Premier League xG: Relegation Run In

It's getting nervy in the Premier League relegation scrap, so what do the remaining fixtures look like for all clubs involved?

premier league relegation run in

Now into March, we are approaching the most exciting stage of the Premier League season, with all of the major issues still to be decided. Will it be Arsenal or Manchester City who lifts the title? Which sides will be lining up in the 2023/24 Champion’s League? Just two of the questions occupying the minds of those assessing the best tipping sites.

Perhaps the most intriguing battle comes at the other end of the table, with all sides from 12th downwards being firmly involved in the battle to beat the drop. So tough is this race to predict that investors may be more tempted to sign up at the best brokers for forex traders.

Difficult it may be, but perhaps not impossible, with a number of tools available to those attempting to predict how the relegation race may unfold. Here we utilise the popular Expected Goals (xG) model to assess the underlying performances of the sides in the bottom half of the table in an effort to determine the three sides likely to finish in the most unwanted positions in the league table.

What is xG?

For those unfamiliar with the measure, Expected Goals is simply a tool which places a numerical value on the chances created and conceded by a side in their matches, in an effort to predict how many goals a team could be expected to both score and concede given the quality of these chances.

In a game of such small margins, xG is preferred by many as a means of assessing the underlying performances of a side, rather than simply looking at the bare results of their games. By examining the xG for and against stats, we can then make a prediction on the number of points a side would be expected to have gained during their games – a total which often differs markedly from the actual points on the board.

For the purposes of this article, we combined the points gained by each of the relegation-threatened sides, with the predicted number of points they will gain over the remaining games, using their average xG points per game to date. We then used these points totals to determine the likely finishing positions of the sides, and zero in on those most likely to be playing Championship football next season.

Bournemouth Fighting a Losing Battle

Red hot favourites for relegation at the start of the season, the Cherries are still the side most likely to go down. Getting off to a shocking start under Scott Parker, things have improved under Gary O’Neill, but likely not enough. There have undoubtedly been excellent results and performances – highlighted by that recent win over Liverpool – but consistency is the name of the game in this league, and in that area, Bournemouth have been found sadly wanting. With no obvious reasons for improvement on the run-in, the south coast club are predicted to finish rock bottom on 34 points.

Saints Go Marching Down?

Now onto their third manager of the campaign, following the dismissal of Ralph Hasenhüttl and the short-lived reign of Nathan Jones, this has already been a season to forget for Southampton. Propping up the table with 12 games remaining, the Saints are only two points adrift of safety and have picked up a couple of notable results of late – winning at Chelsea and drawing at Old Trafford – but there has not been enough improvement in the underlying numbers to suggest they will escape their current predicament. Seriously short in the experience department, it is a lack of goals which seems likely to prove their undoing – a total of just 20 in 26 fixtures being the joint worst tally in the league. In what could be a disastrous season for south coast football, our model has Southampton finishing second bottom on 35 points.

Toffee’s Remain in a Sticky Situation

The most tentative prediction of the xG model sees Everton rounding out the bottom three on 36 points. Currently 15th and 1 point clear of the bottom three, this is a slightly surprising outcome given the improvements in results since Sean Dyche took over on the 30th of January. Whilst it is possible that Everton may have improved their xG performance under Dyche, they are a long way from being out of trouble, and face trips to Chelsea and Manchester United, in addition to home clashes with Spurs, Newcastle United and Manchester City in what looks a pretty tough run in.

Forest, Leeds and Leicester are all Vulnerable

Of the other sides currently in the bottom six, West Ham have been performing much better than their results suggest and are expected to escape with something to spare. However, the same can’t be said of newly promoted Nottingham Forest; a Leeds United side relying on the “new manager effect”; and Leicester City, who continue to struggle for consistency. All three clubs are predicted to finish on 37 points – just one point above the dreaded drop zone.

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