By Tony Attwood
If we take a look at the league table at this point last season (that is, after 12 games – the 12th game last year coming after rather than before the interlull last year) and then compare with the final league position of the club (the last two columns) we can see how much change there was between the 12th game and the end of the season.
|6||West Ham United||12||5||3||4||20||16||+4||18||12||-6|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||12||3||4||5||13||17||-4||13||13||–|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||12||2||2||8||11||23||-12||8||20||–|
- We can see that…
- 25% of the clubs remained in the same position.
- 35% of the clubs moved by only one or two places up or down.
- 25% of clubs moved by four or five places up or down.
- 15% of the clubs moved by more than five places up or down.
What this suggests is that, for last season at least, the position after 12 games was a fairly decent indicator of where the club will be at the end of the season. It is not exact of course, but the fact that 60% of clubs ended up either where they were after 12 games or within one or two positions of that place, is a big indicator.
Of course “one or two places” can be a big difference – the difference between first and third, first being a trophy and third being, whatever it is we are constantly reminded it isn’t by the aaa.
Likewise at the bottom, a movement of one place can mean continuation in the Premier League or not. But in terms of generality, we can see that by and large the position now is quite possibly going to be a good indicator of where the club is at the end of the season.
The biggest moves came from Newcastle, Liverpool and West Ham, and there are several interesting pointers in this. Many commentators, including commentators such as myself on Untold, felt that after 12 games Newcastle and West Ham were in far higher positions that they merited. There was wild and crazy talk in the media of course about both clubs breaking into the top four, but those semi-skimmed rants were quietly pushed aside as reality sat in.
Clubs can overachieve for a while, but the moment the psychological well-being feeling is burst, doubts can set in and they can decline – and not have the motivation nor the manpower to halt the decline quickly. Liverpool! went the other way, and although many of us (including myself) thoroughly enjoyed the discomfort of the club, I think we knew in our hearts that although Liverpool! were not going to get a top four spot, they really were not going to end up in mid table.
Now let’s just check this with the season before last
|11||West Bromwich Albion||12||3||6||3||14||14||0||15||17||+5|
|17||West Ham United||12||2||4||6||9||14||-5||10||13||+4|
Here we see
- 45% either stayed the same or went up and down by one or two positions
- 35% moved by three or four places
- 20% moved by five or six places
The figures are different of course, but they are broadly in the same arena with only 45% either not moving or going up or down one or two positions, instead of 60%. But once again no club manages to move by more than six places between their position after 12 games and their position at the end of the league.
So what does this mean for the current league table.
|6||West Ham United||12||6||3||3||23||16||+7||21|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||12||4||2||6||10||16||-6||14|
No one from 7th place down can win the league on the basis of these figures from the last two years. No one from 1oth place down at the moment can get into Europe. So no Europe next year for Chelsea based on these findings.
In each season, two of the three teams in the relegation positions after 12 games went down to the Championship at the end of the season. So two out of Bournemouth, Sunderland and Villa. The top four is not completely fixed but only one club has come from outside the top four after 12 games to force its way into the top four at the end – Arsenal.
Only Stoke and Liverpool from outside the top ten in the past two years after 12 games forced themselves into the top ten.
So overall, although 12 matches doesn’t predict where teams are going to be at the end of the season, it seems to give us a general feel, and gives us a clue as to more or less what is going to happen. Few would have predicted Chelsea’s position thus far, but from these figures we might be able to predict Chelsea’s position at the end of the season.
- 15 November 1952: Liverpool 1 Arsenal 5 – as Arsenal continued en route for the title. Cliff Holton got a hat trick, Ben Marden got two. It was the second game in a seven match unbeaten run.
- 15 November 2000: Rhys Weston sold to Cardiff for £50,000. He only played once for Arsenal but went on to play 182 times for Cardiff, and later had a long spell with Walsall. He also won seven caps for Wales.