Liam Kelly's Premier League Numbers of Note

Premier League: Team-by-team xG analysis on the 2021/22 season

Liam Kelly picks out a number of note for each team in the Premier League, a data point that either encapsulates their 2021/22 season, is of influence heading into next, or is just downright interesting.

Manchester City


Although there was an element of panic in the way Manchester City earned a fourth Premier League title in five years, the standout statistic for Pep Guardiola's side this season represents the control they so often hold.

Limiting opponents to 0.72 expected goals against (xGA) per game is emblematic of a squad and a system that hides its defensive weaknesses in sustaining complete command of games.

It is the foundation behind City's machine-like process since Guardiola was appointed before 2016/17, a strategy well-suited to the rigours of a long campaign.

Manchester City xGA per game | Premier League
Each dot represents one of the Premier League's 20 clubs | Blue dot = Guardiola's Man City

Add in the ingredient of Erling Haaland and this dynasty could be even better still next season.



In contrast, Liverpool thrive in the chaos they themselves manufacture.

Their deep forward line is a clear benefactor of such an adventurous approach, posing a huge attacking threat that kept the Reds in the title race until the very end.

An average of 2.52 expected goals for (xGF) per game is second only to City's 2019/20 efforts since Infogol began collating data. It was enough to win 92 points this season, but Jürgen Klopp's side could only finish second.

Liverpool xGF per game
Each dot represents one of the Premier League's 20 clubs | Red dot = 2021/22 Liverpool

What further evidence do we need to prove that this was one of the highest quality battles in Premier League history? Let's hope the rivalry continues.



Chelsea will ultimately be disappointed with a tumultuous campaign, bested by Liverpool in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals and finishing 19 points adrift of champions Manchester City as the third best team in the Premier League.

Indeed, the number three should be synonymous with the Blues' 2021/22 season, not only because Chelsea had it emblazoned across their shirt. Thomas Tuchel's side end it ranking third overall in points, goals scored, goals conceded, expected points (xP), xGF and xGA.

They don’t look like title contenders in their current guise.



Tottenham's significant improvement under Antonio Conte should certainly be acknowledged, but it's time to give Son Heung-Min his flowers for eclipsing his underlying numbers once again.

Son ended the season with a share of the Golden Boot with Mo Salah after an intense late chase from the South Korean. He scored a mightily impressive 23 non-penalty goals this term — 7.58 greater than the 15.42 xG he totalled.

Perhaps it’s his ability to shoot with power and precision from both his right and left foot, but the consistency in which Son outperforms his metrics is the mark of an incredible finisher.

Son Heung-min Premier League 2021/22 shot map



After the disappointment in finishing outside the top four has subsided, Arsenal should be more than satisfied with their efforts this season, especially at the Emirates.

Only Manchester City and Liverpool gained more points as hosts, with the 41 earned at home as good a sign as any that Mikel Arteta’s project is at least productive.

An average of 2.22 xGF and 1.04 xGA per game across those 19 games suggest the results were both deserved and sustainable.

The next step for the young Gunners is to somewhat translate that level of performance to the road.

Arsenal | Premier League 2021/22 (Home)

Manchester United


There’s a lot of numbers that make for grim reading in regard to Manchester United.

A total of 58 points is the lowest in the club’s Premier League history. United are one of a surprisingly low six teams to record a goal difference of exactly 0 during that same period, almost certainly a consequence of a fair amount of shocking defensive displays.

They’ve conceded 57 goals this term, another PL high for the club, while shipping 1.56 xGA per game on average, the highest allowed in the post-Ferguson era by a distance.

Manchester United's expected goals against (xGA) per game average

West Ham


West Ham's ultimately unsuccessful Europa League dream rather overshadowed their Premier League aspirations.

Still, David Moyes' side managed to finish in seventh place and were in the fight for the top six until the very end, dropping just one spot on last season's efforts despite the distractions of a Thursday night.

The Hammers' underlying metrics were nothing to shout about, posting a -0.2 expected goal difference (xGD) and ending the season 10th on Infogol's expected points table, but being a true challenger to the 'big six' is simply the company they keep these days.

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Somehow, someway, Leicester ended the season eighth in the table, despite sitting 18th on xP.

Granted, they suffered a lot of injuries in the defensive department, but the Foxes were one of the worst teams in the league at the back, solid reasoning behind the low projection.

Only Norwich and Leeds conceded more expected goals against than Brendan Rodgers’ side, who allowed chances equating to 71.5 xGA during a difficult campaign.

Expected goals against (xGA) | Premier League 2021/22



Brighton finishing in 9th place should undoubtedly be celebrated but, yet again, it could have been better if not for their failure to finish scoring opportunities.

If I'm sick of writing about Brighton's underperformance on their attacking numbers, Graham Potter must be completely crestfallen at this point.

The Seagulls scored just 42 goals from chances equating to 53.6 xG, indicating there’s further room for improvement at an impeccably run club.

Brighton's Premier League 2021/22 shot map



The idea that Bruno Lage’s side were more expansive than previous iterations of Wolves in the Premier League is simply false, ending the season with only Norwich recording a lower expected goals for figure than Wolves (43.5 xGF).

Let's focus on a positive, though. Only Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham conceded fewer goals than Wolves, mainly down to the sheer excellence of goalkeeper José Sá.

Based on FBRef's post-shot expected goal (PSxG) figures, Sá prevented 9.8 goals with the saves he made in the league, an astounding exhibition of shot-stopping.

Jose Sa stats



Of course, 19 games completed marks the halfway stage of the Premier League season, but it signalled another point in the 2021/22 campaign – the opening of the January transfer window.

More than any other club in the league, that juncture was of obvious interest for Newcastle, a team that were struggling for survival after gaining just 11 points at half term, posting a -23 actual goal difference and a -19.2 xGD.

Since then, Eddie Howe’s side gained 38 points, while holding a positive actual and expected goal difference, looking a different proposition altogether.

Newcastle first 19 v last 19

Crystal Palace


Patrick Vieira was perhaps tasked with the most difficult job in the Premier League at the start of the campaign, taking over an ageing Crystal Palace squad that produced relegation-worthy metrics in 2020/21.

Palace’s renovation has been nothing short of exceptional in the circumstances, infusing the club with youth and adopting a far less pragmatic approach than Roy Hodgson’s reign.

After posting a -28.4 xGD last season, the Eagles hold a +6.5 xGD under Vieira for this term – a substantial advancement (+34.9) in such a short space of time.

Crystal Palace xGD 2020/21 - 2021/22



Brentford haven't looked out of place at all in the top tier, posting outstanding underlying metrics in their first Premier League season, but there is one figure that stands out — number 21.

That's Christian Eriksen, of course.

His return to Premier League action is an extraordinary one that boosted the Bees in a time of need. It's easy to forget that Brentford were drifting toward the drop zone before the Dane first logged minutes in March.

With Eriksen in the starting eleven, Brentford gained 22 points from a possible 30, averaging 1.92 xGF and 1.33 xGA per game. Recording a total of four assists and 3.96 expected assists (xA) in that time is incredible, too.

Brentford with Christian Eriksen in the starting eleven

Aston Villa


Perhaps the most vital moment in Aston Villa's campaign was the decision to replace Dean Smith with Steven Gerrard in November.

Despite a mediocre 14th place finish, the switch has been wholly justified, especially when it comes to defensive displays. Gerrard's reputation of being an outstanding organiser at Rangers has translated to the Premier League.

Villa conceded 20 times in 11 matches under Smith this season, averaging 1.66 xGA per game. In the subsequent 27 games with Gerrard as manager, they've allowed 34 goals and averaged 1.37 xGA per game — a significant improvement of 0.29.

Aston Villa's 10-match rolling xG averages | Premier League 2021/22



Another entirely forgettable Southampton season, making it difficult to identify a number of note. A massive total of 29 points dropped from winning positions would suffice, but, in the name of yet more positivity, individual acknowledgement is required for the Saints.

James Ward-Prowse added three more direct free-kick goals to his impressive Premier League total, which brings the midfielder to 14 — four behind David Beckham's 18.

A true specialist at the skill of set-pieces, Ward-Prowse consistently produces improvement from the generic location-based xG to post-shot xG numbers from direct free-kicks.

Bend it like Beckham might be replaced by whip it like Ward-Prowse in due time.



The importance of playing at Goodison Park was on full display in Everton’s narrow avoidance of relegation, Frank Lampard’s side recording seemingly unlikely wins in staging their survival act.

It was Everton’s performances away from home that had them embroiled in the battle at the bottom.

No team gained fewer than the 10 points the Toffees did on the road this season, coming unstuck in averaging 1.10 xGF and 2.01 xGA per game.

Everton | Premier League 2021/22 (Away)



Leeds United's lack of defensive solidity had them destined for the drop at multiple points during a damned campaign, a final day win from Jesse Marsch's men enough to stave off relegation.

Admittedly, injury issues plagued Marcelo Bielsa's side before bleeding over to the Marsch tenure, but allowing an average of 2.08 actual goals and 1.90 xG per game cannot be repeated if they wish to remain in the Premier League.

Only one figure matters for Leeds right now, though — 17. It's a number that signifies safety after an extremely anxious season.

CLICK HERE to view the final 2021/22 Premier League table
CLICK HERE to view the final 2021/22 Premier League table



Defence may win championships but goals win games, and the Clarets just didn't score enough to 'Burnley' their way out of trouble again.

A six-year stay in the Premier League comes to an end after netting only 34 times in 38 games, underperforming the 46.4 xG Burnley recorded by 12.4.

Such squandering of chances makes you wonder whether some of the 17 defeats could have been draws, whether some of the 14 draws could have been victories.

Goals scored minus expected goals for (xGF) | Premier League 2021/22

Instead, seven wins was one short of the number required to stay up.



A change of manager is nothing new for the Pozzo family. Indeed, another three passed through Watford’s revolving door this season.

However, whether it happened to be Xisco Muñoz, Claudio Ranieri or Roy Hodgson in charge, it made little difference to Watford’s relegation-worthy level.

Watford's 10-match rolling xG averages | Premier League 2021/22

Their underlying process was poor throughout the campaign but underperforming the data in both the attacking (34 goals scored, 44.5 xGF) and defensive end (77 goals conceded, 67.7 xGA) sealed Watford’s fate.



Norwich's perennial place in purgatory continues, seemingly stuck between the level of a Premier League and Championship club.

The Canaries made it abundantly clear that they're not good enough for the former with an appalling attacking output this season.

Creating scoring opportunities equating to 36.3 xGF in 38 games is scant enough to earn Norwich relegation, but scoring only 23 goals from such chances, including three penalties, is bordering on calamitous.

Norwich's Premier League 2021/22 shot map

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