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S.P.O.R.T – End Of Season Special

 

Welcome to the final edition of SPORT [Stats Perform’s Overall Review of Things] where we look underneath football’s gleaming exterior to try and work out why what happened, happened and why that other thing didn’t. Or maybe it did and you didn’t notice.

By: Duncan Alexander

SITUATION

We have completed 37 of the 38 match weeks in the 2019/20 Premier League. Just one round of games remain, all to be played at 4pm on Sunday. Simultaneous games have not been much of a feature of football since the sport’s resumption and the dramatic to-ing and fro-ing in the Championship’s denouement on Wednesday night showed that people are ready and waiting for fast-paced multiverse football. Ahead of the final action of the season, here’s SPORT’s guide to what has been decided and what you need to look out for.

WHAT WE KNOW

Liverpool are league champions for the first time in 30 years. You may have heard about this.

Manchester City have created a mini-league of one team, 18 points behind Liverpool, 15 ahead of the chasing pack. They are the most socially distanced team in top-flight history, which is useful.

Sheffield United cannot finish in the top seven but will finish in the top 10 for the first time since SMS’s were first sent. U r good Blades x

Arsenal will finish outside the top six for the first time since 1995.

Southampton cannot become the first team since Nottingham Forest in 1963 to concede 9+ goals in a game and still finish in the top-half, but if they win by two goals on the final day they will end the season with a goal difference of -9, which is splendid.

Norwich are down and are the first team to ever get relegated five times from the Premier League.

UP FOR GRABS NOW

If Liverpool win their final game they set a new club record of 99 points. If they draw they end the season with 97 for the second year in a row, which will be the first time they have recorded the same points total for two successive campaigns since 1976/77 and 1977/78. Then 57 points was enough for first, then second, so a haunting reverse of the current situation.

Two of Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City will join Manchester City and Liverpool in next season’s Champions League. Those three clubs are responsible for 19 of the 28 league titles in the Premier League era.

Wolves and Tottenham will contest sixth place and a guaranteed Europa League spot

Seventh place will also get Europa League entry if Chelsea win the FA Cup. If Arsenal do, this means Tottenham could come seventh and be denied European football by their arch-rivals. Mind the trap.

Two of Aston Villa, Watford and Bournemouth will join Norwich in the Championship next season. The latter two came up together in 2015, but will they return in unison like synchronised swimmers? Very possibly.

WHAT ELSE CAN HAPPEN?

Kevin De Bruyne needs one more assist to equal Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 20 in one campaign.

A hat-trick from Harry Kane (or Theo Walcott) would see them become the joint-top scorers on the final day of Premier League action, with nine goals, going level with Andy Cole and Les Ferdinand.

Crystal Palace have not scored more than two goals in any of their 37 Premier League games this season. Only seven sides have gone through a whole season without doing so, and all of those ended up going down. Impressive, in a way, from the not-relegated Eagles.

Manchester City need three goals to reach 100 for the third time in the last six years. No top-flight team managed this even once between 1963 and 2014.

Mohamed Salah would like to win the Golden Boot for a third successive season but has contrived to waste seven clear cut chances since the restart, more than Tottenham have as an entire club. You have to create big chances to waste them, I suppose, but even so.

The only players to have scored more than 20 Premier League goals this season are English: Jamie Vardy and Danny Ings. If either of them win the Golden Boot they’ll be only the second English player (after Harry Kane in 2016 and 2017) to win it since Kevin Phillips did so way back in (the year) 2000.

Some players simply cannot score, though. Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is currently being fought over by a number of clubs but they aren’t signing him for his goalscoring, given he has had 46 shots this season and is yet to score, making him the biggest waster of chances in the division.

The man in that position creatively, so the most chances created but no assists to his name, is Fred, with 35. He also has an expected goals tally of 1.7 without a goal. The Manchester United man has made progress in his second season at Old Trafford but the numbers show it could have been even better. Anyone tired with Bruno Fernandes’ excellent start to life at the club should pivot to the hipster choice: Fred.