Difficult forthcoming fixtures and how often top clubs play each other


By Bulldog Drummond

It is of course possible that any of the “big seven” clubs this season could slip up in any of their forthcoming matches, but there are two interesting scenarios that all these clubs now face, which are often ignored but are indeed worth considering.

First there is the issue of how the top clubs are doing against each other (important of course because winning a match against another “big seven” club not only gives the winner three points but also stops the opponent making progress in the league).  And second, the number of minutes their players have played in the world cup.   

Indeed when we look at them, both factors turn out to be incredibly variable, and could well have a huge impact on what happens for the rest of the season.

At present the big seven are all in the top eight places in the league – the interloper is Brighton and the club with the slippage is Chelsea.  Those two have the same number of points and just four goals separate them, so one might expect the big seven to be the top seven come the season’s end, given the extra resources Chelsea have when compared with Brighton, both in terms of possible transfers in January, and current depth of squad.

442, at the start of the season predicted Arsenal to come fourth.  Untold predicted us to come at least third with a notion that second was possible.  (Our prediction being based on Arsenal’s performance in the last 35 games of last season).

In contrast The Analyst website stated that “At 99.3%, both Manchester City and Liverpool are considered top four shoo-ins by the supercomputer in 2022-23. But who will join them in qualifying for the UEFA Champions League via a top four Premier League finish?”

We have repeatedly pointed out that no sports pundit could possibly get his or her hands on an actual supercomputer and so their whole story is nonsense, including of course their answer.  (See for example, “What is a supercomputer and does it tell us anythng we don’t know?”)   

The Analyst’s answer was “Tottenham and Chelsea” for the top four, adding that, “This means that both Manchester United (22.6%) and Arsenal (22.0%) might suffer more disappointment this season in their quest for Champions League football, with less than one-in-four chance of finishing in the top four.”  That’s worth remembering.

Eurosport gave us a top four of Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal.  90Min invited each of their writers to make a prediction and they almost universally went for Liverpool and Manchester City at the top with Arsenal anywhere between fourth and sixth.

Thus as with every pre-season, we had a laugh at the way the media claim to be using super-computers (they most certainly are not – the cost for five minutes on a super-computer even if it could be bought, would be greater than the publication or blog’s annual turnover, and besides they are already fully booked being involved in somewhat more important work from weather forecasting to the nation’s defence).  But still, super-computer use is claimed and the mainstream media all came out with Arsenal in fifth by the end of this season.

But we know where we are now, so the question is, what is upcoming?   We’ll turn to that in the next piece.

The number of games that the big seven clubs will play against each other is an interesting measure, and is not totally evenly spread across the big seven, although they are fairly balanced.   Looking ahead to the next two months we see, in terms of matches between the big seven clubs…

  • Arsenal: three games, two at home one away
  • Chelsea: three games, one at home, two away
  • Liverpool: two games, both away
  • Manchester City: three games all away
  • Manchester United: two games, one at home and one away
  • Newcastle United: two games, one at home one away
  • Tottenham Hotspur: three games, two at home, one away

Here are the games between members of the big seven in the next couple of months

  • 2 January: Chelsea v Manchester City
  • 3 January: Arsenal v Newcastle United
  • 14 January: Manchester United v Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
  • 21 January: Arsenal v Manchester United, Liverpool v Chelsea
  • 4 February: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
  • 18 February: Newcastle United v Liverpool
  • 25 February: Tottenham Hotspur  v Chelsea

One question for these forthcoming games is, when two of the big seven play each other, does home advantage make a difference in such matches?  We’ll look at that in the next piece as we try to predict how the season will end.

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