This weekend's match at White Hart Lane was a paradigmatic game of two halves. As Brett Rainbow showed in his tactical analysis, Spurs brought the necessary pressing game to the second half and changed things entirely. By expected goals, the effects were clear. Southampton's shots were expected to produce one or two goals in the first half, while Spurs created only one particularly good chance. But in the second half Spurs dominated the shot chart, themselves expected to one or two goals while Southampton was fairly shut out. The overall effect was an even match, tilting slightly to Spurs.
As was so often the case during the January hot streak under Sherwood, there are happy stories we can tell about the match. If we can just play as well as we played in the second half, we can make a run. The thing is, that was true against Crystal Palace, against Swansea City, and so on. And those excellent halves did not portend better performances to come. Instead, the sum of the whole match, with the unimpressive parts also included, made for better predictions of future Spurs matches. My stats continue not to discount the bad parts, and continue to see Spurs as a weak club compared to the other contenders and still very long shots for the title.
But it's not entirely over. The chance of making the top four, for both Spurs and Everton, is predicated on an Arsenal collapse. They were throttled by Chelsea on Saturday, and they have a tough home match against Swansea City tonight. If Arsenal lose, Spurs move into some sort of contention. It's not the likeliest outcome, but these are the cards Spurs have dealt themselves.
Arsenal vs. Swansea
|Outcome||MCofA%||Bookie%||ARS %Top4||ARS %Title||SWA %Rel||TOT %Top4|
Arsenal can nearly knock Spurs out with a win and bring themselves back to the 95% mark for Top 4. But dropped points begin to open the door to a shocking comeback.
Newcastle vs. Everton
Of course, the most likely beneficiaries of an Arsenal collapse are the Toffees rather than the Lilywhites. I think Everton's chances of winning at St. James' Park are being oversold by the bookies, but a win would take them to about 1-in-10 for the miracle run at top four. With Romelu Lukaku healthy again and Roberto Martinez' history of hot finishes, I wouldn't write them off.
|Outcome||MCofA%||Bookie%||NEW %Eur||EVE %Top4|
Manchester United vs. Manchester City
The Manchester derby is a lot more meaningful for City this year, though United may relish the opportunity to play spoiler. A City win moves them into the driver's seat for the league title.
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United, like Spurs, can keep hope of a miracle run alive with a win.
Liverpool vs. Sunderland
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This looks like a gimme for Liverpool, but that means that as with last weekend at Cardiff, any dropped points would be disastrous. Liverpool can hurdle almost to the lead in the title race if they win and City lose. They would be at 37% for the title, Chelsea at 39%, in that combination of results.
Projections and Power Rankings
Because of rounding, not all the numbers necessarily add up quite right.
|West Bromwich Albion||8||15||15||39||-13||89||0%||0||8%||+2||0%||0||0%|
|West Ham United||9||10||19||37||-15||63||0%||0||12%||+2||0%||0||0%|