Does Pep change City’s starting 11 too much?

Once again last night Guardiola named a starting eleven that was not the same as the previous game, or the one before that or the one before that or well you get the picture. Of course its his perogative after all he’s in charge they are his players and he is the one who picks a team to win games.

The problem is is that whilst they may win most games the ones they dont seem to coincide with a change in personnel and team shape. For instance yesterday night in the Stade Louis || Guardiola went with a) Kolarov at centre back when clearly he is incapable of performing in this role b) Toure dropped to the bench in favour of Fernandinho being more defensive minded. The latter being understandable to an extent the former just bizarre given Otamendi is fit and is a centre back unlike left back Kolarov.

City played in the 4-1-4-1 that has served them well of late and indeed it proved in the first leg with City winning 5-3 at the Etihad. But Toure played as the one infront of the back four and was exceptional in the role as he mostly always is. Fernandinho played at right back partly due to injuries but partly because Pep just does things like that. 

In no way can i say these are bad choices, what do i know compared to one of the greatest managers ever? However the inconsistencies of team selection must play a part in City losing games as they are not sure on a Thursday after training who is playing and where on the Saturday. Why would Otamendi be left out in favour of Kolarov? Why would Toure be left out in favour of Fernandinho? These players must wonder at times why? I play well so why am i in and out of a relatively successful team? It must be frustrating for the players but maybe they have all bought into Pep’s way of doing things i dont know but I would like to see a bit of consistency in that Mn City team others name starting elevens fairly regular even the top sides in Europe so why does Pep feel the need to chop and change match to match? Pep has never named the same starting eleven or shape for more than 3 games in a row strange for a team looking to win major trophies dont you think? 

This, for me, has been there downfall in not beating Chelsea to the title unless the team from West London totally implode of course. Players like consistency and yes of course the opposition, injuries and suspensions all dictate the starting eleven but no consistency has been shown at all from Pep is this the reason? 

Gareth Cooper


Monaco v Manchester City, 7:45pm, Stade Louis ||

Manchester City go to the principality of Monaco tonight to face a free scoring Monaco side but having won the first leg 5-3 Pep Guardiola’s men arent half bad infront if goal themselves. 

Its fair to say the first leg was nothing but pure entertainment with goals flying in. With City averaging 2 goals a game and Monaco 2.5 we should see more of the same tonight.

City have no new injury concerns. Guardiola will probably decide if Toure or Fernandinho plays in the holding role if he goes with his preferred 4-1-4-1 or if a 4-2-3-1 then both will play with possibly Kevin De Bruyne dropping to the bench.

Kamil Glik is suspended so Jemerdon should come in for him in the centre of the Monaco defence. Radamel Falcao has a hip issue but maybe risked.

Combined ExG – 2.51


Preview:Huddersfield Town v Aston Villa

Of the two teams meeting tonight at The John Smith’s Stadium in West Yorkshire, One will be thinking that they should be where the other is now and that team is Aston Villa. Huddersfield Town have surprised many with how their season has panned out with The Terriers currently occupying 3rd place in the Championship 6 points behind 2nd place Brighton and will be looking to consolidate that position with another 3 points at home this evening. Huddersfield, unbeaten in 7 games until they faced Newcastle United on Saturday when they lost 1-3, are a strong and disciplined side and Manager David Wagner has got them well organised and it showed after they held Manchester City to a draw in the first FA Cup game at the Etihad in February.

Former manager and current Villa boss Steve Bruce has a good record against his former employers where he was in charge for 11 games in the 1999-2000 season something The Terriers should be well aware of.

Aston Villa on the other hand in 13th position will be looking to make it 4 wins out of 4 after finally playing at the standard a club and team of there size and ability should be. Steve Bruce’s return to his favoured 4-3-3 set up has finally come to fruition with Mile Jedinak a stand out performer in recent games in front of the Villa defence. The away win at struggling Rotherham on Saturday was the first time Villa have won 3 games on the trot since 2010 a record the Villa faithful will want to see continued this evening. In the reverse fixture at Villa Park earlier in the season Villa battered Huddersfield but only came away with a point and Bruce may well take the same result again.

Team News

Huddersfield will be hopeful that goalkeeper Danny Ward can shake off a knock he picked up at the weekend and Phillip Billing is also doubt which means former Villa man Jonathan Hogg could come into the Huddersfield midfield.

Steve Bruce has a number of injuries to contend with, Birkir Bjarnsson and Jack Grealish both picked up injuries with the former reportedly out for up to six weeks which could mean a midfield start for Jordan Amavi. Four Villa U23 players were left out of a game last night they would have expected to play in and will probably be on the bench this evening showing the situation within the squad due to injuries.

Probable Starting Lineups

Compiled by @ThatGarateyjc

Expected Goals in the Championship: Are teams scoring as many as they should?

Over the last two months since Christmas it seemed to me that quite a few teams in the Championship were achieving some pretty impressive goals per game statistics and thanks to and their data I have been able to delve into this a bit more deeply.

Newcastle obviously top the league at the time of writing and with scoring 64 goals so far this season it’s not surprising in the least. I am going to look at the top six teams given their league positions as of 27/2/17.

Position Team Shots on Target Goals Total Shots
1 Newcastle United 179 64 496
2 Brighton 145 57 444
3 Huddersfield Town 151 43 545
4 Leeds United 114 45 390
5 Reading 167 46 416
6 Sheff Wed 194 40 468

Data compiled using data

At first glance and a brief look at the chart above we can see that Newcastle are top of the pile for good reason after scoring 64 goals and with Brighton -7 off them the nearest to those top two is Reading with 46 an -18 goal difference. Scoring shed loads of goals isn’t a guarantee of getting 3 points of course after all a team could score four and still draw the game 4-4. So being in the Expected goal range of 0.70- 1 per game necessarily mean you will be higher up the league?

First let’s look at the kind of ratios that these teams are scoring at and their expected goals per game but not in league position but in Expected goals per game.

Team Goals per game this season Predicted Ex. Goals per game
Newcastle 1.9 0.74
Huddersfield Town 1.3 0.73
Sheffield Wednesday 1.2 0.70
Brighton 1.7 0.64
Reading 1.4 0.62
Leeds United 1.4 0.54

Data compiled using data


Again Newcastle top of the pile which you would expect partly as they are indeed in that 0.70 ExG per game ratio and also scoring at a rate of 1.9 goals per game anyway. But the surprising thing about the graphic above is seeing Huddersfield Town in second place with an ExG per game of 0.73 even though they are in third place in the Championship below Brighton and scoring at a rate of 1.3 PG a full .4 off Brighton’s 1.7 PG. Referring to the top graphic Huddersfield are shooting at a rapid rate compared to some others but goal conversion is poor considering the amount of shots they are taking but why? So I thought that working out goal conversion is pointless as I have looked at ExG per game anyway and the two are in some ways comparable so I thought maybe I could correlate scoring rates and ExG with the top scorers for their respective teams.

Below is a table showing the top goal scorer in their respective teams and their goals per game ratio.

Rank Team Player Goals per 90 Total Goals
1. Newcastle United Dwight Gayle 1.0 20
2. Leeds United Chris Wood 0.7 20
3. Brighton Glenn Murray 0.6 16
4. Sheffield Wednesday Fernando Foristieri 0.4 10
5. Huddersfield Town Elias Kachunga 0.3 10
6. Reading Yann Kermorgant 0.3 8

Data compiled using data

Once again we see Newcastle are top in these rankings mainly due to Dwight Gayle and his eye for goal. He is also scoring at a rate of a goal a game and this is something all top strikers aim for and it isn’t common either. Another noticeable high ranking team is Leeds United again thanks to Chris Wood scoring 20 goals (his best goal scoring season ever) at a rate of 0.7 a game this is still an excellent goals per game record even though Leeds as a team are scoring 1.4 a game and ranked last in the second table above and are only expected to score 0.54 a game anyway.


Seeing trends in ExG, Goals per game and Shots (Total) is always difficult but it seems having a striker scoring you 20 plus goals a season doesn’t guarantee you a top 4 finish (but it does help!). At the rate Chris Wood is scoring Leeds should have no trouble grabbing 3rd or even 2nd come the end of the season according to his ExG and his goals per game ratio but of course this all depends on how his colleagues do defending at the other end. Brighton should grab second place as they have been a bit more defensively sound than Leeds and with Glenn Murray scoring fairly regularly and others chipping in (Leeds do not) Brighton look a decent bet. Huddersfield will be in the play off places should they continue as they are and Nahki Wells and Elias Kachunga are a good combination but both their ExG must go up if they are to consolidate a place in the top six.

I have rambled a bit I apologise but we should all be questioning and debating ExG and the ratio’s they go alongside it. I will in the next few days publish an expected points finish for the Championship and apply what I have mentioned today.

Gareth Cooper