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Crunching The Numbers: Statistically Predicting Final Premier League Table

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: The Barclays Premier League Trophy is displayed prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

With over a quarter of the Premier League played let’s look ahead at forecasting the most likely finishing positions of all twenty teams. It’s still early doors but it’s interesting to see the shape the league is taking.

I’ll keep it light on the maths: each team’s key stats are used to develop match odds as a percentage for each remaining fixture in the EPL. A random number using Excel’s rand() function is assigned to each game, and a result recorded. As an example, here’s a look at next week’s game between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur:

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-15-17-34

Here the random number is larger than Tottenham’s probability, so they do not win, but it is lower than Tottenham + the probability for a draw, so it is recorded as a draw and each team adds one point to their current actual points total. Keep in mind this not a how-to guide so I won’t go further than that here.

The process is repeated for each remaining fixture and each team’s total points are recorded. The simulation is run 10,000 times to smooth out any outliers (one simulation saw City finish on 103 points!).

So with that out of the way, here is each team’s finishing position for the 2016/2017 Premier League.

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-15-19-06

20th – Sunderland – 30.27 points.

Perennially staring into the abyss, it looks like it’s finally Sunderland’s season to take the plunge. As things stand The Black Cats have a 45% chance of finishing dead last and a huge 79% of finishing in the bottom three.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: David Moyes, Manager of Sunderland looks on during the Premier League match between Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion at Stadium of Light on October 1, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

19th – Hull City – 34.32 points

A team that was destined to struggle, not only are Hull City over-performing their expected points by more than three points, they also have some of the worst stats in the league, failing to get over 50% TSR (Total Shots Ratio) in any of their games. With a thin squad and a leaky defence, The Tigers need a miracle to escape the bottom three.

18th – Burnley – 34.66 points

Valiant efforts, no doubt, but they’ve alway been on the backfoot. They would be my personal pick to pull themselves out of the bottom three, but they need to start scoring goals.

17th – Swansea City – 39.00 points

We may well yet have a Welsh club in the Premier League next season. Forecast to finish almost five points ahead of Burnley, Bob Bradley’s lads will still have a scrap on their hands if they want to stay in the top flight next year.

SWANSEA, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 7: Bob Bradley, Manager of Swansea City reacts as he addresses the media during his unveiling as New Swansea City Manager at the Marriott Hotel on October 7, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

16th – Middlesbrough – 40.00

Another contender for a tough bout to stay up, Middlesbrough need to put some breathing room between themselves and those below them. In their final six games of the season they will play Arsenal, Bournemouth, Manchester City, Chelsea, Southampton, and Liverpool. A nervy end if you’re a Boro fan.

15th – West Brom – 44.14 points

The Baggies are predicted to finish almost 10 points above the drop. Premier League status may be crucial to free up funds from their new Chinese investors.

14th – West Ham – 44.82 points

Well certainly not the start the Hammers were after. Since their move, things have gone very flat for Bilic’s men. At the beginning of the season they had been forecast to finish comfortably in the top ten, but they have not been able to produce a convincing win to give them a strong foothold in the league so far.

Premier League

13th – Stoke – 45.13 points

Mark Hughes looks to have pulled Stoke out of their early season shame spiral. They have won three and drawn two of their last 5 games – admittedly against weak opposition barring Manchester United, but it’s points on the board. They are converting 10% of shots to goals which isn’t bad at all, and on par for a lower mid-table side.

12th – Crystal Palace – 45.73 points

Results have been mixed but they are playing some nice football and have built a solid squad for a mid-table side. They also have a difficult final few games but should pick up enough points between Christmas and April to finish comfortably.

11th – Leicester City – 47.22 points

The champions are just doing enough to keep the numbers in their favour. With a clear focus on the Champions league, a mid-table finish is expected of Ranieri’s men, a bigger challenge will be keeping the rest of their key players after season’s end.

Arsenal

10th – Bournemouth – 47.46 points

This is a tricky one with Bournemouth’s figures being inflated by their demolition of Hull City. That being said, they have respectable pass completion (80%) and save % (70.80%) stats.

9th – Watford – 48.78 points

Averaging 1.5 points per game, Watford have pulled off some fantastic results, including coming back from two goals down to beat West Ham 4-2, and beating a misfiring Manchester United 3-1. They suffered defeat to Arsenal, Chelsea, and Burnley, with Burnley possibly being the only disappointing result. They are slightly underperforming with their shots on target stats, but they are doing well at converting their chances, scoring 12 of their 14 goals inside the box.

8th – Everton – 58.38 points

While still not totally convincing, it’s hard to argue with Everton’s numbers. They are much more solid defensively this season than under Martinez having only conceded 8 goals in 10 games. They are scoring on average 1.5 goals per game, but a major worry would be an injury to Romelu Lukaku who has scored 46.66% and assisted 20% of Everton’s goals.

7th – Southampton – 59.51 points

Southampton have been very tough to break down this season. They are allowing 1.0 goals per game, but only scoring 1.10 themselves. That being said, their shooting numbers are encouraging with a total shots ratio of 61%. What they are lacking is someone a bit more clinical up front, but are still expected to finish in the top half.

SWANSEA, WALES - FEBRUARY 13: Shane Long of Southampton celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on February 13, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

6th – Manchester United – 60.41 points

Crazy numbers. Averaging 18.10 shots per game, hitting the target 5.9 times per game, but only converting 1.30 goals per game. At the same time, Manchester United are conceding 1.20 goals per game, a situation that will not be helped by the list of defensive injuries plaguing the club. The goals will come of course, or have they dared to Zlatan one too many times?

5th – Tottenham – 69.37 points

A team I’d personally like to see do better. Spurs are having a great time defensively in the Premier League. They are currently conceding a goal for every 19.2 shots they face, which is just 0.5 per game. Even with the absence of Alderweirald, they are hanging on defensively. Harry Kane is on his way back and may be in line for some game time vs Arsenal which should start to bring up their goal numbers.

Spurs are getting a lot of shots away (18.5)  but are only scoring 1.4 per game. Some more firepower up front could bump them into the top 4 mix.

4th – Arsenal – 69.60 points

Wenger’s lads have good numbers across the board. They are scoring 2.3 per game and conceding one, but they need to reign in the opposition’s shooting. They are currently over performing by almost 2 points. Definitely a positive to see Giroud getting some game time again as it gives more options up front.

3rd – Chelsea – 69.90 points

The dark horses. Tied with City for the second lowest goals conceded average, Chelsea have come a long way since last season’s mutiny against Mourinho. They are scoring 2.10 goals per game and have really shined using the 3-4-3. Courtois could do with improving his save %, but generally a dangerous team to forget about.

2nd – Liverpool – 74.63 points

There is a lot of hype around Liverpool this season. As I have written before they are phenomenal going forward. They keep the ball well and keep it out of their own area well. The issue is when they lose it and the opposition gets in and around their box. They have the worst save % (56.7%), yet are conceding 1.3o goals per game from an average of 3 shots on target and 7.7 overall. A team I would love to see win it, but the defence needs sorting out. The forecast gives them a 30% chance of winning it, which is better than the bookies will give you.

1st – Manchester City – 77.29 points

The favourite to win it. Aguero. Gundogan. That is all.

Manchester

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.