I have been trying to come up with a good way to share expected goal totals each week for each SPFL match. I have been playing around with a few things, but nothing has satisfied me aesthetically, so for the time being I am just going to put them here in black and white and some thoughts about each match. You can find a quick refresher on what expected goals are and how I go about calculating them here.
St Johnstone 0.91 – Dundee 0.47
Aberdeen 1.15 – Ross County 0.67
Dundee United 0.06 – Hamilton 0.28
Kilmarnock 1.08 – Partick Thistle 1.71
Motherwell 1.73 – Hearts 1.24
Inverness CT 1.33 – Celtic 1.47
Boy howdy, doesn’t that Dundee United-Hamilton game seem like a real exciting affair?! How they got three goals out of that game is beyond me, but hey that’s football. I have been exploring some of Dundee United’s issues and am looking to post something hopefully explaining some of their troubles with analytics, but from this game, it doesn’t take Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wegner and the entire staff of Opta sitting around eating Nando’s to figure out Dundee United are struggling to create chances.
Celtic have been averaging 1.975 xG per match and earned 1.47 xG on Sunday when facing off with Inverness Caley Thistle, but watching this match live, I had to admire Caley’s first half defensive performance. Celtic got an early goal off of a nice run and finish from about 20 yards from Callum McGregor but for the rest of the half, Caley’s defense frustrated Celtic’s potent attack to great effect, holding Celtic to an xG of 0.32 in the first half. Celtic’s attack got going in the second half, with a much better xG total and were rewarded with two more goals to get the three points (including a goal that bounced off Carlton Cole’s foot, face, and off a Caley defender before going into the net, which roughly has an xG total of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Caley’s defense should be credited with a great effort, though moral victories don’t stop a team from being dragged into a relegation fight. Speaking of…
This week’s award for “Hey, Scottish Football isn’t Boring!” match of the week goes to Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle. The match had a modest xG total of 1.71 to 1.08 in favor of Thistle, but the goal total went 5-2 to Thistle. One of the five was an absolute screamer by Dundee United loanee Robbie Muirhead. With second last place in the SPFL leading to a relegation playoff with a Championship side, this was an important mid-year six pointer. After struggling in the beginning of the season, Thistle have won two and drew two in their last 5 matches, and with Dundee United floating towards relegation island, one has to wonder what United were thinking loaning the likes of Muirhead to Partick Thistle in the first place.