With the continued positive response (thanks!), another 5 matches has brought us to the new year. Let's have a look at the table.
Previous standings after 15 matches*
Table after 20 matches
Man City -9pts
Man U -13pts
Recap of last 5 matches:
Form: +1pt (0, 1, 0, 0, 0)
We went through a very tough fixture list very well. We started with a win over Crystal Palace and then went to the Emirates stadium, where we gained a point, whilst taking 2 points away from Arsenal. Another difficult match against Swansea (which I was not able to see) where Hazard was able to get us the necessary result. An amazing match with Liverpool where it was vital that we win, in order to prevent Liverpool from jumping further ahead (as it was a home game for us) ended with the expected result. This means that we did not gain any points in this system; in the reverse fixture, however, we will feel much less pressure. Lastly, the Soton game could have been a problem but we passed this test with flying colors. As Soton were not originally considered a mid table team, a win was the expected result. Overall Chelsea finished with a +1 over these 5 matches, third best for this block, just behind Liverpool and Man City.
Form: +3pts (3, 0, 0, 0, 0)
Liverpool are currently leading this table after performing nearly in line with expectations (they have actually only deviated 4 times in the last 20 matches). Their 5-0 victory over Tottenham away is the reason they got their 3 points for this 5 match block. In their other fixtures they performed as expected, winning against easy opposition (Cardiff and Hull), while losing 2-1 to both Man City and us away. With the early Tottenham win, Liverpool have been the strongest team in this round.
Form: 0pts (0, -2, 0, 2, 0)
Arsenal performed in line with expectations over this period. They deviated twice - drawing at home with us (where they were supposed to win) and getting a lucky away win at Newcastle (where they were supposed to draw). They got thrashed by Man City in the first match, and managed wins against two easy teams - West Ham and manager-less Cardiff.
Man City: -9pts
Form: +2pts (0, 0, 0, 0, 2)
Man City also didn't have the easiest schedule, though most of their difficult were home games. They defeated Arsenal and Liverpool at home in their tough matches and got some scrappy wins against Fulham, Palace and Swansea. This was their first ever match in which they performed above expectations. However, Swansea have been horrible at home and hopefully Chelsea will be able to dispatch with them away as well. With a +2, Man City are the second best performing this round.
Form: -2pts (-3, 0, -2, 0, 3)
Tottenham had a torrid time in this block, which partially resulted in the AVB sacking. A hammering at home to Liverpool, and a home draw to West Brom cost them dearly. They managed to perform in line with expectations by beating Southampton away and Stoke at home. However, they took a big scalp by defeating Moyes at home. They were still the worst performers over this stretch of games with a -2.
Man U: -13pts
Form: -1pts (2, 0, 0, 0, -3)
Man U started the series with an away win to Villa in which they were expected to draw. They continued with easy wins against West Ham, Hull and Norwich. Then in a lovely beginning to the New Year for United, they got defeated at home to Tottenham dropping 3 points. They were the second worst performers over this period at -1.
In the real table, we have Arsenal leading from Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool. What the above methodology tells us is that in the upcoming 18 matches, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal will have much easier fixtures than Man City. This is quite obvious in Man City's case, as they have to play Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham away, whilst the other teams have easier run-ins. Let's have a look at the next 5 matches:
Chelsea: a pretty difficult and possibly season defining 5 matches. It starts off easy against Hull, then a home match to a doomed Man U, a very difficult away fixture with Man City and lastly a home match to Newcastle.
Liverpool: main difficulty will come from home games with Everton and Arsenal.
Arsenal: three tricky away fixtures to Liverpool, Aston Villa and Southampton.
Man City: a very difficult fixture list with Newcastle away, Tottenham away and a home game to Chelsea.
Tottenham: have a tough fixture list with Man City at home, Swansea away and Everton home.
Man U: an away match with Chelsea and a home game with Swansea are the only tricky fixtures.
History and facts:
The table last season after 20 matches:
Man U +2pts
Man City -8pts
Last season Man U were on an amazing +2 pts, i.e. on course for 93 pts. So SAF accounted for about a 15 point difference between the current Man U and last year's Man U. Man City are performing slightly worse than last season, while Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal are significantly better. Overall, the top six are significantly better than last season. The cumulative differential this season is -42pts, whereas last year it was -58pts. This is mainly due to the improved performances off all the teams (aside from Man U).
Some other facts:
- Man U cannot mathematically achieve 91pts anymore - their current maximum is 88, already below last season's total.
- Tottenham can at most attain 91pts.
- As mentioned, this was the first time Man City overperformed.
- Team which has overperformed the most times: Chelsea (Man U, Tot, Arsenal matches) and Man U (Swansea, Tot and Villa) - 3 times
- Team which has underperformed the most times: Man U - 7 times
The new year is looking quite well - we are well within striking distance of the top and have one of the easier fixture lists. Still, we have to be wary of Liverpool, who have an easier fixture list with many of the big games at home. It looks that Man U are already out of the race - they now have to face the difficult task to qualify for the champions league. As we enter the transfer window, it will be interesting to see who strengthens and how. Happy New Year to all again and KTBFFH!!
*Methodology: I assume that 91pts will guarantee winning the league. To get this total - win all games vs bottom 10 (60pts), win and draw away against mid-4 (Villa, Everton, Newcastle, Swansea) (16pts), win and lose away against the top 6 (15pts). This table shows how much the teams deviate from this target (i.e. a team with -2pts is on course to get 89pts, 2 short of 91).