Which teams in the Premier League are overachiving and ready for a fall?



By Tony Attwood

The media is full of Arsenal being the team that has won the FA Cup more times than anyone else, and have just been knocked out by a Championship side, and that in itself seems interesting.  Why wait until we have been knocked out of the cup to remind readers that we have indeed won the cup more than anyone?   And indeed why miss out the fact that this top of the charts position in terms of Cup wins was primarily down to one man – a certain Mr Wenger who also won the cup more than any other manager in the history of football (seven in case you were wondering).

But no, the articles have been full of “Arsenal’s stodgy performance” and a “lamentable FA Cup exit to Nottingham Forest” which we are told was a “collective failing”.

The central problem we are also told was the “lightweight nature of the central midfield.”

So who was missing?

Thomas Partey of course who has made 16 starts this season.    But also Mohamed Elneny, who we have been told all season should be got rid of because he was not up to it.  And Granit Xhaka who were have been told constantly was a menace to the team because of his tackling (despite the fact that when available Mr Arteta always picks him).

So we used Albert Sambi Lokonga and Charlie Patino (the fans’ favourite) and they struggled.  

And this does seem strange to me that the media could spend all season telling us that Xhaka was a liability and Elneny was no good at all, and yet when they have gone, they tell us how much we missed them!

Which also makes me wonder: do we actually have a decent squad at all, or are we back to the media’s desire for everyone to be thrown out and replaced?

As it happens the Football Observatory has just published a list analysing which teams are over achieving and which are underachieving – the measures being made on the basis of what each club might be expected to be doing giving the individual ratings of its players, against how it has been doing as shown by its league position.

The most overachieving squad in the Premier League, they suggest, are Tottenham Hotspur.  The most underachieving squad is Newcastle United.

The list of the most overachieving clubs in the Premier League in order of most overachievingness (or should that be overachievingity?) are

         1: Tottenham Hotspur

         2: West Ham United

         3: Manchester United 

         4: Wolverhampton Wanderers

         5: Arsenal

         6: Leicester City

         7: Chelsea FC

         8: Manchester City 

All the rest are underachieving according to their statistics, with the most underachieving of all being Newcastle United.

This would suggest that in time those near the top of the overachieving list will be found out and will start slipping down the table.   This won’t please Manchester United who are currently in 7th in the league, nor come to that Tottenham who is seems need to keep on overachieving in order to win their games in hand and overtake Arsenal.

Now, this exercise by Football Observatory might be left at this point, but there is one other bit of comparing one can do – which the Observatory did not do – and that is to see where these overachieving teams are in the last 10 match table…

Premier League Form (Last 10)
Overachieving pos Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 8 Manchester City 10 10 0 0 31 7 24 30
2 Liverpool 10 6 2 2 23 10 13 20
3 5 Arsenal 10 6 0 4 21 12 9 18
4 1 Tottenham Hotspur 10 5 3 2 14 8 6 18
5 7 Chelsea 10 4 5 1 18 12 6 17
6 3 Manchester Utd 10 5 2 3 14 12 2 17
7 4 Wolverhampton Wand 10 4 3 3 5 5 0 15
8 2 West Ham United 10 4 2 4 17 16 1 14
9 6 Leicester City 10 4 2 4 18 19 -1 14
10 Southampton 10 3 4 3 12 17 -5 13

What this tells us is that the eight over-achieving teams in the Premier League (meaning that they are doing better as a team than we might expect from the individual rankings of their players) are all in the top nine in the Premier League.

Now over-achievingness is probably best defined as the additional value that the manager and his tacticians put into the club to get more out of the players than the statistics suggest should be possible.

So we can see Tottenham in getting to fourth across the last ten games are overachieving more than any other club to get there.  

Of course, everything depends on how long players can continue to deliver more than their individual rankings, but the worry must be that it can’t last forever.  Being dependent on overachieving is not necessarily a long term tactic.

Which would mean that Tottenham, West Ham United and Manchester United, in particular, are most likely to be operating a slightly dangerous path.  Or alternatively, it could mean that their managers are so utterly brilliant that they will continue to overachieve until the end of the season.  And maybe even thereafter.  It will be interesting to see.

Arsenal certainly underachieved against Forest, but maybe that just shows the value of some of our missing men such as Xhaka and Elneny.  I am not sure our defensive midfield would have been so readily overrun, with them in the way.

2 Replies to “Which teams in the Premier League are overachiving and ready for a fall?”

  1. One would need to know by how much each club is adjudged to be overachieving in order to draw even the most basic of conclusions. One or more clubs may be alleged to be overachieving by just one point which is so negligible as to be close to meaningless. While others may have “overachieved” by many points more than expected.

    The other thing is that a club is only overachieving in relation to other clubs since you couldn’t have all 20 premier league clubs all overachieving (in league terms anyway).

    Is there anyway of showing a full table as to who is overachieving/underachieving and by how much?

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