By Tony Attwood
What does the league table tell us after two games – and come to that just how far is it possible for a club to rise or fall from the second game of the season to the end of the season?
A year ago, after two games West Ham United were top of the league with maximum points and the best goal difference in the league. They finished the season in 7th. This year after two games they are 19th.
Which suggests that we need to be fairly cautious about early league tables.
The biggest drop between the table between the second game and the end of the season last time around was Everton who went from 7th the 16th.
The biggest rise between the table after two games and the end of the season was Arsenal who went from 19th to 5th.
As for the regularity of good and bad starts, we find that yes, West Ham are the most irregular of teams, being top after two games a year ago and now being 19th. Liverpool (third last season after two, down to 12th) and Manchester United (6th down to 20th) are also big sliders.
But this is not just chaotic movement, for there is something to be learned here. If we look at the table below which shows us the league table after two games last season, and then compare that with the league table after two games this season we fiind hardly any teams in anything like the same position:
The Premier League after two games 2021
|1||West Ham United||2||0||0||8||3||5||6||7||19|
|4||Brighton and Hove Albion||2||0||0||4||1||3||6||9||8|
However casting one’s eye down the “End” column which shows where the club was at the end of the season, we do find seven of the clubs who were in the bottom half after two games, ended up in the bottom half. But of the relegated teams, after two games one was in 11th, one in 17th and only one (Norwich) was in a relegation position.
As for the top four after two games last season two of them were in the top four after two games. Manchester City however were ninth.
So let’s look at these two sections now. The bottom four after two games. might just contain two of the teams that will be relegated at the end of the season…
And if that figure were repeated this season throw up a surprise. We might feel that Southampton don’t have the resources to continue their spell in the top league, but which of the remaining three could go down with them? Everton, West Ham or Manchester United?
|19||West Ham United||2||0||0||2||0||3||-3||0|
Only eight of the 20 clubs in the Premier League were within four places of where they finally ended up at the end of the season, after the first four games. The biggest rise came from Arsenal who rose up 14 places. The biggest fall came from Everton who went from 7th to 16th.
Which suggests that while the table after two games doesn’t actually tell us who is going to win the league, it certainly gives some signs of what is to come.
Any club from 11th down after two games could be relegated. Any club from ninth up could win the league. And we know that because it happened last season.
Which raises the question, when does the table settle down so that we can see how things are likely to end up? We’ll try and work it out.
But here’s a thought: last season after three games the media predicted Arsenal’s total decline. In fact we ended up fifth. So a certain caution is needed.
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