It was a good day: Premier League power rankings and season projection, Week 31

Michael Regan

Statistical projections of the battles for the top four and for safety from relegation, updated through the games of week 31.

A game preceded by an hour of abject panic turned into joy for thirty minutes, then ahh this isn't so bad for forty, and back to panic again for the final twenty. In the end, Tottenham Hotspur won a close game at a tough mid-table opponent. Even with Hugo Lloris out of the side with a minor injury (pleasepleaseplease), Spurs outplayed Swansea City and took a deserved three points. Elsewhere, Southampton solidly beat Chelsea as the Saints continued their mission to prove the utility of underlying stats for football analysis. The club that couldn't buy a win despite their shots and chances have now taken back-to-back games against big sides and have established themselves solidly in the eighth position in this week's power rankings.

Power Rankings

Club Team+ Att+ Def-
Manchester City 160 136 55
Manchester United 152 145 71
Liverpool 133 131 85
Tottenham Hotspur 131 127 83
Chelsea 129 120 79
Arsenal 125 120 88
Everton 112 124 107
Southampton 98 101 105
West Bromwich Albion 92 89 101
Swansea City 92 91 104
Newcastle United 89 104 123
Fulham 89 95 110
Stoke City 86 68 82
West Ham United 85 82 101
Norwich City 80 74 100
Sunderland 77 81 113
Wigan Athletic 75 85 121
Queens Park Rangers 74 80 116
Aston Villa 71 77 116
Reading 53 70 140

  • QPR actually had the better of the Fulham game by the numbers, but they gave up a dumb penalty and an own goal to blow a needed game. They actually move up a little in these rankings, but as you'll see below, it's basically over for Harry Redknapp and his new side.
  • Spurs and Chelsea swap places again.
  • Reading are terrible.

Projected Table

The Chelsea loss was great news for Spurs. For Arsenal, there's actually little change. They held serve against Reading, and a total of three points for Spurs and Chelsea was what the model expected. With a three-club race for two slots now entirely on, I've been wondering a bit about the "Aston Villa relegated on goal difference" meme. Given that Spurs sit ten goals difference behind both their rivals, this seems like a classic bit of projection, a psychological defense where we turn an obvious and real fear about our club into comedy about another. Spurs are, at the moment, only slightly less likely to miss the Champions League on goal difference (5.5%) than Aston Villa are to be relegated by the same means (6%). Still, fears aside, it was a good week and Spurs are again solidly favored to finish top four.

Club W D L Pts %Title ΔTitle %Top 4 ΔTop 4 %Rel ΔRel
Manchester United 30 3 5 92 99.5% +.5 100% 0 0% 0
Manchester City 23 10 5 79 .5% -.5 100% 0 0% 0
Tottenham Hotspur 21 7 10 69 0% 0 70% +12 0% 0
Chelsea 20 9 9 69 0% 0 65% -16 0% 0
Arsenal 19 10 9 67 0% 0 51% +1 0% 0
Everton 16 14 8 62 0% 0 9% +1 0% 0
Liverpool 17 11 10 62 0% 0 5% +1 0% 0
West Bromwich Albion 15 7 16 52 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0
Fulham 13 10 15 49 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0
Swansea City 12 12 14 48 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0
West Ham United 13 7 18 45 0% 0 0% 0 .5% -2
Southampton 11 11 16 44 0% 0 0% 0 1% -3
Stoke City 9 15 14 43 0% 0 0% 0 2% +.5
Norwich City 9 15 14 43 0% 0 0% 0 2% 0
Newcastle United 11 8 19 42 0% 0 0% 0 4% +1
Sunderland 9 11 18 38 0% 0 0% 0 24% +6
Wigan Athletic 10 8 20 38 0% 0 0% 0 32% -17
Aston Villa 9 10 19 37 0% 0 0% 0 42% +9
Queens Park Rangers 6 13 19 31 0% 0 0% 0 93% +4
Reading 6 10 22 28 0% 0 0% 0 99% +1

  • Everton are still alive for the Champions League places, but they'll need a win against Spurs this week to have any real chance. I figure we'll see a highly motivated Toffee side.
  • The recent good runs by Wigan and Villa have left QPR and Reading in just about hopeless position, but so far by the numbers the only club they've successfully run down is Sunderland. The difference here is a combination of schedule difficulty (Sunderland face three top seven clubs in their run-in) and overall quality (Sunderland rate as a roughly relegation quality side, the others are better). I'll try to keep track of whether the dramatic leadership change up in Sunderland has any effect.
  • Another thing to keep track of: three clubs (Swansea, Fulham, West Brom) now see zeros across, totally safe from relegation but also totally hopeless for top four. I'll track how they perform relative to expectations over the rest of the season, and I'll add in hopeless/fearless sides as they reach the promised middle ground.
  • The dream of Stoke relegation still will not quite die.
  • In only 55 iterations of the simulation did Manchester United not win the title. In advance of the Manchester derby, it looks like it's already too late for City to make a run.
  • A few more numbers. Spurs' chances of finishing third stand at 38%, with a not-nonexistent 2% shot at second place. Average points for teams finishing first through fourth: 92, 80, 72, 68.5.
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