It should come as little surprise that Mohamed Salah was the Premier League’s most clinical scorer in 2017-18, according to Opta’s expected goals (xG) statistic, while Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke languishes at the wrong end of the spectrum.
Expected goals (xG) measures the quality of a chance based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle, distance from goal and whether it was a headed shot.
Adding up a player or team’s expected goals can give us an indication of how many goals a player or team should have scored on average, given the shots they had taken.
According to Opta, Liverpool’s prolific marksman Salah tallied 24.34 xG in the Premier League this season, but netted 32 times for a difference of +7.66.
17 – Mo Salah has scored against 17 different Premier League opponents this season; no player has ever scored against more in a single campaign in the competition. Variety. pic.twitter.com/EAum9Bkex3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 13, 2018
Next best was Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, who improved on his xG figure of 6.53 to hit the back of the net 12 times for the Foxes, a difference of +5.47.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane, the Golden Boot runner-up behind Salah, exceeded his weighty xG of 24.83 by netting 30 goals for Spurs (+5.17).
Sergio Aguero and Robert Firmino completed the top five. The Manchester City striker’s 21 goals saw him beat an xG target of 16.26 by +4.74, while Salah’s Reds colleague Firmino bagged 15 goals, 4.34 more than his xG of +10.66.
Palace, meanwhile, will have been thankful for the exploits of Wilfried Zaha in steering the team away from relegation trouble, Benteke having toiled without notable reward in the final third.
The Belgian striker struck 15 times last season but managed only three league goals in 2017-18, falling well below his xG of 10.2.
Watford’s Richarlison scored five goals to underwhelm in comparison to an xG of 10.28, while Huddersfield Town’s Tom Ince concluded the campaign with two goals, 4.43 less than his xG of 6.43.
Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle (-2.93) and Liverpool youngster Dominic Solanke (-2.49) were also named and shamed in the top five of the league’s least clinical players.
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