Today we can exclusively reveal how the Premier League table will look at its conclusion. Well, sort of…
Thanks to the number-crunching guys at Opta, their stringent formula has concluded what we already knew: that Liverpool will be crowned champions for the first time in 30 years.
With an estimated probability of 99.9%, the Reds are also predicted to break the all-time English top-flight record of most points in a season (101), as well as win the title by a record points gap to second place (21). Both of those records happen to be currently held by Manchester City’s 2017-18 title-winning side which will no doubt further sweeten the glory on Merseyside.
Elsewhere Leicester City and Chelsea hang on to their top four spots, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have to settle for Europa League qualification. But it’s at the bottom that produces the bigger drama as Watford avoid the drop by the narrowest of margins, with goal difference sending Bournemouth down along with Norwich City and Aston Villa.
In order to come up with the model for their predicted table, Opta estimated the probability of each match outcome given each team’s attacking and defensive quality. Based on four years of historic results, this is added to the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and is rewarded accordingly.
In addition, upcoming matches such as City’s meeting with Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium are simulated using goal predictions before the outcome of the season is simulated 10,000 times in order to estimate the likelihood of each team finishing in each league position.
From the results produced in the model, Opta also found that:
• Manchester City’s 80-points would have been enough to win the Premier League title in six previous seasons: 1992-93, 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2000-01 and 2010-11.
• Spurs would overtake Wolves and Sheffield United in the race for Europe courtesy of 17 points from their final nine games.
• Watford’s 36 points would be enough to avoid relegation. The Hornets have an estimated 61.7% chance of survival, compared to Bournemouth’s 55.4% probability.
• With 36 points, Bournemouth would be relegated with the highest points tally in a Premier League season since Newcastle United in 2015-16 (37).
Ultimately though, it’s Liverpool’s achievements that grab the headlines. Their predicted points total would have only been bettered in Europe’s top five leagues by Juventus in 2013-14 under Antonio Conte (102).
Having already garnered 82 points from 29 games, a return of 19 from their final nine games could see Jurgen Klopp’s side potentially lose twice. But few concerns would be raised at Anfield as Jordan Henderson lifted the Premier League trophy.
As for the race for Champions League qualification: Leicester’s predicted 67 points would keep them in 3rd, while Chelsea’s 63 points would narrowly secure 4th, two points ahead of Manchester United in 5th (61). Despite a predicted strong finish to the season, Tottenham’s poor form earlier on consigns them to a first finish outside of the top four in five years and 6th place.
Wolves meanwhile secure 7th for a second consecutive season, while an impressive first season back in the top-flight ensures Sheffield United claim 9th place, just a point and a place behind Arsenal’s worst league finish since 1995.
If the predicted table is anything to go by though, it’ll be events at the bottom that will be closely followed during the run-in when the action resumes.