We pick out our ones to watch on the resumption of the Premier League
We pick out our ones to watch on the resumption of the Premier League

Premier League eyecatchers: Ronaldo, Salah, Conte and Palace

With Premier League clubs returning to action this weekend, we take a look at who the underperformers, overachievers and ones to watch are heading into a crucial stage of the season.

Ronaldo keeping Ole afloat?

Manchester United and Ole Gunner Solskjaer have had a poor start to the season.

But if it wasn’t for Cristiano Ronaldo’s five goal involvements, things would be far worse.

Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021/22

Without those, United slip from sixth to 10th in the Premier League – exactly where we have them in Infogol’s performance-based Expected Goals (xG) table – and from top to bottom of their Champions League group – a place lower than they ought to be according to xG.

Patrick's process has Eagles flying

Crystal Palace are unrecognisable under Patrick Vieira.

They are creating more chances, more regularly according to Infogol’s xG model, while their defensive improvement is astonishing, allowing 0.59 Expected Goals Against (xGA) per game fewer than under Roy Hodgson.

Vieira v Hodgson

They are averaging 1.45 xPoints per game - more than Arsenal, Manchester United, Leicester and Tottenham.


The standout strikers

Mohamed Salah leads the Premier League in both goals and assists, sits in the top 10 for all major attacking metrics, ranking first in six of them, and is proving nearly impossible to stop in a rampant Liverpool attack.

His Infogol Expected Goal involvement per 95 (xG + xA) of 1.05 is by far the highest in the division, on par with his best season as a Liverpool player back in 2017/18.

The best player in the world right now?

Salah caption

Rom ready to roll again

Romelu Lukaku has scored only three league goals this season, but much of that can be explained by his late arrival just prior to the transfer deadline, and a recent injury.

When he has been available, his Infogol xG/95 average of 0.49 places him eighth among players to have played 450+ Premier League minutes, which suggests he's consistently getting on the end of high quality chances.

In this superb Chelsea team, Lukaku will score goals.

Lukaku caption

Vardy (still) having a party

Jamie Vardy has been extremely clinical this season, scoring seven goals from chances equating to 4.13 Expected Goals.

But his 0.39 xG/95 places him down in 15th among players to have played 450+ Premier League minutes.

Vardy caption

You'd think he is performing at an unsustainable level, however since Infogol started collecting data in 2015/16, Vardy has overperformed his xG in six out of seven seasons.

Last term was the first time he fell short (15 goals from 20.96 xG).

Conte can fix Spurs

Antonio Conte has a job on his hands, but his record suggests he’s the man to do it.

Chelsea finished 10th in 2015/16 – 12 months on they were champions. That was built from the back, with Chelsea (0.87xGA/game) practically matching Manchester City (0.86) for the league’s best defence according to Infogol.

At Inter Milan, Conte inherited fourth-placed finishers, securing a runners-up spot in 19/20 and the Scudetto a year later.

That came via an attacking transformation, from creating chances equating to 65.1 xG before his arrival, to 70.1 in his first season and 75.7 in his second.

Give him time, and Conte can solve all Spurs' problems.

Three new managers take charge this weekend, all are in a relegation battle
ALSO READ: Who's staying up and who's going down?

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