Is there a way to stop negativity in the Premier League?

We knew what it would be like from the very start: Burnley were certain to play 11 behind the ball from the off.  With 16 goals scored this season they are bottom of the league in every sense.  They came for a draw and got it.

OK it was up to Arsenal to beat them down, and had we got a goal they might have tried to come forward a bit, but season after season we experience teams that come to Arsenal and play the total defensive game.

So how can it be stopped?

There is in fact one very simple way: change the points system.  Get rid of one point for a draw, and just have one point for a win, and nothing else.  A draw in fact is a bad as a defeat and so would encourage teams to go forward more.  Goal difference could remain as the way of separating teams on the same number of wins.

If we were doing that this season the table would look like this…

Current position Position under new system Team Pld W GD
1 1 Manchester City 23 18 41
2 2 Liverpool 22 14 39
3 3 Chelsea 24 13 30
5 4 West Ham United 23 11 10
6 5 Arsenal 21 11 8
4 6 Manchester United 22 11 6
7 7 Tottenham Hotspur 20 11 2
8 8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 10 3
11 9 Aston Villa 21 8 -4
10 10 Leicester City 20 7 -3
9 11 Brighton and Hove Albion 22 6 0
14 12 Brentford 23 6 -12
13 13 Crystal Palace 22 5 -3
12 14 Southampton 22 5 -8
16 15 Everton 20 5 -11
15 16 Leeds United 21 5 -16
19 17 Watford 20 4 -17
17 18 Norwich City 22 4 -32
18 19 Newcastle United 21 2 -22
20 20 Burnley 18 1 -11

Now the changes in position would not be that great.  Indeed eight clubs (marked in bold in the position columns) would be the same and no club would move by more than two places.

So one might think there is really not much point messing about with the system.  But in fact I think the change in approach would make teams attack more.  As it was, Burnley got a minor reward (one point) by defending the entire game.  Under  the new system they would have got no reward.

Thus the approach does not make a huge difference in terms of who might win the league but it makes a difference to individual games.  It makes a difference in terms of whether clubs would think it worthwhile to come out and defend all the time, instead of venturing forward.

And there is another statistic that can be introduced here: the number of shots.

Games in which teams shoot tend to be more exciting; the sort of games supporters like to see.

Rank Club Shots League position
1. Manchester City 422 1
2. Liverpool 420 2
3. Chelsea 354 3
4. Arsenal 310 6
5. Manchester United 304 4
6. West Ham United 301 5
7. Leeds United 294 15
8. Brighton and Hove Albion 279 9
9. Southampton 268 12
10. Tottenham Hotspur 254 7
11. Brentford 252 14
12. Crystal Palace 247 13
13. Everton 247 16
14. Newcastle United 240 18
15. Leicester City 237 10
16. Aston Villa 236 11
17. Watford 234 19
18. Norwich City 222 17
19. Wolverhampton Wanderers 213 8
20. Burnley 191 20

But at the moment as we can see there is a huge difference between the club that shoot and those which don’t.  However the willingness to shoot on sight is not rewarded.   Leeds who shoot a lot and who are 7th in the shooting table are 15th in the league.   Wolverhampton Wanderers who don’t seem to like shooting at all and are 19th in the shooting table are actually 8th in the league.

Indeed Wolverhampton are 8th in the League but 19th in terms of shots.

So if we wanted to go beyond the simplicity of one point for a win, we could do something like three points for a win and one point for a shot rather than one point for a draw.

In essence the current system encourages some teams to play as Burnley played against Arsenal and allows Wolverhampton to climb up the league with no thought about attacking football at all.  Indeed think of what fun the league would be if all we cared about were goals.

If goal difference determined everything the league today would look like this…

Pos now Team P W D L F A GD GD pos
1 Manchester City 23 18 3 2 55 14 41 1
2 Liverpool 22 14 6 2 58 19 39 2
3 Chelsea 24 13 8 3 48 18 30 3
5 West Ham United 23 11 4 8 41 31 10 4
6 Arsenal 21 11 3 7 33 25 8 5
4 Manchester United 22 11 5 6 36 30 6 6
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 10 4 7 19 16 3 7
7 Tottenham Hotspur 20 11 3 6 26 24 2 8
9 Brighton and Hove Albion 22 6 12 4 23 23 0 9
10 Leicester City 20 7 5 8 34 37 -3 10
13 Crystal Palace 22 5 9 8 31 34 -3 11
11 Aston Villa 21 8 2 11 28 32 -4 12
12 Southampton 22 5 10 7 26 34 -8 13
16 Everton 20 5 4 11 24 35 -11 14
20 Burnley 18 1 9 8 16 27 -11 15
14 Brentford 23 6 5 12 26 38 -12 16
15 Leeds United 21 5 7 9 24 40 -16 17
19 Watford 20 4 2 14 23 40 -17 18
18 Newcastle United 21 2 9 10 21 43 -22 19
17 Norwich City 22 4 4 14 13 45 -32 20

There would not be much movement, but the incentive to attack would surely be enhanced.

11 Replies to “Is there a way to stop negativity in the Premier League?”

  1. The zero points in draws is interesting though the shots one is impractical since teams that want the point will simply shoot from wherever which would create a farcical game.

    But I get the point. The current 3/1/0 points for win/draw/loss was devised when game’s statistical analysis was low. In the event of a draw it rewards the team that sat back and absorbed pressure. With current advancements in analytic softwares that can trace almost everything there need to be something that rewards effort. Statistics like Possession, attempts, attempts on target, distance covered, balls recovered, successful tackles, passes completed, chances created, purnishment for fouls committed, cards earned e.t.c need to come into play with draws for league games and 2 leg knockout games.

    These can be weighted onto a formula and 1 point added to the team that wins these in the event of a draw which would give the better team 2 points and the other team 1 point. We would then have 4 points for win, 2 for the better drawing team and 1 for the worse team.

    Of course all these is for us to reflect and enjoy ourselves otherwise I doubt anybody would be willing to effect the change.

  2. I’d suggest doing it the ice hockey way.

    3 points are in play for each game
    win, 3 points
    If tie, 1 point for each team.
    Penatly shoot-out decides who gets the 3rd point in play.

  3. I’d just like to see competent refereeing applied to the game as the first step in making it more exciting and attractive.
    When certain teams get the advantage of ‘incompetent’ referees that allow them to time waste, foul to break up promising attacks or general play, harassing officials, injuring the real ballers.
    How effective and entertaining would Saka be if he wasn’t being beaten up every game??

  4. We have a brilliant game that is watched and played the world over. The people that run the game tweak the rules over the years to improve it, such as the pass back rule, and ocassionalky do something more dramatic, such as changing the points system.
    At the moment, the best teams do best, and the worst teams generally go down. So there is not much to fix.
    But the parameters in which the game are played were devised over 100 years ago, such as the size of the pitch, and as far as I know haven’t changed much if at all.
    But in the last 100 odd years, players have changed. The average height of a person, for example, has changed significantly. Diet has changed. So now we have a game that was devised when players were smaller, slower, and had less stamina. So we now have a game with parameters that really best suit….women. (Goalies over 6 feet 4 inches are commonplace today, whereas goalies under 6ft were commonplace 50 years ago, but are now non existent in the PL.)
    For the mens game a simple change would be to make the goal bigger, say 2 inches higher and three inches wider.
    Most shots that hit the woodwork today would be goals.Players would shoot more, because the ratio of shots to goals would improve. Teams that relied on all out defence would be disadvantaged. Those bent on attack would be favoured.
    Is that too simple?

  5. Tony

    “Get rid of one point for a draw, and just have one point for a win, and nothing else. A draw in fact is a bad as a defeat and so would encourage teams to go forward more”.

    The problem with that is a thrilling 3 – 3 draw would get you no reward. A boring 1 – 0 hung on to for 85 minutes would get you all 3. Not really a solution. On the other hand:

    Dublin Gooner

    I’ve heard that idea muted before and I have to say I agree. Such a simple solution. Should of been done years ago.

  6. Nitram,

    thus the ice-hockey solution. Which by the way would train many more players into shooting penalties…

    Dublin Gooner

    Yep, I fully agree. Would be very easy. The NFL started protecting quarterbacks more 2 decades orso ago. And now many NFL games have larger scores and more touchdowns. Same logic.

  7. On the theme of encouraging more goal scoring, how about awarding a bonus point for every three goals scored by a team in a game? Similiar to the bonus point for four tries or more in Rugby

  8. @Davsta – you got to the heart of the problem.

    There is no need for change if corruption is not addressed. Get rid of PGMOL.


  9. Chris

    “The NFL started protecting quarterbacks more 2 decades or so ago”

    I see where you are coming from but I just cant see it happening. In effect, the equivalent to that solution in the Premier League is to protect the ‘gifted’ and ‘skillful’ players, even teams.

    Unfortunately in this country, skillful players are still, after all these years, often seen as ‘soft’, and skillful teams as playing that tiki taki foreign nonsense.

    Teams such as Burnley and Stoke, are still admired and lauded when they kick a superior ‘footballing’ team off the park, as are managers such as Dyche, Pulis and Allydice who advocate such tactics.

    Again it’s down to the media who lap it up when Neanderthals get one over on the Artisans.

    It’s cultural and it aint changing any time soon. ‘It’s tuff up North’ as they say.


    “Get rid of PGMOL”.

    Again it just isn’t going to happen. Okay, there’s been a little more criticism of referees this season but by and large the media stand steadfast behind our men in black as still the best in the World.

    Unfortunately Menace anyone who has influence doesn’t see anything wrong with The PGMOL, or The FA, or The Premier League for that matter. None of them bodies are ever even questioned let alone criticised or heaven forbid held to account.

    Again, it aint gonna happen.

    The thing that makes making the goals bigger such an attractive solution is that it isn’t controversial. It’s non political. It’s non critical.

    Other solutions are saying, or suggesting at least:

    This organisation is corrupt. These people are incompetent. This system is broken. This approach is wrong.

    In other words someone or something is to blame, and blame is a concept these people just do not comprehend.

    Making the goals bigger points a finger at nobody.

    In other words the perfect solution.

  10. Three points for a win is fine
    One point for a score draw
    Zero points for a no score draw

    might shake things up a bit

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