With a quarter of the season remaining the title race looks to be sewn up. Manchester United will need to throw away a lot of points to not regain their Premier League crown and City look comfortable in second. Finishing 3rd or 4th then and qualification for the Champion’s League will perhaps offer the most drama amongst clubs through to season end. In this article we’ll look at the contenders, their comparative results and performances between this season and last, and cast a speculative eye ahead through the remaining fixtures.
Comparative Fixtures Played So Far – This Season vs. Last Season
The following chart shows each team’s points difference from the games this season compared to the corresponding fixture last season. Games against promoted and relegated teams have been omitted from this numerical analysis but factored into our conclusions. As can clearly be seen Liverpool are much improved from where they were last season. Tottenham are doing better too, but Arsenal and Everton are both 3-4 wins worse off.
The Underlying Data Driving Performance
Before we start drawing any conclusions it’s important to remember the role fortune can play in football. Full-time results are often influenced by fluke goals, bad decisions or defensive errors. However, thanks to EPL Index’s comprehensive database we can delve deeper into the underlying team stats and get a better understanding of how teams have really performed allowing for increased confidence when forecasting the rest of season’s games. We’ve highlighted some of the key differences between this season and last.
The Gunner’s away form has suffered significantly this season from last where they had one of the best. are down from last year in a few departments. Less shots on target per match on average and subsequently less goals scored. They’ve also conceded more shots on target and again more goals. All in all then their 10 points drop this season is probably justified.
Their underlying stats have not changed since last year but their goals scored and allowed has. This is driven by some big results, such as the 8-0 win over Villa. Their points total is very close to last season though. Three different manager in the last 2 seasons makes it hard to direct comparison but it’s worth noting that Di Matteo had a +8 point difference on comparative results when he was fired. Benetiz’s reign has eaten into that, despite decent performances in individual games, his team have not got the results.
Moyes’ team have performed statistically no differently to last season but are down a lot of points. As can be seen from the data they’ve drawn a number of games at home this season that they won last year, many times too due to a last-minute equaliser or defensive error that makes all the difference between 3 pts and 1.
The Anfield outfit are the biggest winner here. Their overall stats are very similar this year to last except in the crucial goals scored department. They wasted a lot of chances last year which cost them points. This year they’ve scored those chances and are looking like a team in-form. A lot of credit will go to Luis Suarez but I believe Steven Gerrard’s return to form and creativity in a deep midfield role has been as equally important.
Manager Villas-Boas has altered the way Spurs play in a subtle but effective way. They have one of the best defensive records in the Premier League this season and through the season have been getting better at controlling games matches and securing the 3 points in games they might have thrown away last season.
Remaining Fixtures versus Promoted Clubs
As mentioned at the start of this article promoted/relegated teams were left out of the comparative analysis so before we draw some conclusions to final positions it’s time to have a go at adding these fixtures back in. In the table below are each clubs remaining fixtures and our estimate from the above tables at estimating points scored.
Forecasting the Final Positions
Putting all this together then. We’ve taken each clubs current points total, and calculated expected points from remaining fixtures based on last year’s results (Table 1) adjusted by performance levels this year compared to last (Table 2) and estimated points from games versus the promoted clubs (Table 3).
As you can see we have Tottenham and Chelsea securing a fairly comfortable 3rd/4th place with Liverpool fighting to the last to gain the crucial 4th spot but ultimately falling short. Arsenal really have to start doing better on the road than they have done this season to mount a challenge. Everton really don’t have a chance either.
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