Stats and Projections for Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Paul Gilham

Spurs have had it rough. It gets no easier on Sunday with a trip to St. Mary's to face mid-table Southampton, who recently took points off Manchester City.

I've been talking up Southampton since I started doing projections here last spring. Despite being stuck near the relegation zone for most of last season, concluding the season with 41 points and 11 more goals conceded than scored, Southampton's underlying stats projected future improvement. In the 2012-2013 season. Sunderland took very slightly more shots from the danger zone and put more danger zone shots on target than their opponents. (192 and 80 to 190 and 78). I have Southampton's projected goal difference last year based on underlying stats at about +3 goals. They struggled badly in preventing goals on shots on target, allowing 60 when the numbers would have projected 50 or so.

This year, Southampton have turned around those bad goal conversion numbers, and they've allowed just 15 goals (tied for fewest in the Premier League) when the stats would suggest 17-18 would be more likely. Conversion problems, whether in attack or on defense, tend to sort themselves out over time.

What all this means, for Tottenham Hotspur, is that on Sunday they travel to a difficult road match against a quality opponent. Southampton earned a draw home to Manchester City earlier in the season, and their 24 points on the season thus far are no fluke. At the same time, because this match projects as a tough one for Spurs, a good win could make a nice little bit of difference in our projections.

Projections for Southampton-Tottenham

TOT W D SOT W
MCofA Projection 33% 30% 37%
Bookie Projection 32% 20% 38%
TOT Top 4% 20% 12% 9%

I'm just about perfectly in line with the bookies now, which is kind of interesting. I'm guessing that I still like both Southampton and Spurs a bit more than they do, but that evens out when the two clubs face each other. Needing points just to stay in the double-digits in top four chances is depressing, but that's what playing indifferent to terrible football for 450 minutes in a row will do to you.

So what will get Spurs back into the race? Obviously if we're currently at 12-15%, there must be some stories of the future where things come together. It really starts with wins over the holidays. Looking at the next four matches, Spurs need at least nine points, and that's just to avoid getting embarrassed. Twelve would put us back into real contention, though not over 50% yet.

Projections through New Years

  • Points is the number of points, 0-15 with 14 excluded as impossible, that Spurs might take over the next four matches.
  • %Chance is the odds of Spurs taking that many points from the next four matches in my simulator.
  • %Top 4 is the odds of Spurs making top four after taking X points from the next six games, and %Title is the same but for the EPL title.
Points %Chance %Top 4 %Title
0 0.4% 0.8% 0%
1 2% 1% 0.01%
2 3% 2% 0.01%
3 6% 3% 0.02%
4 13% 5% 0.05%
5 12% 7% 0.1%
6 14% 10% 0.1%
7 19% 13% 0.2%
8 8% 19% 0.5%
9 10% 22% 0.7%
10 8% 29% 1%
12 3% 42% 3%

Obviously we're well past the point of diminishing returns with distinguishing Spurs' title chances if they rake seven or eight points for the next four matches. But the script that makes the table fills that in, and it would take work to edit the html. So the title% column just sort of sits there, taunting me. This club is a long way from the top four, let alone the title, and it'll take more than just a hot streak through the holiday period to get back to where we'd like to be. But absent such a hot streak, we're definitely heading toward wait-til-next-year territory.

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