This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Bromwich Albion may be heading into the international break sitting top of the Championship table, but recent developments suggest they have actually been overachieving.
Last time out, Slaven Bilic’s resilient side clinched a 1-0 victory at Hull City to open up a two-point gap to those tied in second and third position, namely Preston North End and Leeds United.
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The Baggies have lost just the one match so far this campaign, to the last team mentioned above, but there have been many occasions where they’ve needed some sort of comeback to salvage points.
And the latest Championship xG (expected goals) table from Experimental361 tells a similar story.
After game week 16, West Brom should be sitting sixth in the division, some 18 points behind Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, who should be running away with it by now.
In short, Albion should have won and drawn two fewer matches apiece, meaning they would have picked up four more defeats.
West Brom also should have conceded three more goals on top of the 17 they have let in so far this campaign – it did take Bilic’s men until the ninth week to keep a clean sheet, and since then, they’ve only added three more.
The side should have also scored nearly three fewer goals than the 29 they have netted, which undoubtedly contributes to why they are so low in the xG standings.
That is even despite the likes of Grady Diangana, Matty Phillips, and Matheus Pereira, contributing to 24 goals between them alone, per WhoScored.
Their result over Hull at the weekend further emphasises their poor figures.
Based on the graph above from Experimental361, the Baggies should have lost that game as the home side had done enough to warrant at least one goal, whereas the west Midlanders could only muster up half their xG total.
And that’s where their problem has been all season.
Charlie Austin has fired a dud so far with just one goal in 11 appearances while Kenneth Zohore only has two penalties to his name, and Hal Robson-Kanu failed to even register an attempt at goal on Saturday despite being rewarded with a start after three substitute goals in four games, via WhoScored.
Either way, based on xG alone, West Brom should be lower in the table, which must be a significant cause for concern for Bilic over the next two weeks.
But at the end of the day, they beat Hull and they do indeed sit top of the league. Make of that what you will.