What the form shows: who will win the league and what if Man C are found guilty?



Who will win the league?

By Tony Attwood

When commentators look forward to future fixtures there rarely seems to be much coherence in their explanations, with many predictions ending with vagaries such as, “I think Tottenham will be too strong for them,” and comments of that nature.  In a similar way, many are now predicting that Manchester City will win the league without any doubt.  

But there is another way of doing this, by looking at the way the team has been performing of late over a set number of games.

Indeed we have not always taken advantage of this in full ourselves – but we should have done.  For example, we have looked at the home form and the away form of teams meeting in a match – and that can be helpful, but one can also look at the recent home and away form for a better guide as to how a team is doing.

In fact, our insistence from the end of last season to the start of this season that media predictions that Arsenal would end the season in fifth or sixth position were wrong, and that predictions based on the final 35 games of last season in which Arsenal were third were more accurate.  We argued that therefore it was not a bad bet to say that Arsenal would finish third this season.  We were almost certainly wrong, but at least we were closer to reality than the mainstream media.

Thus really we ought to be using this prediction model more.  So let’s try it out and consider the last 20 games that clubs have played.


Team P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 20 14 4 2 48 19 46
2 Manchester City* 20 14 2 4 42 18 44
3 Newcastle United 20 12 6 2 41 12 42
4 Manchester United 20 12 4 4 31 22 40
5 Aston Villa 20 12 2 6 34 27 38
6 Brighton and Hove Albion 20 9 5 6 38 27 32


Take the last ten games – and we can see that here the advantage has swung away from Arsenal toward Manchester City.   And a team not in the top six over 20 games is now appearing – Tottenham Hotspur.


Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City* 10 8 1 1 25 7 18 25
2 Arsenal 10 7 2 1 27 12 15 23
3 Tottenham Hots 10 6 2 2 16 11 5 20
4 Aston Villa 10 6 1 3 18 13 5 19
5 Newcastle United 10 5 3 2 15 10 5 18
6 Manchester Utd 10 5 2 3 14 15 -1 17


To get the most recent form we come down to the last six


Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 6 5 1 0 20 6 14 16
2 Manchester City* 6 5 1 0 16 4 12 16
3 Aston Villa 6 5 1 0 11 2 9 16
4 Newcastle United 6 5 0 1 13 6 7 15
5 Brighton & Hove 6 3 2 1 13 7 6 11
6 Tottenham Hotspur 6 3 2 1 11 7 4 11


Brighton and Hove Albion have now appeared but Manchester United have vanished.

Now this sort of analysis seems to me to be of interest because it tells us which teams are capable of maintaining their position in the league and which are subject to the ebbs and flows of events, who they are playing, who is injured etc etc.

Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton and Hove are the three teams that have failed to maintain a place in the top six at these different league tables measuring the last six, last ten and last 20 games.  Arsenal, Manchester City and Aston Villa are the three teams that have maintained their presence.

Looking at the current table, and using the data above we might well conclude that the top three will hold their positions in the top three, while Aston Villa on the basis of form might challenge Tottenham for fitfh place.  And while Brighton and Hove have two games in hand and are only one point behind Villa, based on recent form it would seem more likely that Villa will climb up the table rather than Brighton, despite Brighton having two games in hand.

Here’s the table as it stands…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 30 23 4 3 72 29 43 73
2 Manchester City* 29 21 4 4 75 27 48 67
3 Newcastle United 29 15 11 3 48 21 27 56
4 Manchester United 29 17 5 7 44 37 7 56
5 Tottenham Hotspur 30 16 5 9 55 42 13 53
6 Aston Villa 30 14 5 11 41 40 1 47
7 Brighton and Hove Albion 28 13 7 8 52 36 16 46


*Just one other thing: as Goal.com kindly point out, “Manchester City have been charged by the Premier League for an alleged breach of over 100 financial rules between 2009 and 2018, with it suggested that they have benefitted from an unfair advantage during the most successful period in their history.”

If they did win the title this year would they be allowed to keep it?   And if they are stripped of the title, would they acknowledge that, or would they continue to claim that they had “really” won the league this season?  And come to that in previous seasons?  Or will they be stripped of all their titles since the takeover? 

In short, those asterisks mean, “some points shown here may have been achieved through breaking Premier League rules.”  Of course the Premier League may find City guilty of offences up to 2018, and strip them of past titles, but if the players purchased since then have used the same money, that will still leave a question over subsequent years.

This could get messy. 


3 Replies to “What the form shows: who will win the league and what if Man C are found guilty?”

  1. I can’t imagine that MC will be stripped of the title. I would expect that they will be allowed to escape any meaningful sanctions, whatever the outcome of the charges against them.

    Note also the total media silence on this topic. Guess what it would be like if Arsenal had been charged!

  2. I’m not sure John. Would the PL have gone so far as to charge Man City with 100+ breaches just to warn them about their future behaviour? By charging them they are making the whole thing public… I’ll see if I can gather a few more thoughts on this?

  3. If they were to be stripped, relegated or what not, it wouldn’t effect anyone else historically.

    They would lose their titles, but they are not given to anyone else.
    The implications to rectify anything from relegations, relegation money, PL league standing money, European places etc is too much for anyone to handle.
    This meaning no clubs will gain anything from Man City being found guilty according to PL guidelines.

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