Once upon a time, the only metrics that really mattered to the pre and post-game analysis were goals and assists, and possibly you could expect corners to be taken into account as well. Of course, for anyone who has been keeping up with match analysis in the past couple of years, it’s clear that this is no longer the case.
Nowadays, analysts and bookmakers use deep data insights to produce entirely new types of metrics that are used to analyze player performance in a more detailed way than ever before. Football clubs who operate on smaller budgets are now turning to a more data-driven recruitment process, by using as much information as possible to uncover a hidden gem before the bigger clubs do.
Analytics such as these play a crucial role during transfer season, as well as in the calculations of the bookies that you use to place your footie bets. Here’s your breakdown of the football metrics that matter in 2021.
This one is probably the most important metric in football today, one that plays a crucial role in calculating the latest football betting odds at platforms like bet365. It also gives people more options when it comes to betting, such as the number of shots a team will have on target. xG, or expected goals, is applied on a shot-by-shot basis to assess the quality of an attempted goal. It looks at various factors such as distance, shot angle, and assist type to determine the numerical odds of a shot being converted into a goal. When evaluating player odds, their xG for the preceding season is often used to give a specific figure.
Much like xG, xA, or expected assists, is frequently used in high-quality post-match analysis on the likes of the BBC. As you might have guessed already, this is a number that aims to signify that a given pass will go onto to become an actual goal assist. It uses factors such as the length of the pass, the end-point of the pass, and the type of pass in order to specifically calculate the likelihood that the pass could have or would have been a successful assist. It measures the quality of a player’s passing ability, rather than the actual number of assists.
Used extensively by the leading sports analytics platforms, such as Opta, the key pass is another metric that aims to give a reliable picture of the kinds of opportunities that players are able to generate for their teammates. It is similar to xA, in that it focuses specifically on assists. However, the key pass calculation specifically looks at passes that did not translate into goals, without necessarily taking into account successful assists.
Finally, there are the analytics that looks specifically at where goals, assists, and attempted goals and assists were taken from on the pitch. The benefit of this knowledge is obvious, especially from the perspective of managers and coaches. If you know the exact percentage of successful shots that are taken from, say, inside the six-yard box or outside the 18-yard box, then you can calibrate your strategy and your players accordingly.
Although the proliferation of ever more ways to measure the prowess of players might seem tiring to some, it is helping to make football a true precision sport.