Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Transfer window: Which Premier League clubs have made the best signings? Expected goals analysis


With the window now shut, Jake Osgathorpe uses the Infogol expected goals (xG) model to analyse the main transfers that went through in the Premier League.


Did Arsenal have a good transfer window?

Arsenal have finally got out from underneath the financial rock that was Mesut Özil, as the German, who was clearly not part of Mikel Arteta’s plans, was allowed to join Fenerbache.

Özil just wasn’t the same player after the 2015/16 season, where he racked up an astonishing 1.11 expected goal involvements (xGI) per 95 minutes (expected goals + expected assists), with his influence waning as the seasons went on.

Mesut Özil’s xGI/95 at Arsenal

Parting ways with him, finally, was a sensible move, especially with the rapid rise of Emile Smith-Rowe and the addition of Martin Ødegaard.

The youth and exuberance of Smith-Rowe has made a huge impact on a sluggish Arsenal team, but the signing of Ødegaard could make a bigger impact.

After struggling for game time at Real Madrid this season, Ødegaard is another player brought in to help with Arsenal’s creative issues – Arteta’s side have averaged just 1.30 non-penalty expected goals for (xGF) per game, while creating only 24 non-pen big chances (35%+).

The Norwegian wonderkid was eye-catching on loan at Real Sociedad last season, averaging 0.39 xGI/95, which betters Smith-Rowe’s average of 0.29 this term; the latter has been raved about.

It should be a fascinating duel between the two as to who secures the starting berth in Arteta’s XI, but one thing is for sure, the Gunners need a creative spark.

In terms of departures, Joe Willock joined Newcastle on loan in a deal that wasn’t surprising given the addition of another attacking midfielder, but the decision to allow Ainsley Maitland-Niles to leave on loan is an odd one.

He joins a West Brom side who have been hopeless this season, but having played at full back a fair bit this term, it seems odd that Arsenal have let him go given their shortage in that area.

Kieran Tierney has struggled with injuries of late, and Sean Kolasinac has returned to Germany, leaving them with just Cedric Soares and Hector Bellerin as options.

What type of midfielder is Morgan Sanson?

Morgan Sanson has joined Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s recruitment this past summer has proven to be sensational from back to front, with Emi Martinez, Matty Cash, Ross Barkley, Bertrand Traore and Ollie Watkins all being big hits.

In January they signed just one player, parting with a reported £14m to acquire French midfielder Morgan Sanson from Marseille.

Based on the numbers, it appears they may have completed another piece of excellent business, with his profile very similar to the on-loan Barkley.

Despite playing in a poor Marseille team, Sanson has averaged 0.38 xGI/95 this term, a very similar figure to Barkley at Chelsea last season (0.39).

Barkley’s numbers have significantly improved in a Villa team who are near the summit of every attacking metric, with the Englishman now averaging 0.59 xGI/95, so I expect to see something similar with Sanson.

He is used to playing either side of a pivot in a midfield three and does like to drift into wider areas, which could increase the overloads Villa already create.

Let's not be too quick to judge, though, as this signing could well be one for next season, especially if Villa don't sign Barkley permanently.

Can Takumi Minamino flourish at Southampton?

Takumi Minamino celebrates for Liverpool

Southampton are extremely light on the ground in terms of numbers, and even more so after they saw two red cards against Manchester United in their astonishing 9-0 loss, so bodies were needed.

They have taken Liverpool's Takumi Minamino on loan for the rest of the season, a player who joined the Reds with a great deal of promise.

It is understandably difficult to force your way into the Liverpool starting XI as a forward, though, given their famed front three, but you can at least apply pressure and give confidence to Jurgen Klopp that, if one is missing, he has someone to rely upon.

Before his injury Diogo Jota did just that; Minamino has not.

He has played limited minutes (643), granted, but his underlying numbers just aren’t good enough to warrant more game time at Anfield, averaging 0.26 xGI/95 since joining the champions last January.

The Japanese forward should suit Southampton’s playing style, and he should get more regular game time, so I expect Ralph Hasenhüttl to help him find his form, whether as a striker or wide player in the Austrian’s 4-4-2 system.

How good are Josh King and Josh Maja?

Josh King joined Everton on deadline day

There was a deadline-day tussle for Josh King between Everton and Fulham, with both in desperate need of attacking reinforcements.

Everton’s attacking issues are something that do need to be discussed in more detail. It has been six league games since the Toffees registered an xGF total of more than 1.0, and since October's 2-2 draw with Liverpool left them top of the league, they have averaged just 1.04 xGF per game.

A defensive minded shift has contributed to that poor process, but Carlo Ancelotti was clearly thinking that he needs to inject some more competition for his forward line, who know they are guaranteed starters given the drop off in quality in their squad.

King has played limited minutes (675) in the Sky Bet Championship this season, but has hardly stood out, failing to register a goal or an assist. He has, however, been getting on the end of chances (0.22 xG/95) and creating them (0.12 xA/95).

In a struggling Bournemouth team last term, King was a standout player, and if he can recapture that form for Everton (0.49 xGI/95), his signing could prove to be a good bit of business.

Fulham were beaten out by the Toffees for King’s signature, and instead signed former Sunderland forward Josh Maja from Bordeaux.

Maja impressed in Ligue 1 last season, despite his limited minutes (742), averaging 0.41 xG/95 and 0.13 xA/95, but he has struggled since becoming a more regular starter (0.24 xG, 0.03 xA/95).

He is still young and a work in progress, but he strikes me as the sort of player that fits Scott Parker’s system well, as he would be interchangeable with Ivan Cavaleiro and Ademola Lookman.

King would have been the better of the two options, but Maja appears a decent second choice.

Liverpool make defensive reinforcements

Something you may have seen written on site over the last few weeks is that Liverpool’s underlying numbers since Virgil van Dijk’s injury have been very strong.

The Reds boast the third-best defensive process in the Premier League since the Dutchman was felled by Jordan Pickford’s horror challenge, allowing an average of 1.04 expected goals against (xGA) per game, a tally bettered by only Manchester City (0.55) and Chelsea (0.96).

xGA per game since Virgil van Dijk's injury

That suggests that their make-shift backline comprising of numerous different partnerships has done a sensational job, but even before Joel Matip also succumbed to a potentially season-ending injury, they needed more bodies in central defence.

Fabinho has been one of the players to find himself at centre-back, and he has done a fantastic job, but when he plays there, Liverpool miss him in the centre of midfield. The same can be said for Jordan Henderson.

Late in the window, the Reds swooped for Preston's Ben Davies on a permanent deal, as well as loaning young Schalke defender Ozan Kabak with an option to buy.

Kabak is a promising player, and although he has been playing for the worst team in the Bundesliga this season (2.13 xGA per game), he could thrive in a better set-up.

Mateta to the rescue for Palace

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson

Jean-Philippe Mateta’s signing was excellently timed by Crystal Palace, as they look to improve their attacking process and become a much more attractive team to watch.

Wilfried Zaha’s injury sustained at Newcastle means Mateta could get thrown in to the starting line-up very soon, and that should be exciting for Palace fans, as the Frenchman was having a standout season for struggling Mainz.

Despite his side being in a relegation battle, Mateta was a constant attacking threat, racking up a huge 0.77 xG/95, while also contributing 0.12 xA/95.

Only Robert Lewandowski (1.01 xG/95), Andre Silva (0.86) Nicolas Gonzalez (0.84) and Erling Haaland (0.78) have been getting on the end of good chances at a better rate.

Expected Goals per 95 (xG/95) leaders | Bundesliga 20/21

In fact, Mateta was responsible for 41% of Mainz’s total xGF this term, a bigger share than Zaha has contributed to Palace’s xGF (38%), so he could well fill the void left by the injury-stricken Ivorian.

It isn’t like for like, but Mateta should certainly have a positive impact on Palace’s attack, and it will be exciting to see how the two play together.

Hammers fail to sign a back-up striker

West Ham manager David Moyes gestures

I wrote in detail last week about West Ham’s issue at the striker position, and their heavy reliance on Michail Antonio after the departure of Sebastien Haller.

Their numbers with and without Antonio are a complete contrast and given how injury prone he has proven to be over the last few seasons, the fact that they didn’t sign a back-up striker this window was hugely surprising.

It is extremely concerning, and perhaps shows a lack of intent from the Hammers.

They are in a position to challenge for European football but are now just an injury away from that charge potentially stalling, as while Haller didn’t prove to be as good as Antonio, he was still a solid striker.

Their chances of a top-six finish were already slim given the strength of teams in behind them, but it could be that the Hammers regret not going in for a centre forward in this window.


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