Infogol’s Liam Kelly uses expected goals (xG) to look at what fans can expect from Manchester City in the new season and which players will be key to securing success at the Etihad.
2019/20 Actual Position: 2nd
2019/20 Expected Position: 1st
2020/21 Forecast Position: 1st
City beat Liverpool to the title by just one point in the 2018/19 season and everybody predicted another two-horse race. But after dropping 19 points before the end of December it meant that the title race was all but complete by the turn of the new year and City ended up 18 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Despite the gap in points expected goals revealed that City (+1.62 xGD per game) weren’t that far away from the level of performance they achieved the previous year (+1.70 xGD in 2018/19). They actually performed better than the record breaking 2017/18 season (+1.58 xGD) where they clocked up 100 points.
That boost in underlying process was solely down to City’s blistering attack, racking up 101.6 xGF (2.67 per game) and scoring 102 goals, 17 more than Champions Liverpool.
2019/20 Premier League Table - sorted by most xGF
However City struggled to adapt to life after former captain Vincent Kompany, as their defensive standards slipped. Although they still had the lowest xGA in the league, conceding an average of 1.05 xGA per game, it was the quality of chances they allowed which was nowhere near their efforts in 2018/19 (0.70) and 2017/18 (0.71). Tightening up the defensive areas will have been a priority for Guardiola.
Out of favour Leroy Sané has left the club, with young winger Ferran Torres brought in as his replacement. There is a huge void to fill though as club legend David Silva ended his 10-year career at the Etihad. It’s still to be seen whether Guardiola will look to splash the cash on the Spaniards replacement or if he will keep faith in his current attacking options.
City have also brought in Nathan Aké from a relegated Bournemouth side. The versatile Dutchmen will hopefully go some way to solving the defensive worries.
If City are going to catch Liverpool then PFA Player of the Season Kevin De Bruyne will be crucial to Guardiola’s side. The Belgian star had a superb campaign last year and recorded a phenomenal 20 assists to match Thierry Henry’s record that has stood since the 2002/02 campaign.
The Infogol data proves this stat was no fluke either, as De Bruyne generated an incredible 20.44 expected assists (0.65 xA per average match), more than 8 assists clear of his closest rival, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Expected Assist (xA) Leaders | Premier League 2019/20
De Bruyne also proved how clinical he is front of goal scoring 13 times from 7.17 xG.
Ones to watch
Raheem Sterling continued his excellent form under Guardiola scoring 20 goals from chances equating to 20.19 xG in the Premier League last year and although he recorded just the one assist his xA was 6.36, proving how much of a threat he is not only when scoring himself but by setting up chances for his teammates.
Nobody has been brought in yet to replace David Silva. This could mean Phil Foden could get his chance to prove himself in 2020/21.
The academy product who made his England debut against Iceland in pre-season could get the chance to shine after showing glimpses of his potential with his limited playing time last season, posting 0.46 expected goal involvement (xGI) per average match.
Infogol expect City to regain the Premier League title. The attacking threat throughout the squad and potential to concede fewer goals means City have a 47.8% chance of finishing in 1st place.