Statistically Speaking (with some food for thought)

Posted: February 18, 2010 by mcdonaldtaf in Team Talk
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Just did a double take… yes there are only 12 premiership games remaining this season. Only 12 games but, as we are all painfully aware, so much to play for. The coveted fourth spot quite possibly being essential to the future prosperity of our club. The loss of revenues would be significant in itself but then you add in prestige and brand considerations and well… we have to finish fourth.

Finishing fourth may not be as easy as we think, hope or wish though. Manchester City have their billions and while the transfer window is closed there is little denying the quality already littered throughout their squad. Much the same can be said for Tottenham, while Villa remain resurgent under Martin O’Neill. However, not one of these clubs (luckily for us) has taken advantage of our fall from grace earlier in the season. By now it is possible that, had any of the three clubs had the mettle, they could have cemented a fourth spot for themselves. A lack of experience has resulted in inconsistency for the ‘wannabes’ and for that we are thankful.

So what lies ahead in the final twelve games? Well, in much the same way as it does at the start of the season, form can often go out of the window. Clubs sat at the bottom of the Premiership fight like never before, while those above need every point to win the title. That extra 10% is found by teams throughout the table. It is probable that only positions 8 through to 12 won’t have the desire or necessity to drive that extra will to win. That said there must be some clear indicators as to how the season may end statistically speaking.

Well if you look at the home or away argument for the four clubs vying for Champions League football it is generally split 50/50, as is usually the case at this point in the season. So you need to look at the quality of the opposition you will face in the fight. If you take the current league positions of the opposition faced then you can take the average of that position as an indicator of the opposition strength throughout the period. So the average league position of opposition for Villa in the next twelve games is 11.3, they will only face five (38%) of the top 10 sides in their remaining games and only two of the top 4. Then compare that against Manchester City who’s average league position faced will be 9.2. They will play eight (61%) of their last 13 games against top 10 sides and all other three of the current top four clubs. Their next game being against us so they have to play all of the ‘big 4’ in the premiership. Tottenham sit somewhere in the middle with an average opposition league placing of 10.5, five (42%) games against top 10 opposition and having to meet all of the current top 4 but only three of the ‘big 4’.

So what about us? Well the good news is we’re pretty much in the same position as Villa. The average league opposition we face is 11.3 and we too only have to play 5 out of the top 10, although we have played a game more already so our percentage is higher at 42%. We will though have to play three of the current top 4, although this is to our advantage as one of those games, as we know, is next up against City.

So how many times will teams come up against those with very little to play for, the ones who may struggle to muster up the extra 10%? Well it’s the same story. Villa do best as they face four of these sides and City worst with only two; both us and Tottenham will face three.

So statistically speaking Villa are possibly in pole position and City will struggle, but it’s never quite as simple as that as the season closes (we’ve not even mentioned luck or refereeing decisions). Squad size and unrested players let Villa down last season and I suspect will do so again this. There is also the added experience factor. We have been here before many times and prospered, we know how to fight and we have a core of experience and confidence (the ‘winning mentality’) within the team and squad.

So with experience, the return of key players and the statistics I’m confident that fourth place is ours, although it’s fair to say that if City had Villa’s run-in I wouldn’t be. City have the luxury of a big squad with quality throughout and some ‘winners’, but they also have the worst run in this season. There is an important lesson to learn though if we do grasp fourth place. If we slip again next season I suspect City will not be quite so forgiving. This season they have been finding their feet in their billion pound slippers, next season they will have found their footing and no doubt added yet more quality to their squad.

The food for thought:

Arsenal could well be out of the title race but here’s an interesting nugget of information for you. Arsenal’s average league opposition beats all of the contenders above with 12. They also only have one of the current top 4 and none of the ‘big 4’ to play. On the other hand United and Chelsea have to play us, City, Tottenham, Villa and each other!

  1. eldon says:

    The game is up for Benitez
    No wonder Jamie Kanwar has gone on strike at
    The directors at Liverpool are in a horrible position as they should have taken the brave decision to remove Benitez at Christmas time. Would of been a tough decision but the club and the players needed a major kick to stay ahead of the new order of Spurs, Man city and Aston Villa.
    The reality is that we have another 12 months in the Europa League on the horizon. The thought of watching these games as well as the dire Europa group stages fills me with dread. Despite being a lifelong fan I can’t see myself rushing home from work on a Thursday to watch these fixtures with a couple of Carlings.
    The performance tonight against Wigan was poor and lacked quality and was negative. Torres had a few chances. However I never really felt the team was in control of their opposition or in control of the game. Some of the passes I saw should only be seen on a Sunday League game. The balance of the team is very poor but what is frustrating is that Rafa is setting up the team to stifle his opponent against poorer lower grade clubs in a negative manner so as not to lose games rather than going for the jugular.
    You never see Manchester United or CFC or Arsenal adopt this approach against teams in the bottom half.
    Rafa is not the man to lead us to the title. Rafa is a glorified cup specialist. Even if we analyse last year’s results we were very lucky to finish 2nd as CFC had a poor manager without the tools or the ideas to tackle a gruelling premiership. If CFC had Gus or Carlo in charge last season Liverpool would have finished 3rd.
    I am now suggesting that Rafa at least goes down in a blaze of glory and gets the team to play in a balanced manner with specialists playing in their best roles so that we look balanced and we give the fans some pleasure. More importantly it will give us the ability to put our opponents on the back foot. I have to be brutally honest Liverpool have been shocking to watch this season and have for long periods this season have been playing like a glorified Bolton this season.

    Despite a number of poor signing and the failure to replace Alonso with an immediately available fit replacement. I feel with the players we have in this squad the team should play in a more expansive entertaining manner most of all feel we had enough quality to play 10-15% better this season.
    It’s acceptable to win playing badly but to play poorly and lose as we have done on a number of occasions this season is completely unacceptable.
    I was one of the RAFA we trust brigade but have lost complete faith in him. I reckon we will do well in the Europa and think we will make the Semis but this will not be acceptable I feel based on our recent form we will finish 5th or 6th in the league.
    The look of the Rafa in the press conference was that of a broken man. Rafa’s time is up and despite the constraints of the board. We should not be in such a bad situation with all the signings and talent at his disposal.

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