Downward in Slow Motion: Premier League power rankings and season projection, Week 33

Paul Gilham

An updated statistical projection of the remaining Premier League season

A week off for Tottenham Hotspur was anything but for Chelsea and Arsenal, both of whom played a midweek game as well as the usual weekend match. The results came off well for the active London sides, who were projected to about six points combined but walked away with seven. Chelsea, despite a difficult run in and heavy fixture congestion (my system accounts for the former but not the latter), seem to be in good shape. Arsenal and Tottenham are locked in a tight battle for fourth, with the Gunners currently a nose ahead.

I've made a slight format change this week, and I'm listing the season projection first and the power rankings below. The power rankings really aren't changing much week to week, while the season projection is easily the most interesting thing I've got to post.

Projected Table

Club W D L Pts %Title ΔTitle %Top 4 ΔTop 4 %Rel ΔRel
Manchester United 29 4 5 91 99% +.5 100% 0 0% 0
Manchester City 24 9 5 82 1% -.5 100% 0 0% 0
Chelsea 21 8 9 71 0% 0 80% +11 0% 0
Arsenal 20 10 8 69 0% 0 64% -4 0% 0
Tottenham Hotspur 20 8 10 68 0% 0 50% -5 0% 0
Everton 16 15 7 63 0% 0 5% -2 0% 0
Liverpool 16 12 10 60 0% 0 .1% -.9 0% 0
West Bromwich Albion 15 6 17 51 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0
Swansea City 12 12 14 48 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0
Fulham 12 11 15 46 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0
West Ham United 12 10 16 46 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0
Southampton 11 12 15 45 0% 0 0% 0 .1% -.9
Newcastle United 12 7 19 42 0% 0 0% 0 3% +2
Norwich City 9 15 14 41 0% 0 0% 0 5% +1
Stoke City 9 14 15 40 0% 0 0% 0 10% +3
Sunderland 10 11 17 40 0% 0 0% 0 12% -22
Aston Villa 9 11 18 39 0% 0 0% 0 26% +6
Wigan Athletic 10 8 20 38 0% 0 0% 0 42% +7
Queens Park Rangers 6 13 19 30 0% 0 0% 0 99% +1
Reading 6 10 22 28 0% 0 0% 0 100% 0

  • Four points for Arsenal was pretty much a "hold serve" result, and combined with Chelsea's victory it actually slightly hurt Arsenal's chances. Chelsea is moving toward a place in Europe at an increasing rate. This weekend's game against Liverpool, whom my system continues to love even as they fail to score against Reading, will be an intriguing one both for its top-4 implications and for its "are Liverpool actually any good" implications.
  • Liverpool's hilarious draw with Reading has effectively ended any dream of a miracle run. Everton are still alive, but only barely. They needed to attack the Arsenal game if they wanted to make a run.
  • West Ham's unexpected home draw with United has sealed their safety. They were relegated in a total of four runs out of ten thousand. I will add the Hammers to my "nothing to play for" watch next week, joining Fulham, West Brom, and Swansea.
  • Sunderland's 3-0 spanking of their Northern rivals was easily the result of the weekend, cutting the Black Cats' chances of being relegated by roughly two-thirds. Even though Villa's draw with Fulham and Wigan's loss at City weren't terrible results, Sunderland's unexpected three points affected everyone else in the relegation battle.
  • Speaking of clubs in the relegation battle, oh yes, that's Stoke City just clinging on to life. They have a quite easy schedule for the next three weeks (@QPR, NOR, @SUN) and the projections expect them to come away with enough points to remain safe. At the same time, these are points they need, and with Spurs and Southampton to close the season, poor results at the end of April could doom the Potters.
  • As a minor note on Stoke City that is at most tangentially stat related, this old but not outdated Swiss Ramble piece on the club's finances is worth remembering. Stoke may not have huge gate revenues or an international fanbase, and they may not have any good football players, but that doesn't mean they're an underdog. Tony Pulis has spent untold millions of Peter Coates' money, year after year, just to build a roster with eighteen redundant Geoff Camerons. Stoke City is arguably the worst managed football club in England. (Indeed, that's an argument I'd make and am currently making.)

Nothing to Play For Watch

I am continuing to track the results of mid-table clubs which have sealed their safety. Both West Brom and Swansea took a weekend off, and Fulham played two pretty average games. Despite only one point from six and some poor attacking returns, Fulham limited Chelsea to only about 1.5 expected goals allowed and basically held serve at Villa. In five matches so far, "nothing to play for" clubs have outperformed attacking expectations by ~10% and underperformed defensive expectations by ~10%. The sample is too small to draw any conclusions, but so far these look like normal results for ok-not-great football clubs.

Power Rankings

Club Team+ Att+ Def- Form+
Manchester City 161 135 54 160
Manchester United 154 145 70 169
Liverpool 138 131 81 150
Chelsea 131 119 77 135
Tottenham Hotspur 130 129 84 149
Arsenal 123 120 88 129
Everton 115 121 103 94
Southampton 98 100 104 116
West Bromwich Albion 92 90 103 75
Swansea City 91 95 106 82
Newcastle United 86 104 125 84
Fulham 85 92 113 61
West Ham United 83 80 117 75
Stoke City 83 68 86 62
Sunderland 78 81 110 87
Wigan Athletic 78 85 117 109
Norwich City 76 77 106 64
Aston Villa 75 82 115 94
Queens Park Rangers 72 78 116 65
Reading 52 69 142 42

  • Despite a totally unexpected draw, Liverpool and Reading stay in the same places in the power rankings. Liverpool put eleven shots on target and created four big chances, numbers that usually correspond to about three goals scored. This was probably the largest squander of the season. Hopefully Liverpool can recover their midseason finishing form this Sunday against Chelsea.
  • As such, despite the draw, it remains the case that Reading are terrible.
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