Premier League Preview 2017/18

The excitement begins as the new Premier League season is drawing ever closer. Our Analyst - using underlying stats and expected goals (xG) alongside performances from last season - finds the best bets for the upcoming campaign. 

 

 

2016/17 Overview

Last season’s Premier League was won in record-breaking style by Chelsea as they registered the most wins in a Premier League season. Having been written off after a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in GameWeek 6, Antonio Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation was the big game changer as they went on to win 13 matches in a row – 10 without conceding. Tottenham pushed Chelsea all the way but again fell short, while Manchester City and Liverpool made up the top four, unlike Arsenal who finished fifth, one place above Manchester United. Jose Mourinho’s men turned their focus away from the league and solely on the Europa League, which they went on to win, meaning England will have five teams in the Champions League (providing Liverpool get through their qualifying round).

 

Sunderland went down after a dismal season in which they won just six games, followed by Middlesbrough who only managed 27 goals all season. Hull were the only team of the three relegated teams to put up a fight, but it didn’t last. Burnley’s home form kept them in the division, while Watford finished 17th after a bad end to the season in which they lost their final six matches.

 

As well as the ACTUAL league table, let’s take a closer look at Infogol’s EXPECTED table which takes into account a team’s performance, not just result, in every match.

 

Final Premier League table 2016/17 including xG figures

 

Chelsea were fortunate to win the title, scoring almost 25 more than expected. It is fair to say that they took their chances, but it’s hard to see them being as clinical infront of goal this term. Manchester City were unlucky last season, with Infogol data making them the best team in the division. They had by far and away the best expected goal difference (xGD) of any team in the league - a good calculator of the best performing team - and if their process remains as good they will take some catching. 

 

  Lloris the Number 1 

 

Tottenham over-performed to a large extent last season, both in attack and defence, though their attack figures were swelled by the two large margin victories in their last two games of the season. Hugo Lloris was one of the star performers for Spurs, as he conceded just 22 non-penalty goals, a huge overachievement compared to the on-target chances he faced which amounted to 34.6 expected goals (xG). Liverpool’s process was very good, as was Manchester United’s, but Arsenal were very fortunate, having a goal difference of more than double what was expected.

 

The worst three teams propped up the league according to expected goals, while the teams in mid-table were all very closely matched.

 

Forecast League Table 2017/18

 

 At the Top

Infogol data suggests that Manchester City will win the title this year in Guardiola’s second season in England. They were the best team in the league last season, and were unlucky to only finish third. They have improved their squad with additions such as Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker, as well as reducing the average age of the squad.

 

 Mendy – who impressed at Monaco – could be a key signing for City 

 

As well as possessing a lot of firepower going forward, City have also strengthened at the back (and brought in a new goalkeeper), making them the team to beat this season.

 

Chelsea will find things much tougher this year, as they now have to contend with Champions League football again. The loss of Nemanja Matic and general thinning of the squad is also a worry, and it is hard to see them replicating their output from last season.

 

Clinical Chelsea? Or Fortunate Forwards? - Only a 0.74% chance that they would score 81+ from chances they created

 

Despite a move to Wembley, Tottenham are expected to finish in the top four, mainly thanks to their improvements over the last three seasons. Their starting XI can rival any in the Premier League, but their main struggles come from a lack of squad depth. 

 

It is expected to be tight between Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal for the final top four place, but with Arsenal’s over-performance from last season unlikely to repeat itself, it looks a two horse race. Manchester United have strengthened over the summer, bringing in proven goal-scorer Romelu Lukaku and solid midfielder Nemanja Matic who will add balance. Liverpool are still looking to improve in defence, with the Virgil van Dijk saga not yet over, but are in a strong position after a solid campaign last time out and a good pre-season.

 

Everton have seemingly bought well over the summer, but the top six is a tough nut to crack, and they are set to fall short of that mark again.

 

Bets

Manchester City to win the league @ 15/8

Tottenham top 4 finish @ 4/5

 

At the Bottom

Newly promoted sides Huddersfield and Brighton have it all to do this term if they are to successfully defy the odds and survive. The Terriers were the surprise package last season in clinching play-off glory, and though they have spent some considerable cash, it is expected to be too much of a step up for them, with Infogol data forecasting that they will make a swift return to the Championship.

 

 Huddersfield in dreamland – for now…

 

 

Brighton are also expected to find life tough, but in Chris Hughton they have a manager who has worked in the Premier League before. Despite this, a lack of serious investment is worrying, as Brighton will be going into the new season with a similar squad of players as the start of last season.

 

Swansea, Burnley and Watford could all flirt with relegation again after close calls last season. Swansea were second bottom at Christmas, and after going through two managers before the turn of the year, Paul Clement came in and steadied the ship. He did a very good job, but Swansea’s process wasn’t great, and if they lose key man Gylfi Sigurdsson, they could once again struggle.

 

Swansea could struggle without Sigurdsson 

 

Watford finished the season appallingly, losing six straight games, and in customary fashion parted company with Walter Mazzari after just a season in charge. Marco Silva, whose stock rose at Hull despite relegation, is now the man tasked with keeping the Hornets up, but they are expected to struggle once again. Sean Dyche continues to perform miracles at Burnley, but they too could be in trouble unless they sort out their away form as they can’t continue to rely on their performances at home.

 

Bets

Brighton to be relegated @ 5/4

Huddersfield to finish bottom @ 21/10

 

Top Scorer

Harry Kane scored seven in his last two matches to retain the golden boot, taking his tally for the season to 29 goals in just 30 league appearances. There was a chunk of luck involved, though, as Kane scored 25 non-penalty goals when it was expected he would score just 13 from the chances he had. An over-performance of this level is very unlikely to continue, so Kane may be best watched this term.

 

Non-penalty xG table – sorted by Goals scored (ActG) 

 

Most players on this list over-performed by a wide margin, meaning it is unrealistic to think that this level of performance is sustainable. One of the few players to perform to a near expected level was Sergio Aguero. In a season of transition at Manchester City, and a season of uncertainty about his own role in the team, Aguero still managed to hit the net 20 times. He managed 16 non-penalty goals and if he plays week-in week-out, he will get chances and will take them - at the very least, he should match his tally of last season.

 

Aguero can fire City to the title 

 

Bets

Aguero top scorer @ 6/1

 

Betting Overview

Manchester City to win the league @ 15/8

Tottenham top 4 finish @ 4/5

Brighton to be relegated @ 5/4

Huddersfield to finish bottom @ 21/10

Aguero top scorer @ 6/1

 

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