My last post introduced the concept of The Superior 7 and the Threatened 13 in the Premier League. Now that the competition is moving into its business end, it is instructive to have a look at how these different match-ups look in terms of results.The table which follows confirms these two clusters of teams and also suggests that Arsenal should perhaps be taken more seriously as potential title winners. It also provides a new, and possibly more insightful, way of looking at the Premier League’s relegation battle.
This post focuses on Premier League matches played this season against the Threatened 13. I have visualized these as a Cann Table (thanks to Thomas at @catenaccio for the design) as this shows the gaps between the teams and is therefore clearer than a standard table. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Cann Tables, they are gaining in popularity as seen in this article. To keep it simple, the table is also shown based on points and not points per match. Matches played against the Threatened 13 range from 12 (Swansea City) to 16 (Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton).
Gap is clear
The gap between the two clusters is clear in the Cann Table above. The Superior Seven are currently taking more points from these matches than any Threatened 13 club. This is also the case when looking at points per match with Everton the worst of the Superior 7 (2.06 points per match) and Newcastle and Southampton the best of the Threatened 13 (1.86 points per match).
Arsenal on target
Arsenal’s dominance of these matches, which has led to the Gunners dropping just five points out of a possible 48, is also interesting as a continuation of this is probably the key to the Londoners winning this season’s Premier League. With a total of 78 points available in matches against the clearly weaker Threatened 13 clubs, dropping few of those points makes it is less necessary to pick up a lot of good results in the much tougher matches against the Superior 7. Manchester United’s title win last season illustrated this very nicely and will be a future subject for this series of posts. If Arsenal can take 65 or more points from these 26 matches, they will probably need less than 1.5 points per match from their ‘big’ games against the Superior 7 to win the title.
Moving onto the relegation battle, my self defined goal for avoiding the drop is to take 1.5 points per match from the 24 matches against fellow Threatened 13 clubs. A team doing this will get 36 points without having to get anything from their 14 matches against the Superior 7 which should take the pressure off in those matches as few points can be expected from them.
Breaking the threshold
There are currently just five of the Threatened 13 who are hitting this threshold; Southampton (1.86), Newcastle United (1.86), Swansea City (1.67), Norwich City (1.57) and Hull City (1.54). A potential concern for Hull City supporters is that their club has won just one of their last seven of these matches and defeat at Selhurst Park in their next fixture will push them below the required threshold for the first time this season.
Four clubs are averaging just one point per match or fewer in fixtures against the Threatened 13 and this quartet could be in real trouble if this does not improve as it means that points will have to be picked up against the big Premier League clubs who inhabit the Superior 7 cluster. Sunderland are the worst with 0.8 points per match against their Threatened 13 bedfellows whilst Cardiff City, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United all average a point per match in these fixtures.
One of the criticisms of the article which introduced this concept is that it includes Southampton and Newcastle United amongst the Threatened 13. To perhaps make it a bit clearer, the classification is based on the long term and not the short term. This split in the Premier League is clear as a long term trend and Newcastle United’s recent decline from a higher position has confirmed this. There may be an argument in the future for classifying Newcastle as an Excellent Eight team perhaps but not until they consistently perform at the level they have shown this season. As for Southampton, this is their first season of promise and would need to be repeated to be regarded as apart from the relegation fighters. Their injury problems, which have led to poorer results is also clearly the point here. If their squad was stronger, they wouldn’t be affected so badly. Finally, the suggestion that this pair are mid-table teams is also not strong in my opinion as both fought against the drop last term and the concept of a team aiming to finish mid-table makes little sense. Either clubs are battling to win the championship, get into Europe, or they have survival as a first priority.
Finally, keep an eye on those Arsenal matches against the Threatened 13. Can they hit the magic 65+ points figure? If so, the Gunners just might be difficult to stop.