What is a super computer and does it tell us anything we don’t know?

By Tony Attwood

Every year around this time, websites start to tell us that they have had access to the results produced by a super computer to tell us who is going to win the league.

They don’t actually tell us what a super computer is, nor indeed why for something as simple as predicting football results one needs one.

Generally supercomputers are used for quantum mechanics, weather forecasting, climate research, oil and gas exploration, molecular modelling (and the simulations of the early moments of the universe, airplane and spacecraft aerodynamics, the detonation of nuclear weapons, and nuclear fusion).

They are not used to predict football results, and indeed if someone has nipped into the lab when things are quiet to use their employers supercomputer they are liable to be in real trouble when the logs are read and their activity is found out.

There are 380 games in a league season, and around 260 of these have been played giving a complete guide to form.  That leaves 120 games to play and for their results to be assigned.  Assigning 120 results is hardly the same as quantum mechanics.  It could be done on a laptop.

And really one wonders if it is worth doing when the result is that Manchester City win the league by 23 points from Manchester United from Leicester City and then an obviously resurgent Liverpool in fourth.

The two Europa League spots go to West Ham and Chelsea.

After that comes Aston Villa in 7th, Tottenham Hots in 8th, Everton 9th and Arsenal 10th.  We end up with sixty points, five short of a Europa place and six short of a “fourth is not a trophy” Champions League spot.

Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United go down, which is exactly the same as it is now.

Comparing Arsenal’s position in the 12 games remaining we seem to get six wins, five draws and just one defeat.  Which is interesting because if the alleged super computer is wrong on three of those five draws and we win them instead of draw them we will be in sixth position.

Our final goal scoring tally is 45 for and 33 against.  That means in the remaining 12 games we score only 11 goals and concede six.

We thus end up with the third best defence in the league behind Manchester City and one goal behind Chelsea.

Now this is interesting because at the moment we are scoring 1.31 goals a game, and they are taking us down to less than one goal a game, which within the context of 12 games is a huge drop in goalscoring ability.  This would seem to suggest that they are considering that both our main strikers (Lacazette and Aubameyang) are going to stop scoring, and that no one else will step up into their place.

To be clear I am not talking about winning more games here, but rather saying that the alleged supercomputer has suggested that our goalscoring will decline considerably from this current level.  

Can that be justified? I would think probably not.

There is little joy to be found in the prediction.  We are not the lowest London club (Fulham and Palace are) but we are the lowest of the big six.

It is of course in real life going to be difficult to rise up through the charts once more because in reality a rise from our current position also depends on other clubs doing not so well.   But really, you don’t need a super computer to tell you that.