Football has changed a lot over recent years. Gone are the days that clubs would send a scout to watch a player, write a report on him, and the club would then choose whether or not they want to pursue him.
Nowadays there is so much money on the line, that most clubs do all everything they can to ensure that the player is the right fit for the club, and won’t become one of football’s famous flops.
To do this, clubs use data. And lots of it. Thanks to technology, clubs will have almost instant access to every statistic imaginable on any player across the world.
And with the increased use of technology and data comes a load of confusing terminology. One of those is xG.
You’ll have probably never even heard of xG until the past few years, and that’s ok.
This year, after months of speculation, Sports Interactive has introduced XG to Football Manager 2021. If you’ve not purchased FM21 yet, you can use our discount link to get it for just £29.99.
What is xG On Football Manager 21?
In short, ‘xG’ stands for ‘expected goals’.
To put it simply, xG gives a score to every goalscoring chance, on the likelihood of that chance resulting in a goal. For example, an open goal from four yards out will get a really high XG score, while a header from 25 yards will get a low one.
So, you may see a chance described as having an xG rating of 0.2, and that means a player would be expected to score from the chance 20% of the time – a one in five chance. And If a chance has a 0.8xG it should be scored 80% of the time.
Analysts then use players’ and clubs’ xG score and compare it to the actual number of goals scored, to identify whether they are under or overachieving.
This video by Opta perfectly describes what xG is:
A great example of xG is West Ham United’s 2015/16 season. They finished in seventh place in the Premier League and scored 65 goals from an xG of 54.4 and conceded 51 from an xG of 55.48. So essentially, with the quality of chances they had, they were expected to score 54, but managed 65. And they only conceded 51 when the quality of opponent’s chances meant they should have realistically conceded 55.
That resulted in The Hammers picking up 61 points from an expected tally of 49.8 according to xG.
But how? Well, in 2015/2016, West Ham had Dimitri Payet. A player capable of scoring from absolutely anywhere. Payet’s brilliance in the 2015/16 season saw him scoring goals from absolutely nothing. From places on the pitch where the likelihood of scoring was really low. He scored goals when they simply shouldn’t have scored.
Hammers’ fans had every right to be delighted with that season, but xG showed that unless they could keep scoring from outrageous positions, that it may have been a one off. And unless Payet and co. continued to defy the odds, they would be set for a much worse season next season.
And that’s what happened. West Ham ended the next campaign closer to their expected goals tally. They managed to escape relegation with 49 points, with an expected points tally of 48.
xG had shown that their 2015/2016 season was unsustainable, largely due to freak goals and results. And that turned out to be the case.
Another example was when Arsenal signed Marouane Chamakh. Remember him?
Chamakh bagged 11 goals in 22 for Arsenal in 2010 and scored in six Champions League games in a row. But he all of a sudden went off the boil and his career crashed from then on.
When Chamakh began misfiring, Arsene Wenger was shown Chamakh’s xG rating at Bordeaux, and it was really low. He had been taking a lot of shots from bad positions. He was a striker that was not expected to score many goals. His form in 2010 was nothing other than a purple patch. A lucky period.
The Chamakh we saw after that start at Arsenal was a true reflection of his ability, according to his career xG stats.
Once Wenger was shown the data by StatDNA, he admitted he’d have never signed Chamakh if he’d had that data presented to him before. He then sanctioned for Arsenal to acquire the stat company StatDNA following this revelation.
Love it or hate it, xG is here to stay, and it’s a part of Football Manager 21. So use it to your advantage, lads.