If the Premier League were suspended tonight for some reason — you know, that whole coronavirus pandemic thing — and/or were unable to fully complete the 2020-21 season, it’s quite likely that the final places in the table would be decided on a points-per-game basis. (It’s what we saw happen in the Premier League 2 and the WSL as well last season, with both declaring Chelsea, U23 and Women, respectively, the champions.)
While it’s unclear if the Premier League COVID contingency plans were ever codified (which is pretty shocking), initial discussions centered around the idea of certifying the season valid if just half the games were completed, with the champions, European places, and relegated teams all decided on points-per-game. As we’ve seen already this season, football in a pandemic, with various games postponed, results in drastically unbalanced schedules, and an (unweighted) per-game basis is the most straightforward way to rank the teams.
So, as things stand, after Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Southampton at St. Mary’s last night — which also added a few percentage points to Ralph Hasenhüttl’s chances as the next Chelsea manager at the bookies — the current league leaders are none other than Manchester United! Ole’s at the wheel, and they have the inside lane, and all the hot takes from a couple months ago about the head coach have been left in their dust.
Your updated Premier League table based on points per game. pic.twitter.com/HZ4W9Bczp1— Mike Minay (@MikeMinay) January 4, 2021
In fact, United are currently the only team to be averaging more than 2 points per game played, which really puts into perspective how things are going in the league this season.
Southampton’s win has put them ahead of Chelsea in both the points-per-game and the actual points table, which means that we’re now down to 9th in both. That we remain just seven points behind Liverpool is pretty hilarious, though it’s hard to argue with our actual position considering that none of our seven wins have come against teams above us in the table at the moment.
The first team to figure out how to stay consistently good, whoever they may be, just might walk away with this title. And that makes it all the more imperative that we get our act together.
Chelsea next four games are against Fulham, Leicester City, Wolves, and Burnley, with the first two away and the next two at home. Three of those teams are surely beatable even for this edition of Chelsea, while we have yet another chance to rise to the occasion with the trip to Leicester in a couple weeks.
Over to you, Super Frank.