Analysis: How is each Premier League team shaping up so far?
With the final international break of the year upon us and around a third of the Premier League season completed, it is a good time to review how the English top flight is shaping up.
We've calculated the expected goals value of every chance created this season and compared it with the record of each club and player to identify whose performances may be unsustainable, and where the value in the Premier League odds may be.
Premier League outright winner
Manchester City look to be deserving of their place at the Premier League summit, having already created chances worth 20 goals more than their opponents over their first 12 games. In terms of betting, the 16/1 available for a still unbeaten Chelsea side to overtake the reigning champions feels like far better value than the 9/2 available for Liverpool to end their wait for a Premier League title.
Maurizio Sarri's Blues have looked stronger than the Reds at both ends of the pitch. While Jurgen Klopp could argue that his team have had tougher fixtures so far, having played three of the 'big six' away from home, they have also faced five bottom-half teams at home to Chelsea's two.
Premier League top-four finish
With Liverpool and Chelsea looking likely to join leaders Manchester City in the final top four, that only leaves one Champions League slot up for grabs if a diminished Tottenham were to vacate it.
While their north London rivals Arsenal are currently 5/4 to secure a return to the top four, the data suggests the Gunners have been flattering to deceive so far.
Unai Emery's side have created and allowed chances of surprisingly similar quality overall, with their edge coming from having netted 26 goals from around 16 expected goals' worth of opportunities. This does not feel like a sustainable pattern and we therefore expect them to fall away if they don't start to carve out better chances.
While Wolves and Bournemouth have both looked genuinely impressive so far, their respective records against the division's top teams suggests that Spurs should be able to hold their ground in fourth place, barring any seismic changes.
Premier League relegation
While Cardiff remain favourites for the drop at 4/9, there is plenty of hope for the Bluebirds. Having already played each member of the current top six once, their remaining fixtures will be easier on average than their rivals, plus their underlying performances suggest a fairer goal difference would be closer to -5 than their actual -14.
Another team we would recommend avoiding in the relegation betting is Southampton, who look to have been more unlucky than poor so far. Despite only scoring eight goals, the data suggests that the average team would have scored around twice as many from the same chances. With Saints yet to face any of the current bottom three, they should have plenty of opportunities to redress the balance before the turn of the year.
The biggest overachievers among the Premier League's relegation-threatened teams so far are Brighton, whose 14 points represent a huge departure from their underlying performances, which have been the third worst in the division.
While the cushion they have built up could prove decisive, their current price of 8/1 could be slashed if reality catches up with them over a tough winter schedule that sees them face four of the 'big six' in the space of a month.
If the Seagulls continue to defy gravity or you're looking for value in a shorter price, then a Burnley demise at 11/10 looks like a reasonable alternative. The Clarets have been defying expected goals for almost as long as Sean Dyche has been at the helm, but their bubble finally looks to have burst.
With the worst expected goals difference in the Premier League, a return to the Championship looks likely.
Premier League top goalscorer
Sergio Aguero is the clear favourite to claim the Golden Boot at 9/4 and we cannot find any fault in that logic. His seven non-penalty goals have been notched from around 6.8 goals' worth of chances, so his strike rate is very much in line with expectations. Penalties are often removed from goalscoring comparisons as they occur relatively randomly.
Looking at the rest of the field, the 5/1 available for Mohamed Salah to overtake Aguero feels the most generous for those looking at either an outside or each-way bet.
With Pep Guardiola's Manchester City likely to go deep in multiple competitions, combined with Aguero's age, the Argentinian's incredibly capable understudy Gabriel Jesus will surely start to feature more heavily as the season wears on.
Salah has also been underachieving slightly so far, with five non-penalty goals from almost enough chances to yield six, so the Egyptian is perhaps overdue a hot streak.
Callum Wilson's free-scoring start for Bournemouth has looked sufficiently impressive in the data to warrant consideration as an each-way bet for those not put off by his 33/1 price. His healthy expected goals tally so far suggests that reaching the 20-goal mark isn't beyond him this season, and with Harry Kane still seemingly suffering the effects of last season's injury, there is room for a challenger to emerge.
One player we would recommend avoiding is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose early scoring streak has powered Arsenal's hot start.
Like Aguero he has struck seven non-penalty goals but from little over three goals' worth of opportunities, which is unlikely to be sustainable over a whole season and we therefore expect his challenge to fade.
Acca Bonus up to 100% - Place a treble or higher across any sport and if it wins, we'll boost your winnings in cash. Remember to check that all your selections are higher than 1.50 (1/2). T&Cs apply.