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The Hero ISL State of The Season Address


Season 5 of the Hero Indian Super League is in full flow and I think it's finally time to start looking at some performance metrics to benchmark the teams. If you've been living under a rock, there's a stat called Expected Goals and I have my own model to calculate this for Indian football games.


Expected goals helps us with identify underlying patterns or trends in the way a team is playing and allows us to identify which teams "deserved" their results. We can use the Expected Goals created and conceded in each game to assign an Expected Goal Difference and Expected Points won for that game. We can then compare these numbers to the actuals and find out which team is over/under-performing.


When we look at the Expected Goals Created and Conceded and compare it to last year, we can see some interesting insights, but I'll leave that to you.


So moving on ahead, from the below graph it's clear to see that there's not much variation between actual and expected for most teams except Chennaiyin FC and Delhi Dynamos. Kerala's draw with Jamshedpur last night was interesting as Kerala edged in the xG race and it's now 3 draws from winnable games.


Chennaiyin FC


Chennaiyin FC have been the most dominant team after FC Goa, so far this year. I know what that sounds like but, the context of their games are a fascinating case study and you can draw a lot of parallels with Germany at the World Cup. With Chennai usually going an early goal or two behind and then huffing and puffing to try and equalise, you would expect their xG created to trend downwards. What we actually see is them creating more chances than their opponents in each game.


It's very easy to say that the opponents are sitting back and letting them play because they are a goal up but the fact is that Chennai still consistently create chances. But the fact is that the opponents sit back to prevent Chennai from creating chances but Chennai still do. So, have their opponent done a bad job of limiting chances or are Chennai just unlucky? (Still haven't made my mind up on this one)


Delhi Dynamos


Unlike Chennaiyin, Delhi have not been out xG-ing their opponents and generally do not respond well to being asked to play in front of a packed defence. Delhi's problems are both in creating + converting chances and in restricting their opponents from converting. For a "possession based team", Delhi struggle to keep more than 50% possession on average and as a result, their opponents get multiple chances to break at them.


Delhi will either need to work on ball retention or try to retreat towards their goal and break with pace but that would probably require dropping Kaludjerovic (he's almost in danger of under-performing). From the first graph in this post, you'll also notice that Delhi are performing much worse in attack than last year - and I'm not just talking about conversion.


Northeast United


Eelco Schattorie's Northeast United have been the surprise package of this year's Indian Super League. The Highlanders are unbeaten at the time of writing but as I mentioned on Twitter, there are plenty of red flags (see Chance Quality picture below) over theirs and the incredible Bartholomew Ogbeche.


Kerala Blasters


During the television broadcast of the Jamshedpur vs Blasters game, the commentators kept mentions how the Blasters were good in attack because they create a lot of chances. That is true, they create a lot of chances but the bulk of these are low quality, largely due to their style of play. So basically, Kerala are NOT very good in attack.


Kerala are still a very, very good team, overall. The reason for that, however, is their defence. Only BFC have conceded fewer chance and watching Kerala Blasters, it is very hard to find a way through that packed defence. If you commit too many men, the Blasters can be quick to get up the pitch with the energy and movement of Poplatnik & Sahal.

The average Expected Goals per Shot shows the problems Kerala Blasters & Northeast United face in attack.

Anyway, now that we've gotten a handle of where the teams are at the moment, it's time to look at where they will go. Fair warning, we're only 5 games in and there's not enough home and away matches for teams so the predictions are a little off.


In my opinion, I think Jamshedpur and Pune probably switch places in the below graphs and also I think it's a little harsh on Northeast, they've definitely got a shot, it's just that their chance creation metrics are really poor and my model doesn't like them at all :( .


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