by Tony Attwood
In the last article – Why Arsenal and Tottenham will end up with identical points this season – I started to outline the idea that one can use home and away tables in order to predict final outcomes for the season.
Continuing the theme here are the home and away results of the top seven as of today…
Arsenal’s home form can readily be seen here to be worthy of a top two place, but the away form has more in common with seventh placed Wolverhampton.
Using the home/away analysis I predicted that Arsenal and Tottenham would end up each on 75 points and that either could get 3rd place on goal difference. With the clubs just two goals different in the GD table, there is no telling which will be the higher.
Moving on to the other two clubs involved in the battle for 3rd and 4th we now ask…
What of Chelsea? Unlike Arsenal and Tottenham they have had half their games at home and half away so far this season, and have collected 35 points at home and 28 points away – a much more closely matched home and away form than Arsenal. It makes for 2.19 points at home and 1.75 away – both of which can be rounded up to two points per game.
With three home game and three away games to go we can estimate 12 points to come out of the six games giving them 75 points, which is coincidentally exactly what we have estimated for both Tottenham and Arsenal, using the same technique.
Manchester United have a slightly better home form than that away from home – but only slightly. They have 32 points at home and 29 points away. Again two points per game. That suggests 12 points for them taking them to 73 points.
Overall this gives three teams on 75 points, one of whom will miss out on goal difference and Manchester United two points behind on 73 taking up sixth spot and playing in the Europa league next season.
However there are two other factors to take into account: whether top six clubs are playing each other, and the recent form of each club.
Here we might also note that Manchester United have two “top six” games, playing Manchester City and Chelsea. Chelsea themselves have two such matches, playing Liverpool and Manchester United.
Tottenham play Manchester City – but in fact they play them three times (twice in the Champions League), leaving only Arsenal as a team from the group of four vying for the 3rd and 4th place, who don’t have any top six games to play.
Finally looking at both league and cup matches for the last five games for each of these four teams we find…
Tottenham: 2 defeats, 1 draw, 2 victories
Arsenal: 1 defeat, 1 draw, 3 victories
Chelsea: 1 defeat, 1 draw, 3 victories
Manchester United: 3 defeats and 2 victories.
Put all this together and it looks like Manchester United have the lowest chance of reaching the top four on all counts. They have the worst current record of the clubs in the top six, they have two games against other “top six” clubs left to play, and the prediction based on points per game so far suggests they will end up two points behind the pack.
Chelsea and Arsenal both have recent records of games which are slightly better than Tottenham’s. Chelsea have two top six games to play, and Tottenham one – although Tottenham also have two potentially draining games against Manchester City in the Champions League. Arsenal have no top six games left, but do have the bulk of their games away from home, where they tend to be weaker. But we do have a game in hand – and we have Europa rather than Champions League games to play.
There are thus pros and cons all round, but to me everything suggests Manchester United will miss out on the top four and so will either Chelsea or Tottenham. I suspect it will be Tottenham, for despite them winning their first match at the new stadium, and despite the massive hype that surrounds the new stadium’s launch I still think the curse of the new ground might cost them at least one point in the remainder of the season at home, and that one point could be all that is needed to see a club end up fifth instead of fourth.
I am going for
- 3rd: Arsenal 75 points
- 4th: Chelsea 75 points
- 5th: Tottenham 73 points
- 6th: Manchester United 73 points
But of course, my predictive powers are not among my strong points. And you may already have noticed that in my previous article I gave Tottenham the same points as Arsenal and Chelsea. It all depends on how many factors one introduces.