Who is HOT?
No change at the top of this HOT and COLD column, with both teams who were HOT last week remain there this week.
A trip to Brighton could have, on paper, provided a problem for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, but City were utterly dominant from start to finish in a 4-1 thrashing, again looking good at both ends of the pitch (xG: BHA 1.28 – 3.31 MCI).
They remain top of the expected points (xPoints) table and they lead the league in terms of xGA per game, allowing just 0.74. They are the only team that is averaging less than 1.0 xGA per game this season.
If they continue to allow chances at that rate, they won’t lose many matches this season.
Crystal Palace are in town this weekend, and while they have looked better in attack this season, a City win in a shutout looks the most likely outcome given the numbers.
*inserts opening line from last week’s column*
‘Is there any stopping Liverpool’s attack?’
That answer still appears to be a big fat NO.
The Reds went to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, an admittedly poor defence, and blew their rivals away in a 5-0 success.
Mohamed Salah was the main man yet again, netting a hat-trick, but Liverpool as a team racked up 3.57 xGF.
Klopp’s men are now averaging 2.93 xGF per game, and have scored two or more in 11 of 12 games across the Premier League and Champions League this season.
Best of luck on your trip to Anfield this weekend, Brighton.
Who is WARM?
Are West Ham now a legit top four contender?
Yes, they only beat Spurs last weekend, but the manner of the victory and the control they had was excellent – the Hammers didn’t concede a single shot in the second-half.
The worrying thing for the rest of the league is that, while they caused an upset by deservedly finishing sixth last season, David Moyes’s side are actually better this season according to the data.
The Hammers create more than enough chances on a regular basis (1.87 xGF per game) to seriously trouble a weak-looking Aston Villa backline on Sunday.
Who is COOL?
Since beating Manchester United, Aston Villa have lost three straight games, and deservedly so.
Dean Smith’s side have been second best in all three, looking incredibly vulnerable defensively by allowing xGA figures of 1.92, 2.03 and 3.23 in that time.
Their defence is a concern, and their attacking process of 1.05 non-pen xGF per game ranks the fourth worst in the division.
Villa are still having issues finding a formula post-Jack Grealish, and the switch in system isn’t having the desired effect.
They face the third best attacking team in the league this weekend too, hosting West Ham, so a fourth straight loss could be on the cards.
Can it get any worst for Manchester United?
They were humiliated by Liverpool at Old Trafford last weekend, looking incredibly bad defensively once again, something that is becoming a bit of a trend (xG: MUN 1.32 – 3.57 LIV).
The Red Devils conceded twice in the Champions League prior to that game, and shipped four against Leicester.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are allowing an average of 1.71 xGA per game in the league this term, with only six teams allowing more, so something has to change.
The reason they will remain in and around the European places all season is their attack. They average 1.74 xGF per game which ranks as the fifth best in the league.
However, there is discontent in the squad, and their visit to Tottenham this weekend has to be seen as a must-win.
Spurs lost 1-0 to West Ham last weekend, but the scoreline was misleading, as Nuno’s side failed to register a single shot in the second half of that match, losing the xG battle 0.85 – 0.00 after the break.
The issues for Tottenham come at both ends of the pitch.
They concede too many good chances (1.75 xGA per game), and aren’t creating anywhere near enough to offset that (1.11 xGF per game).
In fact, only Leeds and Norwich have created fewer non-penalty big chances (0.35 xG+) than Spurs this season.
When you factor in the quality of some of their individuals in forward areas in particular, those figures do not reflect well on Nuno at all.
Fortunately for Spurs’s attack, they face a Manchester United team this weekend who look equally as porous defensively.
Who is COLD?
Post-Steve Bruce, and it was more of the same for Newcastle.
Against Crystal Palace last weekend, they created a few decent chances but looked incredibly vulnerable in defence (xG: CRY 2.38 – 0.99 NEW).
They were incredibly fortunate to escape that game with a point, and that defensive display now means that, through nine games of the campaign, Newcastle are allowing over 2.0 xGA per game.
That is a figure we expect to see from a team that gets relegated.
To make matters worst, they host a Chelsea team on Saturday who just put seven past the team who rank only slightly worst than them on defensive metrics.
I am struggling to say anything positive about Norwich.
Their 7-0 loss to Chelsea was embarrassing, the performance more than the result.
It means the Canaries are still winless having collected just two points from nine games. They have only scored twice as well.
Daniel Farke’s side continue to sit dead last or second last on every ranking metric, in both attack and defence.
The host an out-of-sorts Leeds side on Sunday, the only team to have created fewer non-pen big chances (0.35 xG+) than them, which should give them a tiny bit of hope of getting a result.