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.
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|
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.
|West Bromwich Albion||9||15||14||42||-8||93||0%||0||4%||+2||0%||0||0%|
|West Ham United||7||11||20||32||-22||64||0%||0||60%||-1||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.