OptaPro provides the latest instalment of expected goal leaderboards from across Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues, along with supporting comment from OptaPro data scientist, Sam Gregory.
What stands out immediately when looking at the Premier League leaderboard is how the top performers this year are scoring above their expected goals. Lukaku has scored nearly double as many non-penalty goals as his xG total, and Alexis Sanchez has five more non-penalty goals than xG. This is in line with a league-wide trend, conversion (goals/shots) this season in the Premier League is at 11% the highest rate for any Premier League season going back to 2006-07.
Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leads the league in xG total. His incredibly high rate of 0.23 xG per shot suggests his average opportunity has a little less than a one in four chance of being scored (which aligns with his 26% conversion rate this season). Twenty-one-year-old Timo Werner also stands out with 11.68 xG in his first season at RB Leipzig, perhaps contributing to his German national team debut last month.
As ever Barcelona and Real Madrid players dominate this season’s La Liga xG leaderboard. Although Messi and Suarez scoring at such prolific rates and out performing xG is nothing new, what stands out is Ronaldo’s relatively slower season. He is on pace for his lowest non-penalty goal haul since joining Real Madrid in 2009 and his first season with a non-penalty goal total below his xG total.
In Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence, Edinson Cavani has stepped up as Ligue Un’s most threatening striker. Cavani leads the league in both goals and xG by a large margin; his xG total is almost double that of his closest challenger, striker Bafétimbi Gomis, who is currently on loan from Swansea City. Another interesting note is league-leading Monaco’s two most prolific strikers Radamel Falcao (15 non-penalty goals) and Kylian Mbappe (13 non-penalty goals) trail far behind these leaders on only 7.81 xG and 5.53 xG respectively.
Edin Dzeko’s 23.73 xG is the highest among any striker in Europe’s top five leagues this season. The 31-year-old AS Roma striker is on pace to surpass his career-high league goal tally of 26 from his Wolfsburg days. Dries Mertens’ numbers stand out as well for their similarity to Gonzalo Higuain given the pressure on Mertens to replace the Argentine striker after his move to Juventus this summer.