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Lethal: Ranking the five most ruthless sides in front of goal so far this season

There’s nothing quite like cold, hard statistical evidence to back up a footballing debate and we are no different when it comes to crunching the numbers regarding Premier League sides.

Following the opening eight fixtures of the campaign we’ve decided to delve into some of the best statistics from the season so far, using Goals Scored – xG to look at the teams who have been the most clinical in and around goal.

Expected goals (xG) measures the quality of a shot based on several variables including shot angle and distance from goal, and these clubs have overachieved when it comes to opportunities they would reasonably be expected to score.

Taking chances is an essential part of any side’s play and these five clubs have thrived in attacking situations during the current campaign, here are the five most ruthless sides in front of goal so far this season:

Crystal Palace – 4.3

GF: 12, xG: 7.7

Crystal Palace have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign under Roy Hodgson and currently sit eighth in the division ahead of the international break, a side which has long prided itself on defensive organisation having added a touch of attacking impetus over the summer.

Wilfried Zaha is largely responsible for the Eagles’ impressive rating after enjoying a new lease of life in a centre-forward role, the Ivorian having scored five league goals in just eight appearances to date.

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Palace have scored 12 goals so far this season and their position in the top half comes despite an xG of just 7.7 goals, the fifth-lowest in the division with three of the sides below them – Burnley, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United – currently mired in the relegation places.

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Leicester 4.3

GF: 18, xG 13.7

Sitting level with Crystal Palace are league leaders Leicester, the Foxes having enjoyed another brilliant beginning to the campaign to sit top of the Premier League at present.

Leicester have won six of their opening eight league fixtures and have the third-highest xG of all sides in the division behind only Liverpool and Tottenham, though they have been clinical with the chances that have come their way scoring 18 times – with Jamie Vardy jointly-leading the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot on eight goals.

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However, Leicester’s quality of chances has been increased by a staggering eight penalties awarded to Brendan Rodgers’ side already this season, scoring seven and missing one.

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Aston Villa 6.1

GF: 18, xG 11.9

Aston Villa have enjoyed a resurgence this season following a series of shrewd summer signings, last season’s relegation candidates now looking upwards towards European qualification.

Only Chelsea and Tottenham have scored more goals than Villa’s 18 so far this season, a tally boosted by last weekend’s 3-0 thrashing of Arsenal and that 7-2 humbling of champions Liverpool at Villa Park.

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Those clinics in finishing have helped Villa score over six more goals than would have been predicted using xG, their impressive statistics boosted by a strong start from club-record signing Ollie Watkins, the summer acquisition from Brentford scoring six times in seven league appearances.

Villa’s stats are further boosted by a tally of four goals from outside the box, more than any other side in the division.

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Chelsea 7.3

GF: 20, xG: 12.7

Frank Lampard has regularly called for Chelsea to be more ‘clinical’ last season and reacted to his lack of faith in the club’s attacking options with a summer splurge on a host of talent, bringing in additional firepower in the form of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

That increase in attacking quality has seen Chelsea become the highest-scoring side in the Premier League so far this season and compile the joint-best goals scored to xG record, scoring 20 times from an expected goals figure of just 12.7.

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Timo Werner leads the charge on four league goals with the likes of Kurt Zouma, Jorginho, Ben Chilwell and Tammy Abraham having all scored more than once, Chelsea’s ruthlessness in front of goal – coupled with an improving defensive record – raising optimism success could be heading to Stamford Bridge.

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Southampton 7.3

GF: 16, xG: 8.7

Leading the charge alongside Chelsea in terms of goalscoring overachievement is Southampton, who have scored 16 times this season despite an xG figure of just 8.7.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have performed brilliantly to sit in the Champions League places heading into November’s international break, responding from opening the season with back-to-back losses to win five times and draw once in their past six league fixtures.

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Southampton’s impressive rating has been boosted by a five-goal return from last season’s top scorer Danny Ings, who has averaged a goal every three shots in the Premier League this season.

James Ward-Prowse’s set-piece expertise – including two fabulous free-kicks against Aston Villa – have further contributed to Southampton’s statistics with their clinical record, coupled with the fourth-best expected Goals Against figure, a source of huge encouragement for the Saints’ supporters.

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