Football

One Twitter Account Is Exposing The Beautiful Nonsense Of “Expected Goals”

One Twitter Account Is Exposing The Beautiful Nonsense Of “Expected Goals”

We don’t know exactly when it happened, but some time over the past 10 years the phrase “expected goals” (or “xG”) became a staple of the football dictionary. To this day, we’re not quite sure what it means.

What we’ve gathered over the past few years is that expected goals stats combine all of the other stats you’ll see – like possession, shots, shots on target, the whole works – and combines that with more ambiguous “stats” like chances created and movement, to try and predict how many goals each team should score in a game.

As you might expect, it doesn’t always work out that way. One of the brilliant things about a low-scoring game like football is that fluke results can happen and, sometimes, wins can be snatched against the run of play, something that expected goals doesn’t account for.

Our new favourite Twitter account – @xGphilosophy – follows the results of all of the big games and compares them to the xG for both teams. Though the xG does generally line up, there have been some brilliant examples over the past few weeks of when the “xG Philosophy” doesn’t quite go to plan. One of them is particularly painful…

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Brighton fans will be well aware of xG, as their team have repeatedly struggled to live up to expectations in the Premier League this year.

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At half-time of England’s game with Poland on Wednesday, however, we were treated to one rare example of xG landing perfectly, and it was oddly satisfying (though it would have been better if Poland had been in front).

Though we’re sure there’s some sort of use for xG somewhere, it does seem like an unreliable statistic to judge a match by.

We’d just love to know what the xG looked like for Celtic’s win over Barcelona in 2012 - it would surely have made for ugly reading for Barca.

SEE ALSO: Watch: Callum Robinson Nets Absolutely Stunning Brace Against Chelsea

Eoin Harrington

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