With the international break finally over and football games not featuring third-division Belorussian center backs returning to our television screens, it's time for updated projections. Of course, the world we're returning to is not a precisely happy one. Spurs just lost to Stoke City at home, and Spurs were pretty comprehensively beaten. Maybe there's a world where Bojan's early shot is off target and Nacer Chadli scores a miraculous equalizer late, but fundamentally Stoke City were the better side. Tottenham are not currently in good shape to finish in the top four, and even a top six finish is in doubt.
The one positive for Spurs is that North London is not the only region disappointed by its football team. Liverpool and Everton stand even on points with Spurs, and Manchester United only have an advantage because of their ludicrously easy early schedule. Right now, four of the clubs most analysts predicted in the top seven are in some kind of crisis. While each club has clear problems they need to fix, this also means there is a kind of opportunity. Surely one of these sides will get their tactics and team selection together and start playing contending football. And when that happens, there will probably still be a top four race to be won.
Of course, I didn't mention one other side in crisis. Arsenal dropped points away to Swansea City and have more draws than wins so far. By the numbers, however, Arsenal look pretty great. They actually have slightly better underlying expected goals statistics than Chelsea, and adjusting for game state only brings the Blues about even.
I tend to doubt Arsenal are actually the class of the Premier League, but I also think their play has been miles ahead of that of Spurs, United or Liverpool. There is room for Arsenal to slump and one of their competitors to take advantage. Or maybe Southampton will nosedive as their schedule gets tough. But until that happens, the top four look strong and the chasing pack is a good distance removed.
These stats suggest a chance of greater than 50 percent that one of the trailing pack will finish in the top four ahead of Arsenal or Southampton. It is reasonably likely someone will stage that comeback. But I could not begin to pick whom that will be. It would be pretty hilarious if it were Newcastle is all I'll say.
Premier League Projections
- Full metholodogy, don't forget to click on "Methodology" for lots of math.
- EPL Advanced Statistics page, with many of the component stats for these projections.
- Because of rounding, the numbers may not all add up quite right.
|West Ham United||14.4||9.7||13.9||53||+1||0%||0||4%||-1||15%||1%||+0|
|West Bromwich Albion||11.1||12.0||14.9||45||-8||0%||0||0%||-0||3%||8%||+2|
|Queens Park Rangers||9.9||8.4||19.7||38||-23||0%||0||0%||0||0%||35%||+1|
- Spurs face Hull City at the weekend. Despite a solid minus-2 goal difference, Hull City have utterly awful underlying stats. They are allowing more than twice as many expected goals as they are creating. They've been carried by spectacular finishing from players who are decidedly not Sergio Agüero. Mohamed Diamé came into last weekend's match with more goals than danger zone shot attempts. This is all to say that Spurs should be highly favored, even on the road, and dropped points would be a major misstep in any kind of comeback bid.
- There appears to be a bottom five separating themselves out from the pack. I think it is quite likely that all three relegated clubs this year will come from the bottom five I have listed. I'm probably more confident in Leicester's relegation than anyone else's. That side simply cannot play defense at a Premier League level, and there is no surer path back to the Championship than massive goals and shots allowed numbers. As we saw last year with Tony Pulis and Crystal Palace, the right manager and the right tactics can make a huge difference, so all of these clubs still have time. But I feel pretty good about how my projections are reading the bottom three right now.