The ongoing battle for a spot in next season’s Champions League has gone to the final day of the campaign.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City are separated by a single point in the Premier League table with just one match remaining, with a variety of factors impacting the points tallies of each team since the Premier League commenced last August.
Refereeing decisions have had an influence on proceedings, luck plays a part, and the individual quality of each player on the pitch obviously makes a difference quite often.
Arguably the most important element, though, is team performance from match to match. If results were decided solely according to which side performed the best on the day, it’s likely that the league table would look very different.
So ahead of the final round of fixtures, which two teams deserve to secure a place in the top four based solely on performances as opposed to results?
Expected Goals (xG) is a very popular performance indicator. It offers an insight into the likelihood of a shot being scored by considering aspects such as difficulty and location, and it tends to provide an accurate summary of whether a team deserved fewer or more goals based on their attempts.
For that reason, it’s quite capable when it comes to painting a picture of how well a team perform on the field regardless of whether they win or lose.
In attack, the numbers suggest that Chelsea have been the most capable. They have taken 608 shots – with those from open-play pictured below – which is 86 more than United and 89 more than Leicester, and their xG is also the highest.
Frank Lampard’s men have been expected to bag a total of roughly 66.8 goals according to their shots, compared to United’s 57.9. and Leicester’s 59.5 Also, once penalties are removed, the number posted by the Reds drops considerably to 48.1 goals, although it’s worth noting that their attack has been notably better since Bruno Fernandes’ arrival.
207 of Chelsea’s efforts have been on target, which is more than United’s 198 and the 178 posted by the Foxes.
So what about the defensive side of the game?
United have the best defence according to xG. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s outfit have been expected to ship 36.2 goals which betters Chelsea’s 37.9 and Leicester’s 43.5.
The Old Trafford side have silently been very consistent without the ball throughout the campaign, but when it comes to allowing opposing players to hit the target, Chelsea are the best defensively.
The Blues have faced 114 shots on target against, compared to United’s 122 and Leicester’s 124.
So once combining attack and defence, which two have been the best performing teams?
Chelsea’s xG Difference is enough to place the team third in the table with a figure of +28.9 followed by United on +21.7, meaning Leicester should theoretically be the team to miss out having posted +16.
Obviously things aren’t quite as simple as that. There are countless aspects that combine to determine results but based on solely on performances using xG as the primary indicator, Chelsea and United deserve Champions League football next season.