Nov 17, 2017
Nov 17, 2017

Premier League review: What have we learnt so far?

Is Manchester City's position deserved?

The battle against the drop

Who are the surprise strugglers this season?

Premier League review: What have we learnt so far?

We’re past a quarter into this Premier League season and pre-season title favourites, Manchester City have shortened from an implied probability of around 35% to a prohibitively short near 85%. How can analysis of the start of the season aid in the Premier League betting markets in order to find value in Premier League betting odds? Read on to find out.

Is Manchester City's start deserved?

Manchester City were arguably the best team in the previous season when they posted more impressive expected goals numbers than actual title winners, Chelsea and they’ve kicked on in 2017/18.

However, they are over-performing by scoring more and conceding fewer goals than their underlying expected goals figures suggest, so they may cool before May.

But their underlying stats are still comfortably the best in the league and simulated runs of the remainder of the season lead to another City title around 90% of the time, suggesting they are even better than the layer’s assessment.

The team’s creative spine is headed by the excellent expected assists/90 numbers for Silva and De Bruyne (0.7 and 0.6 respectively), while Aguero is currently riding a hot, multi-talented crest of expected assists and goals per 90 (0.53 and 1.03 respectively).

Their defensive process is allowing similar rates of expected goals per game to the previous campaign, but individual errors leading to actual goals are much less apparent than was the case in 2016/17.

Manchester City are currently priced at 1.181* to win the Premier League and could be the smart bet in the Premier League odds based on their current invincibility.

Premier League betting: The best of the rest

Defending champions Chelsea were consistently playing with a lead in 2016/17; they scored first in 30 out of the 38 league games, but that’s less the case this season, albeit from a smaller sample.

They have opened the scoring seven out of 11 times so far, but more worryingly their attacking process has shed nearly 0.5 xG per 90 more than last campaign.

Their 2017/18 performances are the weakest of the current ‘big six’ and even if they partly rediscover some of their 2016/17 form, fourth would seem to be their most likely final position.

Manchester United and Tottenham appear to be the best of the rest, based on a weighted assessment of expected goals from this season and the last.

Spurs’ actual performances tally is closest to their expected goals process (20 actual goals in comparison to 18.69 xG), but United’s actual goals conceded record (five) looks vulnerable to regression towards the mean and perhaps a less sustainable level of current performance.

Mourinho’s defence has allowed 0.4 goals per game, but they have presented their opponents with opportunities worth 1.1 xG per game.

Of the remaining challengers, Arsenal have improved slightly both in attack and defence, but Liverpool’s perennial problems at the back remain.

They are currently giving up over 1.3 expected goals per game while conceding even more in actual goals; more than enough to preclude a legitimate title challenge.

The battle against the drop

Whilst City have created a gap between them and the chasing pack, at the bottom of the Premier League table things are not so easy to predict.

Crystal Palace finally broke their duck, both in terms of points and goals scored against Chelsea.

United’s defence has allowed 0.4 goals per game, but they have presented their opponents with opportunities worth 1.1 xG per game.

Their underlying advanced stats suggested they were a mid to lower half table team, who had been unfortunate to spurn a host of relatively inviting chances.

They more than held their own in expected goals in many of their games, losing five games by a score of 1-0, whilst also losing their two most creative attackers, Benteke and Zaha to injury.

A solid mid-table process from 2016/17 combined with similar levels of performance this term mark them as a side whose potential future results may belie their lowly position, particularly during an easier run of fixtures following their visit to Spurs at Wembley.

The two complete newcomers to Premier League football, Brighton and Huddersfield, are both ahead of the one point per game rate that is the usual cut off point for relegation back to the Championship.

However, both teams have faced a relatively benign opening campaign and their near-identical expected goal differences of around minus 0.5 per game could be inflated by a couple of tenths with a more complete fixture list.

Brighton have also over-performed defensively against their expected totals and nearly half of their attacking expected goals have been generated outside of open play; particularly via the boot of dead ball specialist Pascal Gross.

These tactical methods often tread a fine line between survival and a quick return to the Championship and both teams are likely to feature in the relegation race despite their solid beginnings.

Premier League odds: Is anyone safe?

Such is the narrow talent gap between teams outside the Big Six, few from the rump of the league can feel secure about their fate in 2017/18.

In simulations of the remaining season after week ten only Southampton, Leicester, Newcastle and Watford ultimately finished in one of the relegation positions fewer than ten percent of the time.

Many of the league’s niche tactical quirks can be found in the lower reaches of the table.

Liverpool are currently giving up over 1.3 expected goals per game while conceding even more in actual goals

Burnley are once again failing to impress many expected goal models, particularly defensively, where their 1.6 xG/game rates are dwarfing their actual concession rate of just 0.9 goals per game.

This is a continuation from 2016/17 and Sean Dyche’s packed defensive lines, along with Burnley’s high volume blocking of opponent’s attempts appears a sustainable variant of a perennial survivor, Tony Pulis.

Pulis’ own West Brom enter their third full season in partnership and appear to have arrived at the stage where set-piece dependent goals coupled with dour defensive setups begins to sour relations between club and manager; with little room for innovative upsides and narrowing survival margins.

Premier League betting: Surprise strugglers

One surprise addition to the current list of struggling sides is Everton.

The seeds for a poor start were sown in pre-season when Everton attempted to replace Lukaku’s substantial expected goals contribution either from within or by re-kindling old flames and the expensive acquisition of Gyfli Sigurdsson; a creative player who relied heavily on his delivery of dead balls.

Throw in an ageing defence and a glut of short, Thursday to Sunday weeks courtesy of the Europa League, a re-boot under a new manager and Everton appear vulnerable.

However, their woes have been partly schedule driven. Easier opportunities await in the run-up to Christmas and their underlying stats make a final position just below mid-table most likely.

The remaining teams of Stoke, West Ham, Swansea and particularly Bournemouth are all struggling to create xG figures in excess of one goal per game, but are also proving generous to their opponents. Each is conceding around 1.7 xG per game and with the promoted teams already having points in the bag, they head a list of potentially vulnerable teams come May.

With the Christmas schedule upon us, it is likely that those overperforming or underperforming in comparison to their xG scores will revert to the mean. This may open up some opportunities to find value in the Premier League betting markets which, if noticed early enough, can be taken advantage of.

Odds subject to change

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