After months of build-up, hype about new signings and growing promise ahead of the new season, nothing can burst your bubble quite like an opening day defeat.
Chelsea were hoping to get off to a perfect start under new manager Frank Lampard with academy products Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham both starting but the Blues were put to the sword by a vibrant Manchester United side.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were clinical at Old Trafford and this can be seen in the expected goals (xG) statistics. For those of you who are new to this particular area of analysis, expected goals assess every shot and answer the likelihood of a player scoring from that position. For example, Marcus Rashford had a 76% chance of scoring his penalty, which is viewing as a 0.76 on the xG compared to Daniel James scoring his goal from a difficult angle at just 0.13xG.
So what is the point in all of this data? Well, from this we can see where teams were unlucky to lose and where they should have taken their chances. Even if a side is not getting the results, a high xG is positive and things should start to turn around for the team once they begin taking their chances. For Manchester United, their combined shots in the entire game totalled 2.37 xG which proves just how clinical they were in front of goal whereas Chelsea deserved to score and had 1.37xG, hitting the woodwork twice.
Frank Lampard can take heart from these figures and the scoreline is harsh but essentially, the right team came out on top. Elsewhere on Sunday the results also reflected the xG with Leicester (0.53) and Wolves (0.54) sharing a 0-0 draw and Arsenal (0.88) narrowly taking all three points at Newcastle (0.37).
On Friday night, Liverpool seemed to run riot against newly-promoted Norwich scored four goals in the first half but the Canaries were not as bad as the scoreline suggested. Liverpool’s xG of 1.68 did exceed Norwich’s 0.83, but the game was a much more even contest and Daniel Farke was pleased with his side's performance against the European champions.
Southampton, according to the data, were the unluckiest side this weekend. Their 3-0 defeat to Sean Dyche’s Burnley appeared like a nightmare start but they amazingly outperformed their opponents according to the xG. Their total figure of 1.09 exceeded Burnley’s 0.89 yet Ashley Barnes was lethal in front of goal, scoring the opener from a chance rated at just 0.08xG and teammate Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson found the net from a tight angle with an xG of just 0.07.
An Abdoulaye Doucouré own goal helped Brighton outperformed their 0.86xG to win 3-0 at Vicarage Road against a Watford side (0.68xG) who must improve in front of goal if they are to succeed this season. West Ham (1.13xG) should have found the net against Man City but Pep Guardiola’s men created loads of chances with the highest xG of the weekend, 3.16.
Sheffield United (1.53xG) deserved their late goal against Bournemouth (1.18 xG) as Billy Sharp converted the ‘likeliest’ chance of the weekend, his shot from inside the six-yard box had an xG of 0.81.
Meanwhile, Tottenham (2.37 xG) were dominant against Aston Villa (0.64xG) despite going behind and new signing Tanguy Ndombele takes the crown for scoring the most difficult chance of the weekend, his curling effort from outside the box had a staggeringly low xG of just 0.02.
So from these figures were can expect a more positive result from Southampton next time out and once again, Manchester City look like the team to beat. Pep Guardiola’s side were simply dominant against West Ham and look like they could be untouchable yet again.