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17 games to go, which team has the easiest run in?

If we are looking at just the top 7 teams then the answer to the question “which team has the easiest run-in” is Liverpool. Tottenham, Chelsea and Man U have the next easiest, Everton is where Everton should be if the world is right (smack dab in the middle), and Arsenal and Man City have the two most difficult run ins.

Here’s how I came to that conclusion.

First, I assumed that all the top 7 teams will win every match they have against all of the bottom 13 teams. That is very unlikely but I’m not predicting points or results, I’m judging “difficulty” and everyone will agree that the team who wins the title has to beat the bottom 13 teams. In fact, Wenger today said that “we must boss the bottom teams”.

And so far Arsenal have been excellent in that category, losing just once (Villa) and drawing once (WBA) against the entire bottom 13. In fact, on average so far this season, Arsenal have been the very best of all the teams against bottom 13 opponents. That’s a far cry from the opening day howler against Aston Villa when fans called for the sacking of Tim Payton and John Cross.

tablesWhere Arsenal have struggled is against the top 7 teams, though, as you can see only one team has done exceptionally well in that regard, Man City. And why has Man City done so well? Should I answer that question? Do people asking rhetorical questions annoy me? They played all but one game against the top 7 at home, I just did, and yes.

Projecting results is a very woolly discipline, especially in football where an errant referee can easily throw a spanner into a game. And let’s be honest here — none of you (or me) are any good at projecting results or you would be making money hand over fist at the bookies (or working for a bookie).

One could look at past results over the last 10 years, or past managerial results, or home form versus away form, or squad value as a ratio of win/loss, or payroll costs, or some other measurement and probably get something close, maybe. But using this season’s results? That would be whack because this season is unlike any I’ve seen in the League since I started watching football.

But predictions aren’t the point of this article, difficulty is. And I have decided that for this season’s champs, the bottom teams have a difficulty of zero. I have also decided that among the top 7 teams they should average about 1.5 points per game against each other: 2 points home, 1 point away, average. This has some basis in reality, last season Chelsea was the best team in the mini-League with 1.83ppg and Man U won the League with a mini-League average of 1.67ppg — for those counting, that’s just two draws above my estimate.

That home versus away points per game in the mini-League is important because, as you saw above, not every team has the same home versus away schedule coming up. So, what I did was assign 3 points whenever a team faced a bottom 13 club, 2 points when they faced a top 7 team at home and 1 point when they face a top 7 team away. That produced a top 7 schedule difficulty:

top-7

The top 5 teams all have to play the top 7 teams 6 times and Spurs and Man U only have to play those teams 5 times.This gives Spurs and United a one to two point advantage over their top 7 rivals. In fact, much has been made in the press of how easy Arsenal’s last 5 game run-in is but it’s actually Tottenham and Man U who have the easiest final 8 games, with those two facing just one top 7 team whereas Arsenal, City, Liverpool and Everton all face three top 7 teams.

As I said above, Man City has the most difficult run in using my simplistic method. They have to play 5 of 6 away matches against top 7 teams.

But Arsenal has the second most difficult schedule using the simple method and the most difficult using just plain logic. Arsenal have the second most number of away matches (4/6) but also because they have to play 4 title deciders in a block, 3 of those matches are away games, one is a North London derby, 1 is an away match to Chelsea who have been undefeated in 1000 years under Mourinho, and that is a block which falls right after Arsenal go away to Bayern Munich.

And Liverpool, conversely, have the easiest run-in with just one away game against top 7 teams. Moreover, Liverpool don’t have any European matches this season and neither do Everton, both teams only have the FA Cup left.

This means that it looks like Merseyside will have a huge role to play in deciding the title: City have to play both Merseyside teams away in the final few weeks of the season and Chelsea have a crucial away match against Liverpool.

But here are some other facts for you to consider in bullet format:

  • Even if Arsenal only get 8 points from their 6 matches (P6 W2 D2 L2) against big 7 teams, they can still finish on 89 points as long as they beat all the bottom 13. And 89 points should be enough to win the title, as long as they keep their GD up!
  • If you want to argue that Man U are title challengers still, you have to do so by arguing that they will win every one of their remaining fixtures. This will not happen, thus, they are not title contenders.
  • Liverpool have to be considered title challengers equal to City, Chelsea, and Arsenal: they play 5 of their 6 big games at home, they aren’t in Europe, they have the best record against absolute dross, and Luis Suarez is the league’s biggest flat track bully (19 of his 22 goals have come against bottom 13 clubs).
  • There are two matches which will decide the title, in my estimation: Arsenal at Chelsea and City at Arsenal. I think Arsenal can beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge because Chelsea have to play Galatasaray four days before that match. I also think Arsenal can beat City at the Emirates because so far Arsenal are the only team to put three goals past City. I think that’s where Arsenal will win the League this season.

Qq

65 thoughts on “17 games to go, which team has the easiest run in?

    1. -11 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike

      Walcott was offside for his goal that was incorrectly given, no Arsenal fans complaining about that is there? Arsenal fans seem to think the offside rule shouldn’t apply to them when they’re getting battered and also seem to think that putting the ball in the net several seconds after the whistle has gone and defenders have stopped also counts as a goal. Deluded.

  1. -54 Vote -1 Vote +1Tough NUTTER

    too many cunts who know nothing about football have blogs backed up by pointless stats. cunts is what you lot are and you are destroying the fucking game. piss off back to your playstations you non playing never kicked a ball in your life wanker bloggers. CUNTS

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1YankGoonerMD

    Long time reader of this blog and this is the first time I have ever linked here from News Now… evidently they think you are Australian Tim, they have a nice little Aussie flag instead of the Stars and Stripes

    And love the optimism Tim. If we want to win the league, we have to beat the best and It will be that much sweeter with an away win at Chelski and besting the UAE.

    1. -37 Vote -1 Vote +1Tough NUTTER

      you’re not a gooner you plonker, you’re not from London, you’ve never been to Highbury or Ashburton so kindly piss off and go comment on a sport thats simple like baseball…. caveman, hit ball with stick… duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

      1. +25 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Let us have an exegesis of “Tough NUTTER’s” arguments shall we?

        1. “you’ve never been to Highbury or Ashburton” — I have been to Highbury, “Ashburton”, Liberty Stadium, Anfield, and the Allianz Arena. All to see Arsenal.
        2. “[USA] HAVE TO LPAY CANADA TO GET [TO THE WORLD CUP]” — actually, in the hexagonal, USA played Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Jamaica, and Panama and in round two, prior, where Canada was eliminated, Canada and USA weren’t drawn together. What I’m trying to say here is that USA didn’t play Canada at all to get into this World Cup.
        3. “[you] have never played a game in [your] life” — I play every weekend, I have coached, and I am a student of the game both from a statistical standpoint and from having watched the game every weekend for the last 15 years.
        4. “I’m gonna punch the face off the next yank I meet in London” — your IP address is actually Dublin Ireland so perhaps when you get a chance to scrape up the money to go to London you can punch some random Yank in the face and go to jail. On the other hand, I could tell everyone your street address if you’d like? Then your could deliver a real ass-whuppin or (more likely) have your mum get out the tin of biscuits and serve them some tea?
        5. My experience is that the internet is a mirror. So, when you rant about us not knowing anything about football or not having see a match what you’re really saying is “I’m insecure about my knowledge of football and stats frighten me” along with a tacit admission that you’ve probably never seen a Premier League match in person.

  3. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Hassan

    Thing about us sticking 3 past City, two of them were from Theo who plays no part in this run in. If we’re going to do the business v City, we’re going to have to keep it a tight encounter which against that attack is very difficult. On the other hand, we’re probably the only team in the league that could stifle them so it really does swing on that fixture for me UTA

  4. -34 Vote -1 Vote +1Tough NUTTER

    piss off americans, you really know nothing about football…. the worst thing about the internet is cunts from america who know fuck all, have never played a game in their lives and so on, these cunts write blogs like they know something when clearly americans CANT PLAY AND HAVE ZERO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE GAME…. fucking wankers: Don’t you have a game of baseball or that retarded sport NFL to go stat about you gobshites??? YANKS ARE NOT WELCOME IN THE WORLD OF FOOTBALL – YOU CUNTS DON’T DESERVE TO BE IN A WORLD CUP BUT HEY, YOU ONLY HAVE TO LPAY CANADA TO GET THERE. WANKERS

    1. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Joe

      For fuck sake will you shout up we Irish have had to fight for years to prove were not stupid. Then you come along like a bad Irish joke thanks buddy.

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1skyw4lker

    That’ss all well and good… but let’s just take game after game and try to win every single one of them. Everything should – hopefully – fall into place.

  6. -31 Vote -1 Vote +1Tough NUTTER

    I’m gonna punch the face off the next yank I meet in London – you utter bunch of rodents, fuck off back to american shitball and leave football to us that know and play the game. USA=IDIOTS…. now FUCK OFF

  7. -20 Vote -1 Vote +1Tough NUTTER

    DO YOU REALISE THE WHOLE FOOTBALLING WORLD LAUGHS AT, SPITS ON AND DESPISES USA???? YOU’RE COMPLETELY SHIT AT FOOTBALL, EVERYONE OF YOU YET YOU GET A FREE RIDE INTO THE WORLD CUP???? FUCKING JOKE, NOT ONE USA PLAYER MADE IT IN EUROPE EVER….. and whatever happened to the Next Pele Freddi Adu???? you rats use the name Pele in vein… bunch of Jesus loving Evangelical Morons… America, the CUNTry that gave us the Bush Family – you fucking idiots

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1TattyBoJangels

      Tough Nutter, seriously? If your IP address is correct in that its in Dublin and you are in fact Irish, like myself, then you have no grounds to make the statement that everyone laughs at US football as i recall Ireland got absolutely ass fucked in the Euros, USA are a better team than us.And whats this Jesus loving Evangelical moron shite, Ireland is just as bad, the fucking catholic church ruled this shithole for the better part of 80 years while us irish like the subservient dogs we are took it without questioning. So in short You’re a cunt, You’re a prick you know nothing about football and finally……You’re a cunt :)

  8. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Jack Action

    What seems to sabatoge a lot of teams at the end is how many teams you play in a relegation scrap? I would not want to play West Ham, Villa, Norwich, Swansea even, towards the end of the season. If you look at the bottom of the table it’s all pretty tight down there, just like at the top.

    I hope that’s the downfall of Liverpool. Personally, it sticks in my craw that Liverpool has been able to make this quantuum leap in a single season into title contenders without a relatively massive outlay of money in the transfer market, when we’ve been slugging for years just to stay top 4.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Suarez.

      Has had a spectacularly good season.

      Here are some stats:

      Opposition Goals AST Shots SoG Conversion SoG% GPG
      Bottom 13 19 3 71 35 26.76% 49% 1.7
      Top 7 3 2 21 12 14.29% 57% 0.6
      Last season 23 5 187 72 12.30% 39% 0.7
  9. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Jima

    Great article, think that Arsenal will fall away with too many games for small squad, as will Liv and eve, especially if key players get lost along the way. The rest of the teams have much bigger squads even if the first 11 aren’t as good, bar city and chels

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1ColinSC

      I agree Jima, unfortunately TS seems to want to trim the squad. I just hope the depth of squad we have now and would be bound to help up late on in the season, is not lost just before we get to use it.

  10. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1skyranger

    Tough nutter’s spelling is pretty good for a “throw back”. Must be hard typing with fists.

    While the layout of the programme does have significance and from your analysis here we can see where the crunch points are likely to be, I still believe our challenge will come down to the players available at these times. Injuries are our biggest shadow .l do hope I’m wrong.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Kelechi

    Tough NUTTER why u so bitter? Well USA will beat IRELAND or ENGLAND anytime they’re drawn together in Wolrd Cup. And u need to take a chill pill

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1Steve

    Tough nutter is, well, just a nutter! I won’t comment on why he dislikes Americans but maybe un-football related!!!!!!!

  13. +4 Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    “I also think Arsenal can beat City at the Emirates because so far Arsenal are the only team to put three goals past City. I think that’s where Arsenal will win the League this season.”

    Ooh..be careful what you wish for. If this comes true I will fly to Tacoma, find you, kiss you on the lips AND try to slip you the tongue.

    This fixture is already the elephant in the room. It’s a bit too far ahead in the season as we speak and no one wants to talk bout it just yet. But it’s there, getting bigger and bigger as the days draw on.

    This season both Manchester teams are a lesson in managerial impact. Look at both halves. Fergie wins the title with the same squad that could struggle to make top 4 under Moyes. Mancini’s dysfunctional squad manages to lose the F.A. Cup to relegation bound Wigan while the same bunch under Pellegrini (with a few notable additions to be sure) is looking to make history with 99 goals and counting and very much in the hunt for all four available trophies. Looking at Manchester this season also throws kind light on a Frenchman from Alsace who has managed year after year to confound his critics and keep pace with the changes of footballl.

    Who knows what the future will bring, but Pellegrini and Wenger are class, we know that much. And I’m puckering up already in anticipation…

  14. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1londoncalling12

    Hi Timbo

    You do attract the best type of keyboard warriors to your blog

    I’m loving your optimism with 17 games to go…….but.
    I’ll start getting exciting at the end of March 2014, until then, one game at time sweet Jesus….

  15. -11 Vote -1 Vote +1Media love Arsenal

    With allowance for home/away fixtures

    Arsenal:

    Fulham 3 pts
    Soton 3 pts
    Palace 3 pts
    Liverpool 0 pts
    Man U 0 pts
    Sunderland 3 pts
    Stoke 1 pts
    Swansea 3 pts
    Spurs 0 pts
    Chelsea 0 pts
    City 0 pts
    Everton 1 pts
    Wigan 3 pts
    Hull 3 pts
    Newc 3 pts
    WBA 3 pts
    Norwich 3 pts

    Total 80 points

    Tottenham

    Swansea 3 pts
    Man C 1 pt
    Hull 3 pts
    Everton 3 pts
    Newcastle 1 pt
    Norwich 3 pts
    Cardiff 3 pts
    Chelsea 0 pts
    Arsenal 3 pts
    Southampton 3 pts
    Liverpool 0 pts
    Sunderland 3 pts
    WBA 3 pts
    Fulham 3 pts
    Stoke 3 pts
    West Ham 3 pts
    Villa 3 pts

    Tottenham 81 pts

    Both are best case scenario

  16. Vote -1 Vote +1bluevalentine

    Cockneys? Love ‘em. Bring ‘em on, 18 goals and counting.
    Aren’t stats great? You don’t ever have to watch a game, just roll out the numbers.
    The argument set out here is a bit like “If my mum had bollocks and a moustache she’d be my dad”.
    Prediction: 1 City 2 Chavs 3 Arse 4 Everton 5 Pool 6 Spuds 7 Barcodes 8 Manure 9 Soton
    and ToughNutter is a total twat

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Joe

      City and the refs not only are you paying a lot for players it must be costing a lot for the refs and lino’s.

      1. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike

        Did you complain when Walcott’s offside goal was awarded at the Etihad? Not really interested in fairness are you?

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Söng

    ManShitty and Chel$ki are the games which will go a long way toward deciding the title. I don’t see either of those teams fading away in the second half of the season. But for a couple of reasons, I honestly believe the most important game for us and the game which might have the most impact on our title chase will be ManUre at home. Firstly, for the other top six teams, ManUre has been the whipping boy and five of our direct rivals have taken points from them. We are, in fact, the only top team NOT to have taken points from ManUre. If we don’t beat them, that’s anywhere from three to six points that we have to make up against other teams.

    Second, and more importantly, we do seem to have a psychological fear of ManUre. Let’s face it, they’ve pretty much dominated us in the past several seasons. The fact that Nouveau Chateau, WBA, Spurms and Everton all managed wins at Old Trafford shows that ManUre are no longer a team which we should fear and yet the way we played against them was fearful. I think if we beat ManUre, it would be a significant psychological hurdle for this group of players, especially the younger players who’ve developed at Arsenal with the burden of losing to ManUre consistently. It would give them a psychological platform to go into the ManShitty and Chel$ki games with confidence.

    1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

      The problem is we played against United at Old Trafford too early in the season. That fear factor was still in place. If we had played them after they suffered a few losses, we probably would’ve gone there and won 2-0.

  18. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Joe

    Tee
    It could also be on the day we played man utd a bug had stripped the team of 4 of are best players

  19. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1craig

    Wow. Comments section is a bit of a cesspool today. A delusional Spud and a Dublin tween, both on a post that seemed so non-controversial. Oh well

  20. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ColinSC

    @Craig: Actually with the range of supporters on this blog I would say they discussion is quite polite. With obvious exceptions of course (personally, I too am a delusional spud).

  21. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Donegalgunner

    There will be far too many variables that will decide the title. Playing the weaker teams at the end if the season may not be the best thing as they will be fighting for points. In a season everybody plays the same games so it’s difficult to predict a run. I for one am quite optimistic about our run in. If we can get some momentum going, like last year, anything is possible. Regardless of how we finish, I’m proud thus far of the team and Wenger. They have been quite brilliant

  22. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Sam

    Nice article Tim. As a City fan, I am just loving season. Banging them in for fun and the top four monopoly broken. Great to see 7 clubs in with a shout at this stage and united looking like a pub team. Providing the title comes to gods own club and we get the opportunity to play The Dog and Duck in the LC final, I’ll be a happy man.

  23. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1jem

    Can you give me “Tough NUTTER’s” address. I’m from Dublin, I can go around and punch him in the face for you if you like (and I’m a City fan). I reckon it’s my patriotic duty to rid Ireland of these gobshites.

  24. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim

    “everyone will agree that the team who wins the title has to beat the bottom 13 teams.” So, that’s Liverpool’s title hopes shot.

  25. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    I appreciate your attempt to quantify our potential chance to… I personally don’t want to talk about IT since I might jinx us.

  26. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Freddie

    “so far Arsenal are the only team to put three goals past City”

    This is why you believe Arsenal will win the league? You can’t fault logic like that!

    PS Cardiff scored three against CIty earlier on in the season.

  27. Vote -1 Vote +1Vijit

    Unfortunately, you are killing the purpose of having an email subscription of the posts updated on this website. I am a big fan of 7amkickoff posts and read it regularly. But i am not able to open this website in my office, that’s why i signed up with email subscription. But sadly your email ask me to come to website to read more… :(

    P.S.: (I m not writing this from office pc)

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