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Expected Goals Explained - How Does xG Work?

  • Written by David Bet
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In football we think we can predict the outcome in games. In fact, the punter in us probably reckons we can predict the number of goals, goalscorer and timings. Of course, that’s almost impossible, but what isn’t impossible is technology doing it via the increasingly popular Expected Goals (xG) metric. It’s every punters dream and is making betting on the goals market one well worth playing. But what is Expected Goals, how does it work and how can it help you?

What Is Expected Goals?   

Expected Goals, or xG as it’s commonly known, is a metric that helps predict the number of goals a team will score in a match.

The system takes into a large range of data and information to make their prediction. This will factor in a variety of goal scoring trends to produce a figure, which is ultimately the number of goals they’re predicted to score in that game.

The algorithm takes into account both teams in order to come up with a figure, which will usually come in the form of a decimal.

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How Does Expected Goals Work?   

Expected Goals is perfect for using in football betting and uses a very sophisticated algorithm produced by Opta.

Using their own vault of data, which analyses thousands upon thousands of shots taken and goals scored, they take into account players, how the shot was taken, how it was assisted, the angles, distances and much, much more.

Particularly players abilities aren’t taken into account and is purely based on the statistics in the algorithm.

This will then be turned into a number, the number of goals expected to be scored.

For example, let’s use a game between Crystal Palace and Tottenham. xG may place the number of goals for Crystal Palace at 0.32 and Tottenham at 1.05.

This would give the edge to Spurs when it comes to goals scored, and should C.Palace be favourite in the Match Result market, it may be worth finding the value in the away team.

Is It Worth Acknowledging Goals Expected? 

Goals expected is a revolutionary statistic that is certainly worth taking into account when it comes to betting.

It adds science to the predictions and punditry and can generally provide accurate estimations of how a game will go.

The Explained Goals market can help with a wide range of football betting markets, including the following:

Match Result

As mentioned in the example above, the Goals Expected metric can often show a contrast to the match result odds which can help you find value in a market.

You can certainly use it as a statistic to back up or move you away from your initial thoughts.


Obviously it will help you in the goals market, with it being a useful tool when determining whether you should bet on the likes of BTTS and Total Goals, whether that be team or total.

Naturally if two teams are playing each other with high xGs such as 1.70 or 2+, then it’s likely they’re both going to score and well worth dabbling in the BTTS market.

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Why Are Goals Expected Figures Decimals? 

Obviously a team can’t score 0.72 goals in a game, that’s not how football works. But that is how the algorithm works.

You simple have to view it as a case of rounding to the nearest full number. So it Chelsea, for example had an xG of 1.64, their predicted number of goals would be 2.

Equally if they had an xG if 1.22, their predicted number of goals would be just 1.

Things To Note About Goals Expected 

With any kind of metric it isn’t always going to work. You won’t see a profit every single time you use it.

While it is a sophisticated mathematical equation, Football is not. Anything can happen in football, from a player getting sent off in the early stages of a tie, to a goalkeeping error that 99 times out of 100 wouldn’t happen.

Additionally, the stats can get it wrong. Games in which a team is dominant with a number of shots on target without scoring can increase their xG, so it is always good to be wary and use it as a tool to aid your betting rather than one to determine it.

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Where To Play Using xG 

You’ll generally be able to play anywhere with the help of Goals Expected as all major online bookies have the football markets that benefit most from the stats.

The likes of Paddy Power and William Hill have a huge range of goals odds, ideal for playing with this, all of which can be aided even further by a fantastic free bet offer!

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