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.