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The fixture skew

We know that the league table at the start of the season is skewed by the quality of opponents that we have faced, and we often accordingly urge caution. But rather than ignore the table altogether, the use of predictive models can help us better assess results to date and, crucially, potential results to come.

In the Premier League, for example, Burnley sit 12th after four matches, albeit just a point above the relegation zone. As per our predictive models, however, they were expected to be 19th at this early stage of the season, having played Southampton, Arsenal, Wolves and Liverpool. So while Burnley’s 12th-placed start looks as expected on paper, in fact they’re probably ahead of schedule for the season, and can feel even better about results to date.

The same could be said of Arsenal, whose 5th place in the league has come during a fixture period that our prediction models would have expected to leave them just below Leicester and Palace in 9th. With Chelsea enduring the opposite – poor results during an easier patch of games – Arsenal have now leapfrogged the Blues into fourth in our end-of-season projections. 

Indeed, in points terms we expected Chelsea to be about two points clear of Arsenal at this stage, whereas in fact they are two points behind. This may feel like a trivial difference at this stage of the season, but when Champions League places are decided by similar-sized margins, that Chelsea are playing catchup with a tougher fixture list to come should already sharpen the focus at both clubs.

While at this early point in the season it’s possible to try and gauge where our own team is at, it’s tricky to do this for 19 or more other clubs. This is where prediction models can help; it is not an exact science, but our testing shows that it’s better than informed guesswork. Clubs that know how to both push and manage expectations are the ones that can react best when the league table begins disseminating its lies.

Want to know where your club was expected to be at this stage of the season? Get in touch

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About Omar Chaudhuri

Omar Chaudhuri has created 135 entries.