Premier League projections, Week 24: Is it over?

Jamie McDonald

The midweek matches brought separation in both of the big races at the top of the table. Chelsea and Arsenal dropped points while Manchester City rolled. Liverpool took three big points off Everton while Tottenham got rolled. I now have huge gaps where once exciting races were projected. It might be over.

There are over one hundred matches still to play in the Premier League this season, but I think we have a pretty good idea of how it will play out. Manchester City have finally overtaken Arsenal for first place and look relatively unlikely to relinquish the position. Liverpool have jumped back ahead of Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, and likewise the Reds appear to have the quality to make that lead stick.

My projections now treat Manchester City as big favorites to win the Premier League title. Further, in only about 25% of projected seasons did a club other than City, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool crack the top four. There's still a relegation race of course, and the contest for that Europa League position in 5th looks wide open. I guess.

To give you a quick sense of why the stats project such a clear set of outcomes despite the lack of separation in the table right now, here are two key shot differential tables. The first is danger zone shots taken against danger zone shots conceded. The second breaks this difference down further, looking at only danger zone shots not assisted by crosses.

These distinctions matter because these different types of shots are converted into goals at very different rates. Shots from the danger zone have a roughly 1-in-6 chance of scoring (16%), while shots from outside are roughly 1-in-20 (5%). Manchester City's dominance shows through here first.

Club DZ DZA Diff
Arsenal 145 79 +66
Chelsea 144 93 +51
Everton 124 87 +37
Liverpool 137 97 +40
Manchester City 205 76 +129
Manchester United 125 102 +23
Tottenham Hotspur 114 116 -2

Breaking it down further, shots from the danger zone assisted by crosses have a roughly 1-in-10 chance of scoring (11%), compared to 1-in-5 for shots from the danger zone not assisted by crosses (21%). Manchester City dominate these tables again, and Spurs are clearly trailing. The DZ shots not assisted by crosses table helps show why Liverpool have a large advantage in the projections.

Club DZ N/C DZ N/C A Diff
Arsenal 90 42 +48
Chelsea 78 50 +28
Everton 71 48 +23
Liverpool 92 47 +45
Manchester City 119 33 +86
Manchester United 65 46 +19
Tottenham Hotspur 66 62 +4

And that is why I think it might be over.

Projections and Power Rankings

Because of rounding, not all the numbers necessarily add up quite right.

Club W D L Pts GD Team+ Top4% ΔT4 Rel% ΔRel Title% ΔTitle 5th
Manchester City 27 5 6 85 +62 165 99.5% +.5 0% 0 73% +18 .5%
Arsenal 24 8 6 79 +34 139 94% +1 0% 0 13% -10 5%
Chelsea 23 9 6 78 +34 140 91% -0 0% 0 9% -8 7%
Liverpool 23 7 8 76 +45 154 87% +15 0% 0 5% +1 9%
Tottenham Hotspur 20 8 10 67 +4 116 12% -11 0% 0 0% -0.5 28%
Everton 18 13 7 66 +16 118 9% -6 0% 0 0% -0 26%
Manchester United 19 8 11 65 +18 124 7% +1 0% 0 0% 0 22%
Newcastle United 16 9 13 58 +4 100 0.5% -0 0% 0 0% 0 2%
Southampton 14 13 11 55 +8 112 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 1%
Aston Villa 12 10 16 46 -8 89 0% 0 0.5% -1.5 0% 0 0%
Swansea City 11 11 16 45 -4 97 0% 0 1% -1 0% 0 0%
West Bromwich Albion 9 15 14 42 -8 93 0% 0 4% +2 0% 0 0%
Hull City 10 10 18 40 -11 79 0% 0 9% +2 0% 0 0%
Norwich City 9 11 18 38 -26 71 0% 0 16% +2 0% 0 0%
Stoke City 9 11 18 37 -23 69 0% 0 22% +4 0% 0 0%
Crystal Palace 10 7 21 37 -25 73 0% 0 23% -10 0% 0 0%
Sunderland 9 9 20 36 -23 74 0% 0 31% -9 0% 0 0%
Fulham 9 5 24 33 -40 65 0% 0 62% +5 0% 0 0%
West Ham United 7 11 20 32 -22 64 0% 0 60% -1 0% 0 0%
Cardiff City 7 10 21 31 -34 57 0% 0 72% +4 0% 0 0%

  • I do want to mention the crazy stats from Chelsea's draw with West Ham. While a lot of people have focused on how Chelsea's 39 shots overstate their attacking quality, I think not enough has been said about the defensive performance. West Ham took a total of one shot, and it was a header assisted by a cross. Chelsea pick up added quality in my ratings mostly because of their defensive dominance. West Ham were sitting deep, of course, but when they tried to break and counter occasionally, Chelsea shut them down with ease.
  • It is true that 23 of the 39 shots by Chelsea came from outside the box. That' the highest total in the Premier League this season. Next highest at 18 was Hull City in that dire match against Sunderland where two Sunderland players were sent off in extra time of the first half, but Hull City did nothing with their advantage but ping in speculative long shots over perhaps the worst 45 minutes of football seen in the Premier League this season. The third highest SoB total was of course Spurs-Newcastle.
  • One interesting story to watch this spring will be the relegation race. West Ham, Cardiff and Fulham are all buying like crazy to claw their way out of the bottom. My projections do not take account of player changes, for the simple reason that there are no good publicly tested player value stats. So I don't have any means of incorporating player quality into the projections. If or when these clubs start playing better, their projections will improve. But until the new players make a difference on the field, they won't start making a difference in my projections.

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