Liverpool to be crowned champions again
This may not be a majorly hot take, but Liverpool are strong favourites on our model to defend their title. Despite the extremely long injury list at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp’s side have still performed at an exceptional level, averaging 2.2 xGF and 1.3 xGA per game this season.
The Reds have already got three tricky away games out of the way in the first half of the season, playing at Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City, meaning those three teams have to play at fortress Anfield in the second half of the campaign.
It is likely that their sensational home form will be the driving factor behind this title defence, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win the rest of their home games this season, having won 18 and drawn one last term, and only West Brom escaping with a point so far this term. All in all, we give Liverpool a 58.1% chance of reigning supreme once again.
Ole to lead United to third once again
The season started very shakily for Manchester United, but I always felt as though that was due to their European exploits in 19/20, which meant their season was longer than most of their rivals and they had an even shorter pre-season than other Premier League teams. It has taken a while for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to get going because of that, and the signs are there now that this is the same team that picked up the most points of all PL teams post-break.
Their underlying numbers are improving as the season progresses, which is an issue for their rivals, with United looking more threatening in attack as the weeks roll by. I was always of the stance that United had been written off way too early this season, and I think they can kick-on in the New Year and secure another top-four finish.
Ultimately, we give them a 76.5% chance of qualifying for the Champions League, and they have an outside shot of winning the title (8.8%), though that is unlikely.
Spurs and Leicester to miss out on top four
Both Tottenham and Leicester have been the talk of the town at times in the first half of the season, but I see both missing out on the top four, despite showing early promise. Jose Mourinho’s side had started the season very well from an underlying number standpoint, but that has since tailed off, mainly due to a more negative and pragmatic style.
While those tactics work wonders against the league’s best sides, in recent games against teams that you would expect Spurs to beat, they have operated in the same manner, which hasn’t worked. There have been improvements year-on-year, don’t get me wrong, but I still see them behind both Manchester United and Chelsea, and a long way behind Liverpool and Manchester City.
We make it unlikely that they finish in the top four (21.9%), meaning it will likely be Europa League football again next term. Leicester were so close to finishing in the top four last season, losing out in the final gameweeks, and they are set to have another near miss this term, despite another scorching start.
I think they too have improved year-on-year, but not enough to usurp last season’s top four, though another season securing Europa League qualification is a good result for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Infogol makes them odds on (53.7%) to finish in the top six for a second successive season.
Arsenal won’t get relegated but will finish in bottom half
Don’t worry Arsenal fans, the Championship doesn’t beckon. While it has been a torrid campaign so far, with the Gunners finding themselves in and around the relegation places, it won’t end in relegation. We calculate that Arsenal have a 1.1% (90/1) chance of the unthinkable.
After all of the hype following a good finish to the 19/20 campaign, the Gunners have really fallen on the face this term, something Infogol saw coming. At the back end of last season, while they were picking up wins and points, their underlying performances were at the level of a bottom half team. Nothing has changed from a process perspective, and wouldn’t you know it, Arsenal find themselves in the bottom half.
It is no fluke that they are in this dire position, and we make it highly likely that Arsenal will finish the 20/21 season in the bottom half (63%). Some fall from grace. Is it too late to get Arsene Wenger back?
Blades, Baggies and Cottagers going down
The three teams that will likely succumb to relegation consist of two of last seasons promoted teams and the side that broke the records for the worst start in Premier League history. Things look bleak for Sheffield United, who have had a tough second season back in the top flight following their top-half finish last term.
They managed the worst start in Premier League history, and are on pace to break the all-time low points total, a record currently held by the 07/08 Derby team that mustered a grand total of 11 points from 38 games. Sheffield United will win more points than that this season (sorry Derby 07/08 players), though it is hard to see them escaping the dreaded drop.
Fulham had shown shoots of improvement, and they do look the best of these three teams, but ultimately, they remain exceptionally vulnerable defensively, allowing an average of 1.76 xGA per game. West Brom appointed the saviour and messiah Sam Allardyce to guarantee safety this season, though our calculations suggest that Big Sam could suffer his first Premier League relegation this term.
The Baggies look to have a squad not at the level required to compete at this level, and even Allardyce’s black magic may not be enough to save the team that rank as the worst team in the league on every underlying metric. All three teams are given a 70%+ chance of being relegated. Burnley look too solid to go down, and Brighton are posting underlying numbers we would expect to see from a top-half team, so their results are expected to take an upturn.
- Mick McCarthy: Ireland must put faith in Stephen Kenny – but I never wanted to leave
- Paddy Power’s Christmas advert is here: Check out the Pundits’ latest misadventure
- Alan Curbishley: I missed my England manager interview – but I never had a chance anyway