‘Not sustainable over the long run’ – Why League One ‘expected goals’ table doesn’t make good reading for Ipswich Town

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 November 2020

Oli Hawkins fires over at Lincoln. Ipswich Town haven't created too many clear cut goalscoring chances of late. Photo: Pagepix

Oli Hawkins fires over at Lincoln. Ipswich Town haven't created too many clear cut goalscoring chances of late. Photo: Pagepix

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It’s often said that there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

Ipswich keeper Tomas Holy makes a close-range save in the 1-0 home win against Crewe - a game Town rode their luck in. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich keeper Tomas Holy makes a close-range save in the 1-0 home win against Crewe - a game Town rode their luck in. Photo: Steve Waller

With that in mind, it’s up to you how much you read into a re-worked League One table which shows where teams would be based on ‘expected goals’.

‘Expected goals’ are worked out by the quality of chances created and conceded by each team rather than their actual goal tally.

It’s not an exact science, but they can give a reasonable indication as to whether a team is performing better or worse than their results suggest.

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This is the adjusted League One table based on 'expected goals' - and it doesn't make for good reading for Ipswich Town. Photo: Experimental361.comThis is the adjusted League One table based on 'expected goals' - and it doesn't make for good reading for Ipswich Town. Photo: Experimental361.com

Ipswich Town are currently third in the actual League One table with seven wins, one draw and three defeats to their name. The ‘expected goals’ table - produced by experimental361.com - has Paul Lambert’s men down in 13th spot, 10 places and eight points worse off.

According to these stats, the Blues have scored six goals more than their chances created would normally average. And they’ve conceded four goals less than their chances conceded would normally average.

Only Charlton (-13 points) are ‘over-achieving’ by a greater margin in League One, judging by this table.

The seven teams Town have beaten are 24th, 23rd, 21st, 20th, 12th, 11th and 10th in the ‘expected goals’ table. The teams they have dropped points against are 2nd, 5th, 7th and 9th.

These graphics show that, on average, Ipswich Town have had the oldest team in League One so far this season. Photo: Experimental361.comThese graphics show that, on average, Ipswich Town have had the oldest team in League One so far this season. Photo: Experimental361.com

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Explaining the method, website author Ben Mayhew writes: “As the expected goals model isn’t perfect, we can’t use these tables to say with certainty that a given team has been lucky (or unlucky) but it’s safe to say that significant differences tend not to be sustainable over the long run.”

Experimental361.com has also worked out the average age of League One teams based on the league minutes played by every player. Ipswich have the oldest average age team so far at 28.3, something that goes against manager Paul Lambert’s oft used assertion that he has a young side.

Another set of graphs shows that Ipswich had the least significant squad churn over the recent Covid-19 affected transfer window, with very few major ins and outs at Portman Road compared to others in the third-tier.

This graphic shows that Ipswich Town had the least significant 'squad churn' out of all League One clubs during the Covid-19 affected 2020 summer transfer window. Photo: Experimental361.comThis graphic shows that Ipswich Town had the least significant 'squad churn' out of all League One clubs during the Covid-19 affected 2020 summer transfer window. Photo: Experimental361.com

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