Aston Villa: Impressive xG stat shows Dean Smith has unlocked magic

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Aston Villa's turnaround this season has been nothing short of remarkable.

Boosted by some key additions to improve the spine; from Emi Martinez in goal, through to Ross Barkley in midfield and Ollie Watkins in attack, Dean Smith's side look entirely different to the team who only secured safety on the final day of the season. 

Indeed, an interesting stat has emerged that helps further show their complete turnaround in form. 

While Jack Grealish was largely expected to carry the Villa attack last season, it's not as if their reliance on one player (who led the way in almost every important attacking metric) had them ranking that far down the table. 

According to WhoScored, Villa were 11th for shots on target per 90 last season (3.9), 14th for possession (45.7%) and 10th for shots in the opposition area (6.5). 

So, in an attacking sense, they looked a fairly mid-table team. 

Still, this time out, they seem to have hit a new level. 

As tweeted by xG philosophy, Villa have actually had higher a xG (expected goals) than seven of their eight Premier League opponents thus far. 

Given they've played the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester and high-flying Southampton, that's seriously impressive. In fact, it's only Leeds who recorded higher than them during their meeting. 

Overall, Understat rank the Midlands giants as seventh in the league this season in terms of xG, highlighting how they are largely creating a better quality of chance. 

This is Anfield did hint at a stroke of luck during their famous 7-2 win over Liverpool in October which, in fairness, did see three deflected strikes go in, though this particular stat suggests Villa were worthy winners regardless. 

With their standing in the xG table mirroring their actual position in the division, Villa look genuine challengers for the top six this season.

That, given what happened during their initial return to the Premier League, is quite the turnaround. 

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