by Walter Broeckx
Does the Champions league has an effect on the season or not? A question that is often asked but has it ever been researched?
Now we shouldn’t be complaining about the extra pressure we put on ourselves when we play in the Champions League. We earn a lot of money by joining in this competition and like the saying goes: no pain, no gain. But playing in the champions league can cost you points in the Premier league. Do these games win you the title or make you lose the title? I will try to see how it affected the league last year and if there is any difference between playing at home or away after a champions league game.
There is no better way than just to check what happened last season. But I only checked it with the group stages as for the next round it depends a lot on how far you get. If you don’t go further after the first round you have not as many games and then it is more difficult to treat every team in the same way.
In fact there are some 15-16% of the points to be won in the Pl after games in the group stages of the CL. I also tried to calculate what it would have meant if we kept the same form for each team after the CL games.
Last season Arsenal played 3 games at home and 3 away after a champions league match. We won two games at home and away, we played 2-2 at West Ham and lost one game at home to Chelsea. A total of 13 points on a possible 18. We won 6 points at home and 7 away. If we would have kept this form the whole season we would have made a total of 82 points. In reality we had 75. So we won more points after CL games than average.
Manchester United also played 3 games away and 3 at home. From the home games they won one, lost one and had one draw. From the away games they lost two and won one. So a total of 7 points on a possible 18. United won 4 points at home and 3 away. If Utd would have had this form running the whole season they would have ended with 44 points. In reality they got 85. United lost more points when playing the group stages than average.
The 3rd team in the CL was Liverpool and they also had 3 home games and 3 away. At home they won one, had one draw and lost one (to Arsenal) and away from home they won 2 and lost one. A total of 10 points on a possible 18. Liverpool won 4 points at home and 6 away from home. Liverpool on this form would have reached 63 points and that is exactly what they got. It didn’t matter for Liverpool if they played CL or not.
But what to think of Chelsea’s fixture list. They had 5 home games and only one away game which they won. They won 4 of their home games and had one draw against Everton. So a 16 points on a possible 18 points. Chelsea won 13 points at home and 3 away. If they would have kept that form the whole season they would have got 101 points. They got 86 points. So Chelsea won more points when playing in the group stages of the CL than they did for the rest of the season.
So this means that during the group stages Arsenal and Chelsea won more points than during the rest of the season. For Liverpool it didn’t matter but for United it was clear that they struggled during the group stages in the CL. Maybe this was the reason for Ferguson to put out a bit of a weaker team against Glasgow Rangers?
If we take the points of the three teams that played as many games at home as they did play away we get a total of 14 points won at home (from a possible 27) and 16 points (again from a possible 27) won away from home. So it looks that playing away from home could be an advantage.
And if we include the points from Chelsea we get 27 points on a possible total of 42 home points to be won. And we get a total of 19 points won on a possible total of 30.
In percentages you get a success rate of 64% at home and 63% away. So only marginally better but not that much difference between the points won at home and away. Not as much as one would expect at first thought. But then again we talk about top teams who should have a squad that should be able to deal with many games both at home and away.
When we compare United and Chelsea it is clear that United lost the title in the games after a CL games in the group stages. Or maybe better said Chelsea didn’t lose the title after the champions league group matches. United had by far the worst record of the top 4 teams that played in the champions league. A very poor record if you compare it to the rest of their season. If Chelsea also would have had a normal schedule (3 home/3away) then we could draw some more definite conclusions on being it an advantage of playing at home or not. But with the fixtures being so different it is hard to tell.
But also this season we will not be able to make a clear conclusion as the fixture list is very strange to say the least. Tottenham plays 5 home games after a CL game and one away. United have 4 home games and 2 away. Chelsea must travel 4 games away and 2 at home. And Arsenal will be like a rock band on tour this season as we have to play 5 games away from our home after a champions league game. The only game at home is against Newcastle when I will be in the Clock End.
So I guess we will have to wait for the season after this season when all the participants have 3 away and 3 home games after a CL match to really have reliable evidence if it is an advantage to play at home after a CL match or not. So the EPL would do me a big favour if they could come up with a very balanced fixture list next time around.
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