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 www.stratagem.co 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 www.stratagem.co 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 www.stratagem.co 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 www.stratagem.co 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




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