Premier League Run-In Analysis

Updated: 168 Football

Join us we update match-by-match the difficulty of the Premier League run-in for every club aiming for victory or survival

Premier League Run-In Analysis
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

Premier League Season Difficulty

As the current Premier League season reaches its ‘business end’, the discussions regarding who will win the title and who will suffer the drop only begin to get louder and as teams at the top and bottom of the ladder aim to fulfil differing objectives, a tense final few weeks await us.

🔥 Premier League's climax approaches!

Title race heats up 🔝 while relegation battle intensifies ⬇️. Will Luton join Burnley & Sheffield United in the drop, or can off-pitch drama save them? 🤔⚽

Tension at the summit as three clubs look to be the dominant force in English football, tension at the bottom as three clubs look to avoid demotion to the EFL Championship and with Burnley and Sheffield United both already cast adrift, questions remain as to whether Luton will join them.

A look at the current Premier League table suggests that they may well do and they may have to hope for matters off the field of play to assist them – matters that came in the form of points deductions for both Nottingham Forest and Everton.

Rk Squad MP W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester City 32 22 7 3 76 32 44 73
2 Arsenal 32 22 5 5 75 26 49 71
3 Liverpool 32 21 8 3 72 31 41 71
4 Aston Villa 33 19 6 8 68 49 19 63
5 Tottenham 32 18 6 8 65 49 16 60
6 Newcastle 32 15 5 12 69 52 17 50
7 Manchester United 32 15 5 12 47 48 -1 50
8 West Ham 33 13 9 11 52 58 -6 48
9 Chelsea 31 13 8 10 61 52 9 47
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Forest are just on the right side of the dotted relegation line but Luton below are from cast adrift and although the current league standings will give an indication of both the relegation battles and the race to win the title – not to mention those teams that are also aiming to earn European football for next season, there is a way to add context.

Context that comes in analysing the fixture difficulty of each of the 20 clubs involved and although the table looks as it does now, the next few weeks could see a considerable amount of change for those looking to earn upward mobility and those looking to hold on to what they already have.

🔍 Diving into the final Premier League fixtures!

Ranking teams based on their current standings as the season end nears. Who will rise? Who will fall? 📈📉

We can start our analysis by looking at all the Premier League fixtures that are left remaining between now and the end of the season and giving each team a rank according to the current league standing.

Therefore if Arsenal were facing Sheffield United in their next fixture, the ranking for that fixture would be 20 (as Sheffield United are bottom of the table). If Burnley were facing Manchester City, the ranking for that fixture would be 3.

Of course, the reverse of these rankings would also be allotted. Sheffield United’s theoretical clash with Arsenal would be given a ranking of 1. Manchester City's theoretical clash with Burnley would be given a ranking of 19.

Now that we have explained how these rankings work, we can average out what each team has to deal with between now and the end of the season and the table looks as follows:

(smaller number = higher difficulty, larger number = lesser difficulty)

Team Average Opponent Matches Remaining
Brighton 6.67 6
Crystal Palace 8.00 6
Chelsea 8.43 7
Wolves 8.50 6
Bournemouth 8.50 6
Tottenham 9.00 6
West Ham 9.00 5
Liverpool 9.33 6
Aston Villa 9.80 5
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As we can see it is Brighton who currently have the toughest run in between now and the final day. The average position of all the Premier League opponents they are yet to face is 6.67 – the equivalent of every opponent already being in Europe and this is tougher than the London duo of Crystal Palace and Chelsea that follow behind them.

The Eagles picked up a shock win over Liverpool at Anfield and in doing so, have all but secured another season in the top tier. However, with a run-in that points to be rather difficult, Oliver Glasner's men cannot rest on their laurels just yet.

Brighton's Daunting Finale

🏆 Brighton faces the toughest run to the season's end in the Premier League, with opponents averaging 6.67 in standings! 🥈 Crystal Palace follows with 8.00 and Chelsea next with 8.43. Who will prevail? ⚽💪

While the main topic going into this final stretch of the season is how the three title protagonists will fare between now and the end of the season. When comparing holders Manchester City to their fellow title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal, there is not a great deal of difference but Pep Guardiola's do have the easiest of the lot. 

Liverpool on 9.33, Arsenal on 10.17 and Manchester City further back on 10.50. Now that all three title rivals have played each other in the league, it is going to be a sprint to the finish and a sprint that curent league leaders Manchester City look in the best place to win.

While the next few weeks could also be pivotal at the bottom and although Nottingham Forest have got issues both on and off the field of play, there may be a form of saving grace when it comes to their upcoming opponents.

Nottingham Forest's Glimmer of Hope

Nottingham Forest faces the easiest run in the Premier League relegation battle, with opponents averaging 13.00 in league positions. 🆚 Luton's tougher challenge looms with 12.40 Can the City Ground outfit seize this opportunity? ⚽🛡️

At present, Forest have the third-easiest run of fixtures when looking at current league places for their opponents. They only have an average of 13.00, whereas Luton a position below are worse off with 12.40. At the same time, you cannot overlook Everton's run-in either and with an opposition difficulty of 12.50, there is still a chance they could be dragged into the relegation battle.

As you can see though, there is only 7.50 positions difference between Brighton at the top of our list and Newcastle at the bottom and with the Magpies now in the top six, they will look to put their averge opponent difficulty of 14.17 to very good use.

However, we can also narrow our focus in terms of match difficulty and focus on each club’s next three league outings instead.

Team 1 2 3
Arsenal Wolves Chelsea Tottenham
Aston Villa Bournemouth Chelsea Brighton
Bournemouth Aston Villa Wolves Brighton
Brentford Luton Town Everton Fulham
Brighton Manchester City Bournemouth Aston Villa
Burnley Sheffield Utd Manchester Utd Newcastle Utd
Chelsea Arsenal Aston Villa Tottenham
Crystal Palace West Ham Newcastle Utd Fulham
Everton Nott'ham Forest Liverpool Brentford
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Here we have built a grid of each team in the Premier League (in alphabetical order) and highlighted who their next half dozen opponents will be. The simple thing would be to compare what Arsenal have to deal with against Manchester City and Liverpool and try and make some conclusions.

Then again, that approach could be considered too simple and using the same ranking logic below, we can now rate each of these 20 clubs and how difficult their next three matches will be: 

(smaller number = higher difficulty, larger number = lesser difficulty)

Team Average Next 3
Chelsea 3.67
Tottenham 4.67
Brighton 6.00
Bournemouth 8.33
Arsenal 8.33
Crystal Palace 8.67
West Ham 8.67
Aston Villa 10.67
Fulham 10.67
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If Arsenal are to win this season's edition of the Premier League, they may have to do things the hard way and with an average opposition rating of 8.33, they currently have the joint-fourth toughest next three matches - an unwanted accolade that they share with Bournemouth.

If we look at how Arsenal compare to both Manchester City and Liverpool. The former are 4.34 positions better off, the latter 3.67. Is the balance of power going to return to the North West of England? Is it going to return to Manchester?

Three Horse Race

📊 Arsenal faces a 8.33 opposition ranking, while Liverpool is better of at 12.00 . The next three games could define the Premier League title race, as Manchester City are top of the table and have a difficulty of 12.67 ⚽🏆 Can the Etihad outfit put these numbers to their advantage?

Then again, that is not the only battle that is shaping up throughout the Premier League table and with the race for fouth place heating up, it is Tottenham who will either be up for the challenge or crash and burn across their next three league matches with a opposition difficulty of 4.67 - the second highest in this latest table. 

Which is a whole six places worse off than Aston Villa and with their average opponent over the next three games being 10.67 by comparison. This could be the chance for Unai Emery's men to make some headway at the expense of Spurs.

Not only is the top four battle an interesting one but the same can be said for the race to finish sixth and with both Manchester and Newcastle United facing average opponents of 17.67 over their next three respective matches, neither side will be expected to drop points. The question is whether they can each meet that expectation?

Everton's Next Three

🚨 Everton faces a crucial stretch with an opposition ranking of 11.67! The next three games could be their ticket away from the Premier League relegation zone. Will they seize the chance? ⚽🔵

While at the bottom of the table, Luton will look to their next three matches as the true opportunity to finally drag themselves out of the bottom three. The average position of their opponent is 14.00, compared to Nottingham Forest, they are whole 1.67 positions better off. Perhaps more importantly, they are also 2.33 positions better off than Everton.

We should not overlook the form of Chelsea either and with a top seven finish now in their hands, they may come unstuck once their FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City is contested. The Blues have the toughest next three matches on average with a position rating of 3.67. Compare that to West Ham with 8.67 and David Moyes' men may eventually thrust themselves back into the top seven.

As you can see, there are plenty of sub-plots to be played out. Who will be smiling come the end of the season? Only time will tell and time is beginning to run out.


Editorial and Source Information

Dan Tracey

Dan Tracey

Data scientist and football editor

Dan Tracey is a multi-talented writer, data analyst and podcaster whose six-year career in the sports data sphere has seen incredible successes. From helping UEFA create their annual technical reports to writing articles for Sports Betting Websites including sites like TheLinesUS and Goal - there's no shortage of areas where his expertise shines through! In addition, he can be heard on podcasts lending an insightful voice as well as providing weekly betting angles - all culminating with him teaming up OLBG.com in the present day. Simply put: wherever you find angled data being crunched? You'll also likely find Dan not far behind!

👨‍🏫 Specialist Subjects🔬📚

Dan's specialist area is data; and lots of it! Wherever we need numbers to create our unique deep dive articles, Dan is our go-to. Dan is also a Tottenham Fan and a football commentator for Newcastle Blue Star

Data Source

https://fbref.com/en/comps/9/Premier-League-Stats

Correct as of April 17th 2024.

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