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Manchester United are in the bottom three – at least according to the xG Premier League table

Paul Pogba
(Image credit: PA)

Loathe it or completely loathe it, xG is now a familiar part of the modern game. It stands for expected goals - that's the number of goals that you'd expect to be scored from the positions in which a club are taking a shot. 

Each shot is compared to thousands of others. From there, boffins can determine the probability of a goal - that means that an xG of 0 is a certain miss, while 1 is a certain goal. A penalty, for example, is worth 0.75 - because statistically, when compared to other shots, you have a 75% chance of scoring.

Consider this. Manchester United beat Liverpool 1-0. But in that game, Liverpool dominated. They had 30 shots at goal to United's one effort - and according to the quality of the shots taken, a more probable scoreline would have been United 0.39-2.11 Liverpool. With us, here?

This game would swing Liverpool's way 86% of the time, according to the stats. United have won but only attained 0.2 xPts - and that's what this table is all about. The probability of winning, not the winning itself. Because in this mad, mad sport in which Aston Villa can smack the champions for seven and Leicester City can win the league, we need something - anything - to help us predict what will happen next.

xG table

(Image credit: Future)

So as you can see, Everton are still top of the table, according to xG. They got somewhat lucky in their first match - a 1-0 victory away to Tottenham Hotspur, which you can thank Jordan Pickford having a good game for, Toffees fans - but overall, their xG has been excellent, thanks to James Rodriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin dominating in the final third.

Liverpool are in second. They're actually fifth in the table but given how many chances they created in the first few games - perhaps coupled with how many rebounds Villa scored against them - they're still the best-performing side in the country not managed by Carlo Ancelotti. 

The truly interesting thing in all of this, however, is that Manchester United find themselves in the bottom three at this early stage in the season. 

It's fascinating because post-Ferguson, we haven't considered United to have such problems with their defence. The general consensus with United under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho was that there wasn't much creation up top - a problem that Bruno Fernandes came in to solve. All summer long they chased Jadon Sancho. And now the issue looks to be far deeper than just creating chances. 

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Newcastle United have been performing at a better xPts rate than Ole Gunnar's Solskjaer's side, so the clash between the two will be an interesting six-pointer just above the relegation zone. 

Of course, there's plenty of time for all of this to be turned around. This table does, however, provide a fascinating insight to how your team have actually been playing - compare their placing in this league with the actual Premier League...

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