Is the league getting more difficult to win? An Untold investigation.

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By Walter Broeckx

Are we going to see a different season?  And by this I don’t mean just Arsenal but also how our rivals are doing this season so far.

To try and answer this I suggest that we start with the league table as  it is now (after the Wolves game) and compare it with the league table as it was last season after the first 12 games.

Chelsea are top with 28 points and this is the same number as they had after 12 games last season. So a status quo one could say. Last season they had a goal difference of 32 goals and this season is is down to 23. After some impressive wins in the first games the results don’t come as easy for the moment.

In second place we have United with 24 points and last season they had the same number as Chelsea (28) so this means that they have 4 points less compared to last season. Their goal difference was 17 then and now 11. So both in points and goals they have gone backwards.

Arsenal are in third place and last season after 12 games we had 23 points and we were in 4th place.  This season after 12 games we also  have 23 points but are in third place. This season our goal difference is 13 and last season it was 11. So slightly better but not much. And I would like to point out that United has conceded more goals than Arsenal so far. And I must say this surprises me a bit.

In fourth place we find Manchester City with 21 points and last season they also had 21 points. So much money spent once again and still only the same amount of points. But a better place in the league table is something one cannot deny. Last season they had a goal difference of 13 goals and this season only 5. Again, so much money spent and not much improvement.

In fifth we have Newcastle United with 17 points. I will leave them out as they are new this season and I cannot compare them.

In sixth place we have…. Bolton Wanderers with 16 points and that is the same amount as last season in points. And this 16 points was good for 11th place last season.   So an important improvement in the league place but not in points. And a positive goal difference of 1 (one) goal.

And in seventh place we find our  friendly neighbours from the Lane. They also have 16 points so far. But if you compare this with the 27 points and the third place they occupied last season you don’t need to have a high IQ to come to the conclusion that they are doing not as good as last season. Dropped 11 (eleven) points compared to last season. And their goal difference which was +7 last season has turned in to a negative of 1 goal.  I think for the moment they are starting to realize and maybe we should also keep in mind that playing in the CL and competing at the top of the EPL is not an easy thing to do.

Sunderland have also 16 points and last season they had 18 points so they also have got not as many points as last season.

And in 9th place we find Liverpool who also have 16 points and last season they had 19 points so this is also not as good as last season. And also their goal difference is bad compared to last season when they had +10 and now -2.

The same story goes for Aston Villa who also had 19 last season and this season 16. Their goal difference is the same -3.

Next we find WBA but no material to compare them but like Newcastle they have made a very bright start. As we have found out if I may add.

In 12th place we find Everton with 15 points and last season they had 23 points. So this is an 8 point deficit compared to last season.  Last season they had a positive goal difference of 10 goals and this season it is 2. Also note that last season they were in 5th position with the same amount of points as Arsenal. So one could say that together with Tottenham they had a bad start of the season.

In 13th place we find Blackburn with 15 points and last season they were in 8th place with 19 points. So also not as good as last season.

Next team is Blackpool which I cannot compare but they also are not doing too bad I think.

Fulham in 15th place with 13 points and last season were in 16th place with 12 points.

Next are Stoke and they have the same amount of points as last season and I not going to talk any more about them. The same goes for Birmingham who are 17th with 12 points compared to the 13 points and place they had last season. Good to see those kicking teams low in the table.

Next is Wigan with 11 points and that is the same as last season. Wolverhampton have 9 points and last season had 12 so they are in trouble. And at the bottom of the league we find West Ham with 8 points and that is the same amount as last year but then they managed to survive.

So in general we can say that only a handful of teams have the same amount of points as last season: Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City if you allow me to focus on the top teams only.

All the other teams have less points and some of them really have a lot of points less like Tottenham and Everton.

Overall one could say that the league has become more difficult. A feeling I had before I started my research and which is being confirmed with the actual numbers. It could also mean that the champion will have not as many points at the end as last season. But we have to wait another 26 games to know that for sure.

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21 Replies to “Is the league getting more difficult to win? An Untold investigation.”

  1. The UEFA Financial Fair play rules are designed to create a more level playing field and while they are not fully in place yet they are already having an effect on the transfer market and on clubs generally trying to cut costs. Empty seats around many grounds could also be encouraging teams to try to play more ‘open’ football in order to be seen as more entertaining. It’s a huge leap of faith to assume that such factors are having an effect on the competiveness of the EPL but it’s certainly the case that the three promoted clubs have rarely looked more likely to survive – and by playing pretty good football, most of the time.
    It’s poor old Spurs I feel sorry for – and, according to their latest accounts, they’ve lost money getting there. Sad.

  2. I feel there are more games ending in draws this year, and hence lower points for most teams. Is that right?!

  3. The media decided that they’d like more ‘drama’ and ‘competition’.

    So they arranged it.

  4. I like the way you have done your reserch Walter, i for one felt that the leaders had a fairly easy fixture list on paper at the start of this season, allways handy to have points on the board early on, would you say that the fixtures favoured said teams, and can you tell me how the fixtures are worked out by the FA. To be picky, it appears to me that when games are arranged, and teams play midweek, it nearly allways appears to me that the said teams play their games befor us, so in fact we are allways playing catch up, and our games in Europe usually are later in the week so we have to play on Sunday,i am not like you Walter with research but i do know this catch up we do each year is wearing a bit thin. Could there be some dodgy dealing there or am i just paranoid

  5. Arsenalist, I came to the same conclusion as you did. If we would have won those 2 games we would be top in the table.
    So far Chelsea and United haven’t lost any easy games and points, but it will happen as it always happens in a season. But I do think that from the easy games we must be very focused to win them.
    Losing or getting a draw against the other top teams is not a complete disaster but we must be very alert to not losing any more ‘easy’ points. If there still are easy points that is.

  6. Thanks for your time and analysis Walter.

    6 points separate 18th place from 5th place. Are we finally seeing parity?

  7. Rhys I agree with you. But I agree with Walter too (as usual) just question is why? We all expected it to be harder than ever. Just from different reasons, we all believed that Citeh, Tottenham (and eventually Vila). But really no one suspected “lower teams” to play such important role. At last we got used to such slips, but Manure and Chavski didnt. And there is maybe our chance, maybe our experience in surviving such nightmares can bring us something this year.

  8. Armin, I’d disagree with you, although without too much by way of evidence.

    Aston Villa lost their manager over the issue of transfer fees, and that meant total disruption, and little for newcomers – a selling club in fact.

    Tottenham have brought in six players or something like that to cope with the Champs League, but if you look at Arry’s record it is something like “buy 10 and 3 will be ok”.

    Liverpool were never likely to survive the trauma, and the new owners are not putting a fortune in to rebuild.

    I’d say the top four of Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea and Man C is what we might expect. But there are weaknesses in the other three. City are buying too fast, and can’t let anyone settle. Chelsea are desperately trying to re-shape to meet the finance rules and Man U’s squad is old, with little money to buy again.

    Two more years and the old “big four” thing will be gone.

  9. Is there a chance that maybe things have got a little easier if more teams are dropping more points?

  10. Yes I agree to that. But my point was, seasons ago we would storm over WBA or lost from Hull and it would be “ah just same old Arsenal”. Now it is totally new situation, in which it is not “weak, low, underaged” Arsenal squad that slipping points. It get really slippery all around and not because of new “candidates” for crown, but because of teams who, in best, hoping for spots from 8th to 14th position.
    I also agree with fact that big 4 will be gone soon, and to me right now is unpredictable what will falow. Big 2,as before Abramovich era, or big 10 (what do you know, financial rules obviously helped, as it look now, smaller teams).

  11. So why are there more teams worse off than teams better off? It is because you have left out last year’s relegated teams and NOT compared them with the newly promoted teams. Most likely, the newly promoted teams as a group have grabbed more points and goals than last year’s relegated teams. Your flawed analysis draws the wrong conclusion because you are not adjusting for what people better qualified in math than you are calling SURVIVAL BIAS. If you apply your flawed approach on previous years, all what you will conclude (unless all newly promoted teams are relegated in the same season) is that the title is getting harder to win every year, but that’s the whole point with the current league system, it’s evolutionary, soccer improves with competition. Surprised?

  12. Sorry iPhone fat finger…
    If you adjust for survival bias, same points and goals compared with last year is in fact slightly better believe it or not, but it does not feel like it because opponents are evolving too, and harder to beat as a result.

  13. As always i enjoy reading your blog. What this tell us is the times when one or two teams can go through a season without slipping up is gone. No matter how hard it is to accept loosing at home, we are far from out of the title race. I have a really good feeling about our team these days. Players coming back from injuries (except vermaelen) will strenghten the squad. Looking at the players we have had on the bench the last couple of matches… Not only one but 3-4 world class players.

    Tony: really hope your prediction comes true, and the financial rules will weaken our main rivals (cfc and man u). With our financial strength and the base of young players with amazing qualities we will fight for the title this year, and many years to Come.

  14. Archimedes I understand your point but I found it difficult to compare the new teams with the relegated ones.
    But if you look at the relegated teams Portsmouth then had 12 points, Burnley 7 and Hull 6.
    But you must remember that only Burnley was a new team in the league.
    So to be right one should compare the three new teams then with the 3 new teams now. The new teams last season were Wolves, Birmingham and Burnley.
    Wolves had 14 points and Birmingham 13 points and like I said Burnley 7.
    This time Newcastle has 17 points (so better than Wolves one coud say)
    WBA has 16 points so better than Birmingham with their 13 points.
    And Blackpool has 14 points and that is 7 better than Burnley had last season.

    But I think I pointed out that the new teams are doing better this season. But it is just not easy to compare them.
    So I left them out and focused on the 17 teams that stayed in the league and if they got more points than last season or not.

  15. Walter the 3 relagated teams in 09/10 got 25 Pts together at this stage of the season while the newly promoted teams in 10/11 season are as a group 45 pts or so (u did not list exactly but worked out from what nearby table teams got) so as a group 20 pts better off, a difference which is equal to the shortfall of the surviving 17 teams. Comparing performance of newly promoted teams in 10/11 vs 09/10 is a useful but IRRELEVANT In the context of your original analysis. Since the 17 survivers are on average 20/17 pts worse off, Arsenal is one of the teams better off, in fact much better off. However, before you draw such strong conclusion, u have to compare the quality of opposition in fixtures to date in season 10/11 vs 09/10 but th

  16. Fat finger again…but that requres a different, qualitative analysis. On the whole, I like your quantitative, fact based resear

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