week defense.

Delta xG (Image by Author)

Man City is head and shoulders above the other teams with respect to delta xG, with a difference of more than 1 between xG scored and xG conceded. Liverpool and Chelsea are the the only other teams with delta xG above 0.5. West Brom on the other hand is struggling at both ends of the pitch with the weakest attack and porous defense. Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Burnley also ranks very low under delta xG.

Delta xG (Image by Author)

Leeds United ranks among the top in xG created per match. However, the team has negative delta xG as opponents find it easy to penetrate the Leeds defense, something Bielsa has to immediately look into.
Wolves on the other hand is a good team defensively, but they lack the strike force with Raul Jiminez out due to injury.

Brighton as per the delta-xG table is placed at 5 position, however they are in the 15th position in the table as they lack quality strikers up front.

Game Week 32 Predictions

Before proceeding to the predictions, let me clarify that this is a very simple algorithm just based on past xG, so only baseline performance can be expected. The algorithm also fails to predict high scoring games. The model also does not take into account the team selection, absence of players due to injuries/suspension, formation, tactical changes etc.

However, the model has been performing pretty well in predicting the momentum of the matches. You can check out how the actual performance fared against the predictions made for the previous game week below.

Predictions for Game Week 32 are provided in the table below.
The absolute value of GD shows the competitiveness of the match. The higher the value, more one sided the match is expected to be and higher the accuracy of prediction.
The lower the value of GD, the more the match could be anybody’s game. Positive value of GD means Home win and Negative value means Away team win.

Predicted Results (Image by Author)

Game week 32 does not have any match which is very tightly contested(delta xG less than 0.10) and completely one sided (delta xG greater than 0.70).
Man City and Leicester has very good chance of securing 3 points from their outings this weekend against Aston Villa and West Brom respectively.

Man United and Wolves have very good chance of winning their home games whereas Liverpool and West Ham can expect to secure three points from their away games.

Spurs and Gunners have good chance in their home games against the Saints and the Cottagers.

Blues can expect tough competition from the Seagulls at the Bridge. However, the algorithm predicts the Blues to have an edge over the visitors.

Game-week 32 is a double game week for Spurs. Their second match vs the Toffees is expected to be the most closely contested match of the game-week. However, the algorithm shows Mourinho’s men to have a slight advantage over Ancelotti’s team.

Delta xG Predicted (Image by Author)

Update: Predictions Vs Actual Results

Predictions vs Actual Results (Image by Author)

The algorithm was accurate in predicting the direction on 8 matches out of the total 10 matches in the game week which is great for such a simple algorithm. What makes it more interesting is the algorithm had a 87.5% accuracy in the matches where the predicted delta-xG was more than 0.2. The match which the algorithm was not able to predict properly was the one between Newcastle United and Westham. It was surprising victory for the relegation battling Newcastle United against a Westham side which is eyeing a top four spot.

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Photo by Pascal Müller on Unsplash

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Abhijith Chandradas

Abhijith Chandradas

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Data Analyst | Hacker | Financial Analyst | Freelancer | IIM MBA | Opensource | Democratize Knowledge | https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLpBd4gzfIBXm2BPpdHOWdQ