Who is going to win the PL this year: what history and statistics tell us

By Tony Attwood

OK, of course I don’t know who is going to win the league this year.  But I just wondered what recent history might tell me.  So I took a look at the last eight years, to see if that would give me some insights.

Retention: In the past eight seasons no team has retained the Premier League title.

Champions League: In the past two seasons the Premier League has been won by a team not competing in the Champions League.

Cup Winners: In the past eight seasons the Cup Winners of the season before has won the league three times.

Top scorer: In only three of the past eight seasons has the league been won by the team with the top league scorer.

Last year’s runners’ up: In three of the past eight seasons the league has been won by the club that came second the season before.  Once the runner up lost the title on goal difference, once on one point.  The other occasion the club was Man U winning the league in Alex Ferguson’s final season assisted by some rather short term transfer decisions.

Last year’s third place team: Three times in the past eight years the club coming third the season before won the league.

Winner’s dropping down: Three times in the past eight years the club winning the league has dropped out of the top four the next season.

All change: There has not been a single occasion in the past eight years when the top three of one year have become the top three (irrespective of order) in the next year.

Mind the gap: The gap between the top team and the second team has been different on every occasion ranging from 11 points down to goal difference.

What this collection of facts tells us is that the Premier League has become more varied.  Yes we have the standard clubs that aim to get to the top, or failing that near the top, but the final result is not set in stone.  Nothing comes anywhere near guaranteeing success, and the old days of one team dominating in the style of Bayern Munich in Germany has long gone.

As the figures show, although getting yourself the league’s top scorer can help, there’s no guarantee of success.

Measuring transfer expenditure doesn’t help much either.  Here are the figures from the last five seasons from Transferleague.co.uk – obviously excluding this summer.

 Club Purchases Sales Nett Av per season
Man City £589,650,000 £131,100,000 £458,550,000 £91,710,000
Man United £496,800,000 £164,750,000 £332,050,000 £66,410,000
Arsenal £298,740,000 £48,750,000 £249,990,000 £49,998,000
Leicester £246,550,000 £54,250,000 £192,300,000 £38,460,000
Everton £260,100,000 £113,000,000 £147,100,000 £29,420,000
Liverpool £350,300,000 £238,080,000 £112,220,000 £22,444,000
Crystal Palace £158,135,000 £51,400,000 £106,735,000 £21,347,000
Chelsea £424,259,000 £335,650,000 £88,609,000 £17,721,800
West Ham £149,750,000 £66,500,000 £83,250,000 £16,650,000
West Brom £118,350,000 £38,709,000 £79,641,000 £15,928,200
Bournemouth £88,450,000 £24,780,000 £63,670,000 £12,734,000
Watford £106,700,000 £45,650,000 £61,050,000 £12,210,000
Stoke City £76,700,000 £23,500,000 £53,200,000 £10,640,000
Newcastle Utd £178,800,000 £129,650,000 £49,150,000 £9,830,000
Huddersfield £37,115,000 £9,400,000 £27,715,000 £5,543,000
Brighton & HA £29,105,000 £12,000,000 £17,105,000 £3,421,000
Burnley £51,400,000 £41,950,000 £9,450,000 £1,890,000
Southampton £207,400,000 £208,050,000 -£650,000 -£130,000
Swansea £116,825,000 £126,560,000 -£9,735,000 -£1,947,000
Tottenham £253,950,000 £267,650,000 -£13,700,000 -£2,740,000

So what does make a difference?

Across various articles we have shown that these factors can make a difference…

1: Changing Stadium

This we’ve shown in previous articles is the big negative.  It isn’t just the financial implication of paying for the stadium (although this doesn’t help) it is the move away from the comfort zone and the feeling of knowing what’s what.  In a sense a stadium change emboldens the away team to think they have a chance, and if the rot does set in the visitors become more emboldened, the home team more nervous.

What doesn’t help is that the fans’ expectation is that with all these new facilities etc the club will grow and go on to win the league.   Usually the opposite happens, and we’ve presented this evidence a number of times.

The team moving this season is of course Tottenham.

2: Changing tactics

We saw two obvious examples of this last season: Chelsea were hammered by Arsenal and then changed to a five man defence.   Arsenal went on a terrible run, and changed to the same approach, and then won nine out of ten, including beating Manchester City and Chelsea.

The problem is that there is a limit to how many changes of tactics that one can have.  Do it too often and instead of working it becomes a problem.

3: Reducing the hiccup

Not everyone gets a hiccup during the season, but it happens.  Chelsea lost three out of four last September.  Tottenham didn’t win a single game in seven in October / November.   The trick is, if you are going to have a run like this, either make some of the games in competitions you don’t care about, or end it quickly.

4: Keeping injuries low

This refers back to our last article – the range in the number of injuries in any PL season is huge, as that article showed.   And of course if you are going to have injuries, ensure that the injury is to a player for whom you have an adequate back up.   But best of all don’t get injuries.

5: Having the crowd and the referee onside

Difficult to manage until you are doing well.  Obviously the crowd get behind the team when the team is doing well.   But there appears to be some evidence that the referees do much the same to clubs that are on fine runs.

Let me say at once that I don’t have evidence for this that I can publish, but if this effect is real there are two possible reasons.

a) The club does well because the referees are on side in terms of the club, so they get more decisions going their way.

b) The club that is doing well is so full of confidence that even when there are dodgy decisions from referees they don’t feel put upon, but instead focus totally on winning.

The crowd is more difficult – I have no doubt that although the start of Arsenal’s bad run was in part their own fault, there was also some very dubious refereeing, and then a minority within the crowd which had been getting at the club all season, finally started getting at individual players because they were representatives of the manager.

So, what can we judge from this from Arsenal’s point of view:

1: There is no stadium move.   TOTALLY POSITIVE

2: Change of tactics – this is certain to happen because of the new signings, and the five man defence will still be new to most teams we play.  POSITIVE

3: Reducing the hiccup.   This is up to the management of course, but the array of new backroom talent is very encouraging, and I am hopeful that if anything goes wrong, the new backroom team will be offering new insights which might allow a rapid move when a dip occurs.   Also the new signings look promising, and if we can hold on to the players we want to keep, we should have a very flexible line up, allowing us to drop players out of form.   FAIRLY POSITIVE

4: Keeping the injuries low.   We certainly have new people who have come in of late – and besides the position on injuries as shown in the last article was middle of the road.  Because Shawcrossisms can end a players career in a trice, it is never possible to say, but we’re doing all we can from a good base.   NEUTRAL or FAIRLY POSITIVE.

5: Having the crowd and the referee onside.   Things were clearly better in the last part of the season but the Commentariat are simply negative no matter what.   And as for the PGMO… we have the danger that although the new players will have been warned that English refereeing is like nothing else on earth, they rarely believe it until they get a yellow card for going down with an elbow in the face.   The minority of the crowd who argue that protesting is a good thing are so beyond any logic I can bring to the situation that one can only assume that they will just keep on keeping on.   NEGATIVE unless we are top of the league.

Three positives, one neutral or positive, one negative.  Not perfect, but I have seen a worse start to the season.

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21 Replies to “Who is going to win the PL this year: what history and statistics tell us”

  1. As the transfer window goes, I’m more and more optimistic about our chances to win the league.

    Chelsea – they’ll have European burden to deal with and Hazard’s injury at the tricky beginning of the season. They haven’t resolved their internal mess either with Costa on the exit door, two home-grown players left them, Traore, Ake and Solanke also left and Lukaku opting for Mourinho instead of his favourite club. I don’t see them winning the league at this point unless they make significant reinforcements.

    Tottenham – their TW will be a defensive one as they’ll have to deal with pursuit of Walker and Dier while Alderweireld also wanted a contract with a minimum fee release clause in it. They will have to play at Wembley where their record last season was 1-1-3. Mind you, their WHL record was 17-2-0. Their home-away gap was 20 points last season and that should be too much for them. CL football won’t help either.

    Man City – they have signed a new goalkeeper and a new attacking midfielder but their defence is far from being settled. They have virtually no full-backs and their central midfield is also incomplete, injury prone and past its best. They have been making a serious media pressure on Alexis and Arsenal but we should all stay calm, hold onto Alexis and send a big middle finger to Pep. Unless they sort their defensive holes, they are about to go through another trophy-less season.

    Liverpool have signed Salah but they have failed big time with Van Dijk. They have CL football (unlike last season), in fact, they’ll have eight European matches in 2017 on top of 21 league games and League Cup which might be enough to kick them out of the title race before 2018. Klopp’s Borussia struggled in the league before they had been knocked out of Europe even in their two title-winning seasons so I am not convinced Klopp knows how to handle both demanding competitions, especially with a team that doesn’t have a natural left full-back, a decent defensive midfielder and a central defender needed to win the league.

    Arsenal have had a top transfer window so far. Kolasinac will give us more options and Lacazette should make our attack even deadlier. If Lemar signs and we keep Alexis and Ozil, we can say it’s the best transfer window ever. We have more players than anyone else in the league and Europa League should be less demanding than CL as I see us capable of going through the group stage with our second string. With a strong start, we can win the league. Just keep the current team, trim the squad a bit and that’s it.

    Man United have signed Lukaku and Lindelof. They still haven’t sorted their left back position and there is still no CM signing they need to make Pogba work. I see them as the biggest threat to our title challenge as they have a huge squad and their opening seven matches are suspiciously easy. Unless Man City sort their team problems, United will be the first favourite to win the league (alongside Arsenal).

    Everton have done a lot of transfer work so far but they’ll have a huge European campaign ahead of them. They might narrow the gap with Top 4 though.

  2. Talking on a different topic, Arsenal holding firm against Alexis and the Ox who unilaterally want to exit from the club this summer is good if the duo can be made to agree to contract extensions with the club. But allowing them to leave on the free next summer and lose a projected minimum £75m for the duo transferred out this summer which could rise to £110m depending, will be a bad stubborn sacrifice undertaken by Le Prof and the Arsenal board in imho.

    Therefore, if Alexis and the Ox remain hell bent to leave Arsenal this summer on wage disputes which Arsenal couldn’t honor, I think it’s better for Arsenal to let them leave and use the proceeds from their sales as recoup for some of their spendings to bringing in 3 big money deals senior targets last summer, and for the one big money deal target they’ve brought in alredy this summer so far and for the envisaged one more big money deal target they’ll soon bring in.

    If the Ox leaves, his position in the senior team squad will be replaced with another target of higher quality from the transfer market which I think will constitute an improvement in the position the Ox has left behind. Thus leading to Arsenal finally bringing in 4 targets this summer to bolster the senior Gunners team squad in adequate readiness for next season’s campaign.

    The bolstering the senior Gunners squad efficiently this summer will lead to Arsenal winning the Premier League title next season as they will be armed with their 4 efficient incomers that bolstered and reinforced the senior squad team and that will lead to Arsenal eventually out performed and out results their title rivals and other clubs during the PL campaign next season. This is my own submission as my answer to the topic article question of, “Who Is Going To Win The PL This Year”?

  3. In the case of the Ox demand which I think is not wage based dispute with Arsenal but a guarantee of regular starting role in the PL in particular for Arsenal next season so that in his thinking that will enhance his chance of being selected by the England team manager and play him in the England team in the 2018 World Cup before he puts pen to papers.

    To me, the answer to his demand is simple. If he too will guarantee Arsenal a top regular performance especially in the PL next season, and will allow this guarantee written as a clause into his new contract extension, and on his breaching the inserted regular top performance clause written into his contract extension, Le Prof stands the right to drop him as a starter until such a time he feels he can start him again in the PL. If this is acceptable to the Ox, I think it will be fine and be okay for the two paties. I should think.

  4. Motivation will be the key this season, forget tactics and all the other issues, motivation.
    This may have been there before but not at the level required.

    If Arsenal force Alexis to stay, he may not be happy and it may affect his game somewhat. On top of that he may not be wanted/needed at City next season.

    If he is allowed to go to Manc(a la Van P), AW has to be damm sure that Arsenal will be motivated enough to get they desires, AND has to placate the fans.

    But it does look (to me)like he is going somewhere. I hope not to Manc, yet all things considered, this is/was probably the plan all along for Alexis. Pep knew long ago that he would be going to Manc. I hope i am wrong.

    We all want a happy and settled team, motivated to win this season’s PL and to add what ever other cup(s) we can to it.

  5. Josif
    ” their opening seven matches are suspiciously easy. ”
    Yes they are, again.

    Lets take a look at their matches and matchdays after each CL game too to get a better picture.

    They will also be suspiciously easy i suspect.

    England(media etc) cannot take it when Manu is not at the top for very long, and now they also have a media darling at the helm.

  6. What do u guys make of the squad for the Australia/Asia tour ? Gibbs left out does that mean he is leaving, the same for Lucas and Debuchy…

  7. Tony, if you’re doing the details based on the last 8 seasons, why do you suddenly change to the last 5 seasons for transfer spend. As transfer spend doesn’t really come into full effect for the 1st season, it should probably be 9 or even 10 years for the transfer spend…

  8. I like Wenger’s position on Alexis. If we can get £80 million, let him go otherwise let him play out his contract. Yes, we will lose the money, but frankly Arsenal can afford it and I’d like to see Sanchez playing with the recent signings.
    The question of Alex’s attitude, I believe will not be a problem, he is a professional and always gives everything, once the season gets going he’ll play as always.

  9. Andy, the simple answer is which figures are readily available, but the transfer spend was just added as a guide – after all I have been arguing for years that transfer spend doesn’t directly relate to league position.

  10. Thats 18 taken slots (atm) and 7 to be filled slots.
    Who from these 7,

    Krystian Bielik *
    Cohen Bramall *
    Ainsley Maitland-Niles *
    Donyell Malen *
    Reiss Nelson *
    Eddie Nketiah *
    Joe Willock *

    will do the ting and shine bright?
    Pity Macey did not get the chance to go.

    3 days to the first game of our season. 🙂

  11. Seems strange playing Chel$ 4 times this season and it could be even more (in the other cups).

  12. Tony

    “Andy, the simple answer is which figures are readily available, but the transfer spend was just added as a guide – after all I have been arguing for years that transfer spend doesn’t directly relate to league position.”

    So how do you explain every title, bar one, since Arsenals last success going to either Man Utd, Chelsea or Man City.

    The three biggest net spenders over that period. No it is not an exact science and you can spend a lot today and not achieve much tomorrow. But history proves if you also spend a lot tomorrow, and the next day, you WILL eventually win the title, and that may even be in a season when you didn’t spend that much.

    But as has been said, you don’t always get an instant return on your outlay, but you will, eventually, as will we if we continue to spend a net 30/40 million every summer.

    Spending big wins you the title, eventually.

    That is a fact.

  13. ArsenalinSydney Squad.

    That’s 18 over -21 players in that squad. Other than the obvious players who are still out injured (Carzola, Wilshere and Gabriel) and those still on holiday after International duties (Alexis, Mustafi, Bellerin, Chambers and Holding), we can count another 10 players over-21 who were left behind on this Tour.

    Adding all those players on Tour and those who are injured or still on leave, we still need to let go of 1 player (and another one for each new player to be purchased). That makes 11 over-21 players not making the Squad of 25. Either they have to be loaned out or leave the Arsenal permanently.

  14. MickHazel, I’m slightly confused by your comment.
    You don’t really believe that (to pick one team) $iteh consistently throwing obscene amounts of money at their squad isn’t the reason they’re a top 4 team with recent PL champions mentioned in their history?
    While it’s clear that it doesn’t guarantee success in one year, the repetitive year after year excessive spend they’ve made is pretty much the main reason for them being where they are now…

  15. Andy Mack
    What’s confusing? I am backing up Nitram.
    I am refering to Tony’s persistent refusal to accept the indisputable evidence, as presented yet again by Nitram, that consistent high investment will ultimately result in league titles.

  16. MickHazel, OK. It wasn’t clear (to me at least) if you where questioning Nitram or Tonys odd stance. Tony does seem to confuse spending as a short term solution (which is certainly proven to be ineffective in the majority of cases) with the year on year mega money that’s been thrown around by the big 3 here and by others like PSG.

  17. Mick and Andy

    I agree that Tony’s stance is ‘odd’ given how much he, as an individual, and Untold as an entity, where so keen on the FIFA fair play rules to be applied in full, and ultimately to ‘work’.

    Now by ‘work’ what exactly does that mean?

    Well the way I saw it, and to put it in it’s most basic terms, it meant to put a stop to the ‘mega spending’ of the likes of City and Chelsea. To put a stop to Clubs effectively being bank rolled by either an individual Billionaire or collective group.

    Now if that money didn’t indeed matter, as Tony now seems to be suggesting, why all the fuss about the implementation of FIFA fair play and it’s positive implications for Arsenal?

    As you say. Odd.

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