Now, a return to reality.
Ramble of the Day
A new year means a new month, and a new month means a new round of the Premier League Expectation-Embarrassment Index. The new year’s edition is always the definition of recency bias — teams play a ridiculous amount of games in such a short period during the holidays that it’s almost a reflection on just those fixtures.
Just like everything at this point, this month’s edition of the Index also takes COVID-19 into account. The foundation of the rankings is still intact — after all, it was still a fairly easy thing to count the points earned from each team’s last five matches. All other judgements — expectation and entertainment, really — were impacted by the outbreaks because several clubs played matches while recovering or dealing with missing players. It means I was in some ways more lenient on the teams than usual; it was a difficult month to manage for all, I’m sure.
Here is the first Expectation-Embarrassment Index of 2022 (and here’s your refresher on the rubric if you need it):
- Manchester City, 46 points (no change)
- Arsenal, 40 points (+6 places)
- Manchester United, 39 points (+1 place)
- Tottenham Hotspur, 38 points (+1 place)
- Chelsea, 34 points (-2 places)
- Brighton and Hove Albion, 33 points (+13 places)
- Leicester City, 31 points (+2 places)
- Crystal Palace, 30 points (+5 places)
- Aston Villa, 30 points (-3 places)
- Liverpool, 29 points (-8 places)
- Brentford, 29 points (-1 place)
- West Ham United, 28 points (-5 places)
- Wolverhampton Wanderers, 28 points (+1 place)
- Southampton, 27 points (+2 places)
- Leeds United, 21 points (-3 places)
- Everton, 21 points (+4 places)
- Newcastle United, 17 points (no change)
- Burnley, 13 points (-3 places)
- Watford, 7 points (-1 place)
- Norwich City, 6 points (-9 places)
I’ll just go top to bottom today, since I have a few points to make about several teams. There’s a relatively solid gap between Manchester City at the top and everyone else, which I think is reflective of the actual league table. Those below them, though, to me signify a heating up top four race. Further down, there’s a chunk of teams that had very average Decembers by winning some, losing some, and not doing enough to embarrass themselves. Everyone below Southampton in 14th, though, I think has reason to worry.
The most improved team this month is Brighton, who won twice and snapped a winless run that lasted three whole months and moved up 13 places on this index. The biggest drop down the table belongs to Norwich who, alongside Watford, accomplished something no one ever has before in my year doing this index: earn zero out of their last 15 points. The only thing distinguishing the two sides is that Watford managed to score in that period, while Norwich is on a five match run without a goal. It comes as no surprise that these two sides are struggling, but that kind of form is quite surprising. Depending on one’s viewpoint, it’s also probably unacceptable.
tl;dr: Presenting the first round of the Expectation-Embarrassment Index of the year after a very weird December for all.
Stay informed, read this: Tressie McMillan Cottom on trailblazing Black women in country music for The Undefeated
Links of the Day
- Four PSG players and Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp tested positive for COVID-19.
- Three Liverpool players missed the team’s draw at Chelsea with suspected positive tests.
- Auckland City withdrew from the Club World Cup because of New Zealand’s COVID-19 protocols, and will be replaced by Tahitian side AS Pirae.
Ex-Gabon U-17 boys’ manager Patrick Assoumou Eyi has been charged with rape and sexual assault of minors.
Tranfers: Everton signed Vitaliy Mykolenko from Dynamo Kyiv; Brighton signed Emma Kullberg and Julia Zigiotti Olme from Häcken
A longer read: Jack Bantock on Nigeria’s preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations, which has been interrupted by a COVID-19 case, injuries, and a dispute with Watford for CNN
Additionally: Senegal has also accused Watford of blocking Ismaïla Sarr from participating at the tournament.