xG explained: The stats-based model that suggests Sheffield Wednesday SHOULD be sat in the automatic promotion places

A run of one win in their last seven Championship matches has seen Sheffield Wednesday sink to 11th in the table, some seven points shy of sixth-placed Bristol City.

By Alex Miller
Monday, 3rd February 2020, 5:00 pm

But a stats-based analysis model that has revolutionised the way football is watched and talked about in recent years shows that, based on the quality of the chances they have both created and conceded in the league this season, the Owls should be sat fending off challenges from the play-off pack rather than hoping to re-join them.

xG – a model that has been widely accepted in international football circles as a balanced way to assess a side or player’s performances – puts Wednesday in second place in the table, behind only Leeds United.

The model takes into account the likelihood of a goal being scored from a certain area on the pitch – a shot from a central angle, for example, is worth more than one from out wide and a header is worth less than a shot with the ball at feet – in order to arrive at an ‘xG rating’ which rates the attacking and defensive output of a side.

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It is designed to take out any emotion or bias from the analysis of a performance and deliver a ‘hard numbers’ summary of the quality of chances both created and conceded.

Wednesday’s most-recent match, a 0-0 draw with Millwall at Hillsborough, saw a total xG of 0.94 for the Owls and 0.51 for the visitors, suggesting the home side had the better of the chances in a tight affair. The findings across the season suggest that the Owls have been wasteful of big chances, which correlates with the fact that their goals conversion rating of 14 per cent is higher than those of only Barnsley, Birmingham and Stoke.

Other clubs that have been performing below-par in terms of xG include 14th-placed Hull City, who xG place in third place in the table, and 21st-placed Stoke who according to the numbers should be sat in seventh.

The current xG table in full; Leeds United, 2 Sheffield Wednesday 3 Hull City, 4 Brentford, 5 West Bromwich Albion, 6 Fulham, 7 Stoke City , 8 Preston North End, 9 Millwall, 10 QPR, 11, Middlesbrough, 12 Wigan, Athletic 13 Reading, 14, Derby County, 15 Nottingham Forest, 16 Cardiff City , 17 Swansea City, 18 Bristol City, 19 Birmingham City , 20 Blackburn Rovers, 21 Huddersfield Town, 22 Barnsley, 23 Charlton Athletic, 24 Luton Town

Goal-shy Sheffield Wednesday are positioned well below where their xG rating suggests they should be.