Knutson explains two reasons why Liverpool surprisingly finished behind Man City on expected goals

Date published: Sunday 9th August 2020 2:51 - Matthew Briggs

Jurgen Klopp TEAMtalk

Respected stats man Ted Knutson says Liverpool “have stuff going on that is beyond” the ever popular expected goals (xG) model.

Jurgen Klopp’s men surged to their first Premier League title and first top-flight title for 30 years. In fact they blew the field away with a winning margin of 18 points.

That was on the back of the 2018/19 season in which they came up just short, losing out to Man City by just a point.

However, it was City who should have followed up last seasons title with another title this season, and by 12 points, according to xG.

In fact the Reds should have had 39 points fewer over the two seasons in which they have recorded the second and fourth-best Premier League seasons ever.

The results have led Statsbomb co-founder Knutson to question whether Klopp has exposed the limits of xG.

American Knutson, who established Brentford’s analytics-based approach, told The Guardian: “You can put the difference down to having really great talent.



“Having a great goalkeeper like Alisson will help you give up fewer goals. Part of it is a little bit of luck. But I think there’s stuff Liverpool do that’s not in the expected goals model.

“I’m not going to be specific about that but at a certain point when you have had the second and fourth-best Premier League seasons ever and the expected goals models don’t really reflect that, maybe you’ve got some stuff going on that is beyond the model.

“Part of [improving the model] is trying to make the data a bit better all the time to reflect that. City I think scored 102 goals and had 35 against but they were blowing out teams. They always keep their foot on the gas. The depth City had coming off the bench during the restart was just insane.”

‘Liverpool learned how to manage games’

Adam Lallana James Milner Jordan Henderson Andrew Robertson Liverpool TEAMtalk

“Liverpool, as good as they are, they don’t have that. So they have learned over the last few years to be able to manage games. Once they get that second goal, especially, they defend well but probably don’t spend so much time exhausting themselves on the pressing side of it.

“I think those two things are reflected in that table. Liverpool do not always put their foot on the gas. But it’s also a little bit how the data and the models don’t reflect some of the edges that they have found and been able to exploit.”

Statsbomb act as consultants for a number of Premier League clubs, as well as Paris St-Germain and Knutson says good analysis of data is hugely beneficial. And while he points to Liverpool’s impressive game management, he also says Klopp’s men simply “don’t make mistakes”.

He added:  “At club level it’s clearly difference in execution [that matters].

“Some clubs are able to get things done and others end up mired in politics behind the scenes. The execution, even with better data, is what’s going to mark out the elite teams from those who are not. That’s really what separated Liverpool – they don’t make mistakes.”

READ MORE: Klopp divulges Liverpool squad thinking for next season


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