English Premier League: Goal Difference to points correlation

So I was just looking down the English Premier League Table for the season, and I found that as I went down the list, the goal difference went lower. There’s nothing counterintuitive in this, but the degree of correlation seemed eerie.

So I downloaded the data and plotted a scatter-plot. And what do you have? A near-perfect regression. I even ran the regression and found a 96% R Square.

In other words, this EPL season has simply been all about scoring lots of goals and not letting in too many goals. It’s almost like the distribution of the goals itself doesn’t matter – apart from the relegation battle, that is!

PS: Look at the extent of Manchester City’s lead at the top. And what a scrap the relegation is!

Analysing Premier League Performance So Far

English Premier League tables can be misleading in that they are a function of the fixture list. At this point in time it doesn’t matter so much since we’re only 2 games into the second half of the season but in the middle of the half of the season it is important.

From this perspective, it is important to compare this season’s results against comparable fixtures of last season to know where teams are. Last season I had a calculator that would run every week. This year, thanks to Liverpool’s indifference performance (as you can see in the first chart), I’ve been late on this.

The list of Premier League teams changes every year, though, thanks to relegation and promotion. For this purpose, we replace teams placed 18,19,20 last year respectively with the Championship winner, runner-up and winner of playoff. So we substitute Leicester, Burnley and QPR respectively for Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff from last year’s table.

So the first graph shows the difference between a team’s points tally this year and the team’s points tally from the corresponding fixture of last year. This illustrates why as a Liverpool fan I’ve put so much NED – they’re the second worst team this year compared to last year, after city rivals Everton.


The most improved team is, of course, West Ham United. Also having improved significantly are Swansea and Chelsea. At the other end, after last year’s high-flying Liverpool and Everton, we have relegation-threatened Crystal Palace and West Brom, along with Arsenal. And QPR is worse off compared to Cardiff last year!

Next, if we assume that the rest of the season goes identically to last year’s corresponding fixtures, what will the final table look like? It will look like this:




According to this, Palace should hang on, but West Brom and Hull will go down, as will QPR. Surprisingly, this says that Arsenal and Spurs will get the last two Champions League places (notice the gap between 2 and 3 here).

Has Manchester United Really Been a Disaster This Season?

The talk of this English Premier League season so far has been the poor performance of defending champions Manchester United. After six rounds of matches, the Red Devils lie twelfth, with only seven points from six games. While we are barely one sixth our way into the season (where each team plays 38 games), people are talking about the loss of the United “magic” following the departure of its long-standing coach Sir Alex Ferguson last season break. Other analysts, however, are quick to point out that United started off with a rather tough fixture list this year, having visited Liverpool and Manchester City and hosted Chelsea already.

A snapshot of the Premier League Table, thus, does not paint a particularly accurate picture. It is possible that at a particular interval in the season you can go through a series of tough games, or easy games. The fixture schedule each year is different and thus early league positions can be deceptive.

On this page, we will try to adjust for that. This post is going to be updated every week, and what we will do is to compare this season to the earlier one and see how teams are performing relative to the same set of fixtures last year. Thus far this season, Manchester United have played Chelsea, West Bromwich and Crystal Palace, all at home and have traveled to Swansea, Liverpool and Manchester City. What we do is to compare the performance of Manchester United in these six games to the corresponding six fixtures last season.

To adjust for relegation and promotion, the teams that placed 18th to 20th last season are respectively replaced by the three qualifiers (in order) from the Championship. Thus, we will assume that Cardiff City will replicate Wigan’s performance, Hull City Reading’s and Crystal Palace has taken QPR’s place.

Thus, we get table 1 – the “points change graph”, which shows how many additional points each team has got so far relative to the corresponding fixtures last year.


This table confirms that irrespective of the fixture list, Manchester United’s performance so far this season is significantly inferior to that of last year. At the other end, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur have vastly improved from last season.

Next, we will assume that the rest of the season would go as it did last season, and see how the table has changed taking into account this season’s performance.


Again, it is early in the season yet, but if the rest of this season were to go as it did last year, Manchester United is likely to still win the title, but only just. Interestingly, Tottenham will be second if the rest of the season goes as per last season’s performances.