Who is HOT?
While they aren’t top of the table through seven games, City ought to be based on the underlying metrics, having collected the most expected points (xPoints) in the Premier League thus far.
Their 2-2 draw at Anfield against a title rival was a sensational game and a cracking performance, and it rounded off a difficult start to the campaign from a schedule standpoint – particularly on the road.
Pep’s side have already played at Tottenham, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool – four of last season’s top seven – and even though they have had some kind home fixtures , their underlying xG process is incredibly impressive given those away fixtures (2.35 xGF, 0.62 xGA per game).
They are they team to beat, and have a home game against Burnley to get them warmed up after the international break – a game they usually win 5-0.
The other team to be involved in that memorable clash at Anfield should be feared this season.
Still unbeaten, the Reds have really hit top gear in attack, averaging a league high 2.84 xGF per game through the opening exchanges of the campaign.
While there are question marks defensively, if the Reds continue to attack in the same manner they will win a lot of games this season.
Mohamed Salah has been in scintillating form, with six goals (5.4 xG) and three assists (2.1 xA) to his name already. The Eqyptian looks well-rested and fresh, and recently was named as Infogol’s Premier League xG player of the month for September.
Klopp’s men have returned to their title winning attacking levels, with Salah a driving force of that. Watford beware.
Who is WARM?
It appears as though, through the early stages of the new season, that Wolves are the new Brighton.
While they sit in the bottom half of the table, Bruno Lage’s side rank fourth for xPoints and third for expected goal difference (xGD) – key metrics for looking at how good or bad a team actually is.
Performances have remained consistent, especially defensively, where only Manchester City (0.62) have posted a better xGA per game than Wolves (1.04).
If they continue with the same levels, expect the Old Gold to climb the table. They visit Aston Villa on Saturday, and given their supremacy according to data in matches so far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win – at a big price too (3.65).
What a strong start to the season Everton have had under Rafa Benitez.
They sit fifth after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, but underlying metrics suggest they should sit a few places higher in third.
While their last three performances haven’t been as impressive as those they started the season with, they can be somewhat forgiven having been without Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, their two best attacking players.
Their averages of 1.65 xGF and 1.07 xGA per game are really impressive figures that are markedly up on last season’s, and while they have had the second easiest schedule so far according to Infogol’s average forecast position of opponent, between now and the next international break (yes there is another one), their schedule ranks as the fifth easiest – starting with a home game against West Ham.
Who is COOL?
It wasn’t the start to the season many envisaged for FA Cup winners Leicester, who sit 13th with eight points from seven games. Performances warrant them being 15th based on xPoints.
They have won the xG battle in just one of their seven league matches thus far, having major issues in attack.
The Foxes have averaged just 1.13 xGF per game, the third lowest total in the league, while only five teams have created fewer non-penalty big chances (0.35 xG+) than their five.
Couple that with a defence that has looked all over the place in averaging 1.75 xGA per game and you have a bottom half xG process. They host Manchester United on Saturday, and the Foxes really need to improve their levels if they are to get anything from that game.
The above graphic plots the rolling xGF (blue) and xGA (orange) averages of Leicester under Rodgers since the start of the 19/20 season. The majority of the time Leicester have posted a positive xG process (blue), but the start of this season has seen their first period of prolonged negative process (orange). Something needs to change, and fast.
Southampton remain winless through seven games, sitting 17th in the table – exactly where they deserve to be.
They rank as the second worst team in terms of non-pen xGF per game (0.98) and the third worst in terms of non-pen xGA per game (1.79) – meaning they are ultimately performing like a team we would expect to be in a relegation battle.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have performed at this level since beating Liverpool at St. Mary’s last season, so it is nothing new, and unless something changes, results will be hard to come by – starting with Leeds this weekend.
Who is COLD?
What can we say about Norwich other than that they are once again not at the level required to compete in the Premier League.
Daniel Farke’s side rank bottom of every major metric so far this season, struggling at both ends of the pitch.
On Saturday, they host a Brighton team who are flying high, so it could be another gameweek without a Premier League win.
You may be asking; Why are Spurs still in the ‘COLD’ category after beating Aston Villa last gameweek?
Well, despite that being a good result and performance based on the numbers (xG: TOT 1.92 – 1.37 AVL), over the full seven games thus far Spurs have performed like a relegation threatened team.
They rank as the fourth worst attacking team based on xGF per game and the third worst defensive team based on xGA per game.
All of that means that their underlying metrics are actually down on Jose Mourinho’s tenure in charge of Spurs – including xPoints per game.
Until I see a couple of good performances in succession that suggests the corner has been turned, then they will stay COLD.
A trip to Newcastle on Super Sunday may have looked the perfect game to get in their groove and build on the momentum of victory over Villa, the takeover at St. James Park has brought a feel-good factor back to the club that will make it a tougher game.
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