That’s right – despite sitting outside the relegation zone with two points from four games, Cardiff City are under performing in the Premier League. That’s according to the stats, anyway.

We take a look at what the stats say about Cardiff’s season so far and ponder how much we can read into them.

The current table

Premier League table

Everybody seemed to predict Cardiff to finish bottom of the Premier League table this year, but the City have so far proved that they can be competitive. Despite four games without a win, two points and two clean sheets is highly encouraging.

What’s also encouraging is that Neil Warnock’s men deserved at least a point against Arsenal, a match they lost 3-2.

What expected goals (xG) say

A tweet from Simon Gleave, Head Analyst at GraceNote Sports, will have interested a number of Cardiff City fans. He tweeted their research into the Premier League’s expected goals (xG) and how the table should look based on this statistic.

For those who don’t know, xG is a stat calculated based on the quality of chances created. In layman terms, it suggests how many goals you should score based on how good the chances you’ve created are.

There’s also xGA (expected goals against), which does the same but considers the quality of chances against your side.

Looking at Simon’s table above, we can see that Cardiff’s expected points total after four games, based on the quality of chances for and against the Bluebirds is five points – three more than they currently have.

What can we read into this?

Well, it depends how optimistic you want to be really. People that view things with a glass half empty will argue that this is a meaningless stat as only goals scored and points actually gained count towards your final position come May.

That’s true, of course, but we can use stats like xG and xGA to understand how a team are truly playing. Simon’s table and Cardiff’s expected points tally suggests that the Bluebirds are creating good quality chances, whilst also limiting the quality chances against their own goal.

Two clean sheets certainly quantifies the latter, whilst the feeling among Cardiff fans is that if the club had signed a good quality striker, we would have won a couple of games by now.

What Simon says

View From The Ninian’s very own Paul Stollery got in touch with Simon to clarify exactly what this meant for Cardiff. Here’s the exchange.

PS: Just before I quote RT this, want to make sure. This is good news for Cardiff right? Suggests they are tight at the back, creating chances, but ultimately missing them? (Am Cardiff fan, and just double checking I’m not getting it completely backwards.)

SG: This only suggests that a draw against Arsenal and win against Huddersfield were more realistic results based on the chances in those matches than the results which actually happened. The other 2 matches came out as expected.

PS: Ah ok, got it. Thanks for the clarification.

Simon Lucey (joined the conversation): It’s sounds like he is saying everything is definitely going to be ok for Cardiff.
SG: I am saying nothing of the sort. Cardiff look reasonable on this measure but it isn’t perfect and West Brom went down with decent numbers last season. It is also incredibly early days and Cardiff’s opponents haven’t been the toughest.
You can view the thread here.

Summary

Can we read too much into this? Possibly, possibly not. What I do think we can take from these stats is that Cardiff are performing better than many pundits or opposition fans predicted (or will give us credit for).

Cardiff City need to start converting chances into goals, but it is encouraging for Warnock, his players and fans alike that we are creating quality chances. We’re going in the right direction.