Manchester United are actually overachieving, data suggests 2 months ago

Manchester United are actually overachieving, data suggests

So United are... even worse than we realise

Manchester United have endured a difficult start to the season, with humiliating losses to both of their closest rivals particular low points. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team currently find themselves sixth in the table, but according to the data, they should be even lower.


Over at experimental361, a table has been compiled showing how it would look based on xG (expected goals), translated into expected points. Before we go any further, let's just explain how it works.

The brain behind experimental361, Ben Mayhew, told JOE: "Basically, the little green numbers show how much better a team are in the expected world and red = worse, so at the moment Man City and Brentford are 8 points worse off than the data suggests, while Leicester and Chelsea are overachieving by 5 points each.

"There's more than one way to calculate expected points (and not all expected goals models give the same numbers).

"I've deliberately gone for a simple method to make it more accessible and transparent - if the teams' xG totals in a match are within 1/3 of a goal then I count it as a draw (as this gives a proportion of draws that's pretty realistic over the long term) - any bigger margin gets recorded as a win."

Got it? Good.

So, inevitably the table has some teams punching above their weight in the real world, whilst others have failed to turn data into real life points.


According to the table, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side should actually be 11th and languishing in the bottom half of the table, eight points clear of safety with Watford in 18th place.

United aren't the only other ones who are punching above their weight in real life, with Antonio Conte's Tottenham Hotspur fortunate to be where they are in the table as well.

Like United, Tottenham are also five places better off in the actual Premier League table in ninth than in the xG table which has them in 14th.

Meanwhile looking at the top of the table, it's glaringly obvious to see Brentford have been the unluckiest team in the league.

The newcomers have impressed with their displays but some of those haven't reflected in the full-time score.


If we're going by xG, translated into expected points, Thomas Frank's side should actually be in European contention, sitting just a point behind West Ham United in fifth place - a massive nine places higher than where they actually are. Instead they sit in 14th on 12 points, just four above the relegation zone.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City would also be runaway leaders in the league according to xG, which shows that they should be eight points better off where they are at now.

At the bottom of the table, nobody should be surprised to see that Norwich and Newcastle's real life league positions are mirrored, with Norwich slightly fortunate to have got five points, and Newcastle unlucky not to be on six.

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