I’m a Premiere League fan. Who doesn’t enjoy getting up at 7am to watch some of the best players in the world and some of the best fans go to battle across the pond?
I got a little annoyed this morning watching the coverage as they discussed who was in what place. Certainly, the Premiere League is not the only place you hear this, but I think the way we discuss who’s “winning” is occasionally, well, stupid. If a team has played two less games, it’s a bit asinine to worry about who’s ahead of whom. I realize it’s a bit of a brass tacks, you either have the points or you don’t, but in a game where teams all eventually play the same number of games, it seems a bit dumb to discuss who’s got the most points when teams haven’t played the same number of games.
As an illustration, here’s the current leaderboard plotted by games played and points.
As you can see Manchester City is the lone team still at 25 games, yet according to commentators had “fallen” to 4th in the league. Liverpool has had the opportunity at 6 more points!
Now let’s look at this if we plotted points per match.
While Chelsea still dominates, it’s pretty obvious that they’ve run away from the pack. Now, notice that Liverpool actually sits just barely in the top four, only 2 thousandths of a point actually.
The place I think this gets the most interesting is in the relegation zone. The bottom 3 teams are relegated at the end of the season to the league below. The generally accepted threshhold to get over is 40 points which, in a 38 game season, amounts to about 1 point per game. If we look at points per match as a metric and then plot it, it’s interesting what emerges.
You’ll notice that Burnley and Watford, while certainly still in danger, are above the 1 point per game line. Bournemouth, Leicester and Swansea are still in danger, as they are right at 1 point per match, and 4 teams are below the 1 point per match line. Look out Crystal Palace, Middlesborough, Hull and Sunderland.
One more since I’m enjoying this…
I think most folks would agree that given enough sample, point differentia or, in the case of football, goal differential is a strong measure of whether a team is good. Now, you can certainly be determinist about this that points and winning is all that matters. It’s true that there is no point differential with more goals. Let’s test this.
As you can see, Manchester City, Swansea and Hull are outperforming their goal differential in points (as well as other teams), perhaps hinting at a coming slide, and Middlesborough and Spurs are underperforming their points given their goal differential, perhaps hinting at some improvement to come.