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SB Nation’s Soccer Showcase: Explaining Expected Goals

A brief explainer as to what “xG” is and what it means

Annual E3 Gaming Industry Conference Held In Los Angeles Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

A good video to help explain what “xG” means and what it means to us fans.

Thanks to SB Nation staff for putting this together.

Michael Caley of FiveThirtyEight and Cartilage Free Captain fame wrote an explainer of what “Expected goals” meant.

I know I’m tempted to point at stuff like this and go “NERDS” but it’s the new way of looking at football. The eye test can only go so far, and while it’s important not to lose the beauty of football, it’s important to find useful stats that can help novice fans understand the game or even help veteran fans explain to those why fans love a certain player. While passion and logic often don’t mix in fandom, this is still a good development.

Leeds United fans should be encouraged by teams using data and research. AC Milan in Serie A used to use analytics long before everyone else did, and they won multiple titles and cups using it to their advantage.

Now while teams like Manchester City, Chelsea, and PSG can just buy up all the good players and throw money at problems, clubs run on a budget need every advantage they can get to compete with the big boys. When Leeds United gets back to the Premier League, I’d rather the team use data and scouting to advance up the table rather than just panic buy if trouble appears. West Ham United, for example, are run by an owner (David Sullivan) that considers himself a Director of Football and is quick to blame every bad decision on his manager while taking all the credit for the good purchases.

Leeds look to be run by someone who isn’t going to do that, and hiring Ivan Bravo of the Aspire Academy and Victor Orta, who had a brilliant record in Spain before coming to Middlesbrough, Andrea Radrizzani has trusted the data people and the stat nerds. The building up of the academy and the signing of players to long-term deals to avoid contract drama has been brilliant.

So embrace the stats revolution.