The statistical approach to how well teams will do this season



By Tony Attwood

The newspapers and websites are full of predictions about how well various clubs will do in the coming season, and the consensus among them (be they those that claim to have nicked time on one of the most expensive computers in the country, or those that let their journalists make simple predictions) is that for the first time ever in the history of the Premier League the top four will remain the same next season, as it was last season.

But Untold, as you may know, likes to do things with numbers, so instead of lying through our teeth about having a supercomputer, we used a desktop calculator and look at three figures.

First, the points per game (PPG) for the seasons 2020/21 and 2021/22, and then for the last six games in 2021/22, just to look for any trends.

Pos Team PPG 20/21 PPG 21/22 Increase PPG last six 21/22 increase
1 Manchester City 2.27 2.45 0.18 2.67 0.22
2 Liverpool 1.82 2.42 0.60 2.67 0.25
3 Chelsea 1.76 1.95 0.19 1.50 -0.45
4 Tottenham Hotspur 1.63 1.87 0.24 2.33 0.46
5 Arsenal 1.61 1.82 0.21 2.00 0.18
6 Manchester United 1.95 1.53 -0.42 0.66 -0.87
7 West Ham United 1.71 1.47 -0.24 0.83 -0.64
8 Leicester City 1.74 1.39 -0.35 1.67 0.28
9 Brighton and Hove 1.08 1.34 0.26 1.83 0.49
10 Wolverhampton W 1.18 1.34 0.16 0.33 -1.01
11 Newcastle United 1.18 1.29 0.11 2.00 0.71

 

So let’s see what this tells us.

Clubs always increasing – that is to say doing better in 2021/2 than in 2020/21 and then doing better in the last six games of 2021.2 than the season as a whole.

Pos Team PPG 20/21 PPG 21/22 Increase PPG last six 21/22 increase
1 Manchester City 2.27 2.45 0.18 2.67 0.22
2 Liverpool 1.82 2.42 0.60 2.67 0.25
4 Tottenham Hotspur 1.63 1.87 0.24 2.33 0.46
5 Arsenal 1.61 1.82 0.21 2.00 0.18
9 Brighton and Hove 1.08 1.34 0.26 1.83 0.49
11 Newcastle United 1.18 1.29 0.11 2.00 0.71

 

Amazingly six out of the 11 clubs looked at have improvement in terms of points per game both between 2020/21 and 2021/2, and between 2021/2 as a whole and the last six games of the season.

Contrasting with this, where are the clubs in decline?  In fact there were only two clubs that got fewer points per game in 2021/22 as opposed to 2020/21 AND got fewer points per game in the last six games of 2021/22 as opposed to the season as a whole.

Pos Team PPG 20/21 PPG 21/22 Increase PPG last six 21/22 increase
6 Manchester United 1.95 1.53 -0.42 0.66 -0.87
7 West Ham United 1.71 1.47 -0.24 0.83 -0.64

 

These clubs: Manchester United and West Ham United, will quite probably turn themselves around at some stage, but the trend has to be overcome as well as an improvement made, and I suspect there’s enough work there to last two seasons – if they can do it at all.

Now let’s look at a couple of special cases: Brighton and Hove on the one hand and Newcastle on the other.  Brighton sold one of their best players last summer, and overall made a £15m profit.  It looks like they might do the same again and ultimately such activity must have some effect.

Newcastle on the other hand have all the money they need and then a nation’s worth left over so can easily keep spending.

A league table based on the points per game taken from the last six games of the season would give us a league table in one year’s time of

Pos last season pos 2022/23 Team Pts
1 1 Manchester City 101
2 2 Liverpool 101
4 3 Tottenham Hotspur 89
5 4 Arsenal 76
12 5 Newcastle United 76
16 6 Brighton 70

 

So there we see, Arsenal and Newcastle tied on 76 points.  If we want to push the model to breaking point, Arsenal do get 4th because Arsenal’s goal difference comes out at +19 extrapolating from the last six games of last season, while Newcastle’s will come out as +6.  

But of course this only takes into account the squads each team had last season.  Arsenal and Newcastle have been investing.

Newcastle have spent £63.7m on players including 

  • Sven Botman from Lille for £31.9m
  • Matt Targett from Astone Villa for £15m
  • Nick Pope from Burnley for £10m
  • Kevin Mbabu from Wolfsburg for £6.4m

Arsenal’s transfers you will know about of course, but as a reminder of the highlights we would think of Jesus, Zinchenko, Vieira,, Turner and Marquinhos.

So do we get fourth over Newcastle, and do Tottenham manage to squeeze up into third, with Chelsea slipping backward?

That is certainly the outcome based on this data.

3 Replies to “The statistical approach to how well teams will do this season”

  1. There are lies, damn lies and statistics. The most obvious omission is the effect of the mid season world cup on the different teams. Its an unknown beyond the fact it’s likely to hit the bigger teams with more players in squads that go further in the competition harder. Its hard to predict, but “lets pretend its not happening”, this articles approach, doesn’t cut it.

    The second obvious omission is Europe. If a team like West Ham with a relatively thin squad has a long European campaign one year (essentially an extra half a season) and nothing the the previous year that is obviously going to affect the squad and will be reflected in poorer league results. So what’s the assumption for next season ? I know its “let’s pretend its not happening” again.

    Basically this just takes some of the games played, pretends the rest never happened and spews out some junk numbers. Garbage in, garbage out.

  2. I just think there are too many variables to predict the end of year table. And, the variables are unequal or we could with equal confidence predict that Man City were going to finish first or perhaps Brighton. We can predict generally where a team will finish but this would have a sizeable error attached to it. Personally, I take it all with a huge grain of salt and watch the matches.

  3. ‘Expert opinion’ changes like the weather, if Arsenal beat Sevilla today we’ll be hailed as realistic challengers to Liverpool and Man City but if we lose all the deadwood pundits will write us off as a busted flush for top four and if we draw it’s anybody’s guess? I won’t spend more than a few seconds wondering about what the deadwoods think either way.

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