By Tony Attwood
In the last piece (see the link immediately above) we looked at what happens when clubs in the Big Seven (the traditional big six plus newcomers Newcastle) play each other. Now we can take this a bit further.
And this turns out to be interesting, for if we look at the big seven clubs at home, we can see that there is a difference between the number of games played so far. Three of the big seven have played six at home and the remaining four have played eight at home. If being at home really is an advantage, that represents quite a benefit to the “8-game” clubs.
Because of this difference, to see what the form of the big seven is really like, we have to add an extra column measuring PPG, or points per game. The table below is then calculated on this basis: points per game against other members of the big seven at home…
Every one of the big seven has lost at least one game away from home. Manchester United have lost three and Chelsea four. Defences are very different too – Manchester United are letting in two goals a game on average for their away matches, and Tottenham and Chelsea are not far behind. Arsenal on the other hand are doing four times as well as Manchester United, conceding on average 0.5 goals per away game.
It is particularly interesting quite how shocking Liverpool’s away form is especially given all the suggestions made by the media pre-season, about how Manchester City and Liverpool will march away with the league this season. Liverpool’s one away win was against Tottenham and they have of late managed to lose against Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.
But can we use this type of simple analysis of the form of the big seven clubs to predict future results?
Of course, there is no perfect way of predicting the outcome of games, but we can start making a few predictions based on past results. I’m not saying my predictions will be right, but they could be a good indicator of the trends we’ll see.
So here are the upcoming games between top seven clubs with predictions based on this season’s results so far…
|Home team||Home PPG||Away team||Away PPG||Prediction|
|Manchester City||2.63||Chelsea||1.25||Home win|
|Arsenal||3.00||Newcastle United||1.71||Home win|
|Manchester Utd||2.17||Manchester City||1.83||Draw|
|Arsenal||3.00||Manchester Utd||1.63||Home win|
|Tottenham H||2.25||Manchester City||1.83||Draw|
|Newcastle United||2.25||Liverpool||0.83||Home win|
|Tottenham H||2.25||Chelsea||1.25||Home win|
In terms of points from these games, this gives
- Arsenal 7 points (from 3 games)
- Manchester City 5 points (from 3 games)
- Tottenham Hotspur 5 points (from 3 games)
- Newcastle United 3 points (from 2 games)
- Chelsea 0 points (from 3 games – all of which are away)
- Manchester United 1 point (from 2 games)
But there is one more factor, which is how will clubs have been affected by the world cup?
|Club||Players in WC squads||Minutes played|
|Newcastle United||4 players||453 minutes|
|West Ham United||4 players||1362 minutes|
|Brighton and Hove||7 players||1543 minutes|
|Arsenal||8 players||1699 minutes|
|Liverpool||7 players||1789 minutes|
|Manchester United||12 players||3585 minutes|
|Chelsea||9 players||3588 minutes|
|Tottenham Hotspur||12 players||3692 minutes|
|Manchester City||16 players||4628 minutes|
The simple fact is that Manchester City had twice as many players in Qatar as Arsenal, playing getting on for three times as many minutes. Of course, they have a bigger squad than Arsenal, but even so, the effect might be seen.
Tottenham had 50% more players out there than Arsenal playing more than twice as many minutes, and Manchester United with all their ups and downs at home can’t have been totally excited by 12 players again playing twice as many minutes as Arsenal players.
It may feel good that one’s club has a large number of players at the world cup, and maybe they will all start out well, buoyed up by their performances in Qatar, but ultimately with two-thirds of the season still left to play some of these players could start to feel the strain during the remaining 24 games.
Plus there are forthcoming league cup matches for Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Newcastle, plus FA Cup games, plus Champions League and Europa games.
This comparatively lower number of world cup minutes for Arsenal players, and an early exit from the League Cup, might all be beneficial.
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