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The Premier League Is Back: Here’s What You Forgot


Premier League football is finally back. June 17th will see the resumption of top-flight football in England for the first time since March 9th, exactly 100 days ago.
Here’s what you forgot over those 100 days. 

By: Jack Supple

The 2019/20 season will be the first English campaign to host league matches in June since 1946/47 – a year in which Liverpool were crowned top-flight champions for the fifth time in their history and Manchester City were promoted having won the second tier. While Liverpool are within touching distance of lifting the Premier League trophy, there is still plenty to play for throughout the rest of the division. There are several sides jostling for European qualification spots and at the other end, a relegation battle with only eight points separating the bottom six teams. We’re here to supply a data-driven refresher of the key stories from the Premier League.

Liverpool

In 2018/19, Liverpool came excruciatingly close to winning the title, with the Reds picking up 97 points – the most ever by a second-placed side and a total large enough to have won the top-flight in 118 of the previous 119 seasons. Jurgen Klopp’s side have continued in relentless fashion this season, accumulating a host of records along the way.

Liverpool sit top of the Premier League with 82 points, 25 points clear of Manchester City in second place. Indeed, their 25-point lead is the largest at the top of a table in the history of the English top-flight. They need only two wins to guarantee their first ever Premier League title, which would be their first top-flight success in 30 years, last tasting victory under the stewardship of club icon Kenny Dalglish.

Over the last two seasons, Liverpool have achieved a level of unnerving consistency, racking up 179 points in the process – 24 more than any other team. Between January 12, 2019 and February 24, 2020, Klopp’s men embarked upon a 44-game unbeaten run, which was the second longest in English top-flight history, bettered only by Arsenal (49 games between 2003 and 2004). During this run, Liverpool had equalled the all-time longest English top-flight winning run record set by Manchester City in 2017.

English Top-Flight - Longest Winning Runs

In March, they had broken their own long-standing record for most consecutive home wins in the top-flight. The Reds have currently won 22 league games in a row at Anfield between February 2019 and March 2020, overtaking the 21 wins set by Bill Shankly’s side in 1972.

English Top-Flight - Longest Winning Runs (Home)

With Klopp’s tactics now firmly embedded in the team, their seamless transitions between attack and defence are second nature. The Reds have evolved into masters at pressing their opponents, registering a league-high 518 pressed sequences, which is where the opposition has three or fewer passes in a sequence, and the sequence ends within 40m of their own goal. Their tenacity at pressuring the opposition in unwanted areas of the pitch is further demonstrated by their 191 high turnovers (Liverpool sequences that start in open play and begin 40m or less from the opponent’s goal).

Liverpool Pressing Metrics Under Klopp

Talk of an invincible season had followed the Reds throughout this campaign but this was halted when a surprise 0-3 defeat came at the hands of relegation-threatened Watford in February. Liverpool responded with a 2-1 win at home to Bournemouth in their next game, edging them ever closer to that elusive 19th top-flight title.

Manchester City

Last season, Manchester City became the first side to retain the Premier League title since Man Utd in 2008/09, setting unbelievably high standards on the pitch to fend off challengers Liverpool. In 2019/20, they have fallen short of those lofty ideals, with defensive errors proving to be their downfall this term. The Citizens have made five errors leading directly to goals this season, three more than in 2018/19, while their goals conceded per game ratio is their highest in a Premier League campaign under Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City under Pep Guardiola - Premier League

SeasonGoals Conceded/GameErrors Leading to GoalsxG AgainstxG Against/Game
2016/171.03528.90.76
2017/180.71623.90.63
2018/190.61225.20.66
2019/201.11528.11.00

Even though Manchester City are currently second in the Premier League and the division’s top scorers (68), they have still lost seven matches in 2019/20 – the most suffered by manager Pep Guardiola in a top-flight league season in his managerial career.

Interestingly, the average league position of their opponents in those seven defeats this season is ninth – which is the position their next opponents Arsenal currently sit in the table. Under Mikel Arteta, the Gunners have proven to be stubborn opposition in 2020 and are the only unbeaten side in the Premier League this calendar year (W4 D4). In fact, only Liverpool (27) have taken more points than Arsenal (16) in 2020.

However, from a creative standpoint for Manchester City, the sparkling form of Kevin De Bruyne has him well placed to break the single-season assist record. The Belgian has provided a league-high 16 assists this term, which is just four behind Thierry Henry’s 20 in 2002/03.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea

In southwest London, Frank Lampard has been overseeing a revolution of the culture at Chelsea in 2019/20. Lampard, who scored against a record 39 different teams as a player in the Premier League, has opted to give younger players a chance in the first team, which is a seismic shift from the previous regimes.

Chelsea minutes/season

Lampard has given 6,848 minutes to players aged 21 or under in the Premier League this season, the highest such total for a Chelsea side in a 38-game campaign in the competition. To further aid the shift in focus to developing their youngsters, Lampard has given seven different players aged 20 or under their Chelsea debuts in the Premier League in 2019/20 – the most by a Blues manager in a single season.

Lampard promotion of youth

Lampard has been willing to give English players such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James plenty of first-team opportunities in 2019/20, with 28% of the total minutes played by Chelsea players this season coming via Englishmen – their highest such share since 2011/12 (31%).

Impressively, Lampard’s young guns currently occupy a Champions League spot all while playing a possession-based brand of football. Indeed, Chelsea have had more possession than their opponents in 28 of their 29 games this season (97%), a league-high total and share.

Battle for Europe

Manchester United will be aiming to overtake Chelsea for the final Champions League place, and they will be looking to January signing Bruno Fernandes to lead the charge. From his debut on February 1 until March 9, Fernandes was involved in more Premier League goals than any other player (5 – 2 goals, 3 assists) and has been the catalyst to their attack.

Man Utd (since Feb 1st 2020) - Premier League

PlayerChances CreatedAssistsExpected Assists
Bruno Fernandes1130.67
Nemanja Matic810.11
Fred600.31
Aaron Wan-Bissaka510.43
Luke Shaw500.30

The return of Marcus Rashford will be welcome news to Manchester United, as the England star was in fine form before his season was curtailed through injury. Rashford had netted 11 goals in his last 14 Premier League appearances and is one goal away from hitting 20 in all competitions this term. He can become the first Englishman to net 20+ goals for United in a season since Wayne Rooney in 2011/12 (34).

Since Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge at Leicester City in March 2019, the Foxes have won 70 points – a figure bettered only by Liverpool (110) and Manchester City (84). Although their recent form of just two wins in eight needs addressing, they are well placed to achieve a Champions League spot, in part because of Jamie Vardy.

Jamie Vardy Shot Map 2019 20 Premier League

With the former England international currently on 99 Premier League goals, he is almost certain to become the first Leicester player to reach 100 goals in the competition. In fact, in Leicester’s top-flight history only Arthur Chandler, Ernie Hine and Arthur Lochhead have scored 100+ goals.

Newly promoted Sheffield United have defied expectations this season, with Chris Wilder taking the Blades from League One to fighting it out for a European qualification spot in just under four years. Sheffield United have been one of the most resolute sides in the Premier League this season, conceding just 25 goals in 28 games. Only Liverpool (21) have let in fewer. Their goals conceded total is the fewest by a newly promoted side after 28 games of a top-flight season since Nottingham Forest in 1977/78 (18), who won the league that season.

No Premier League team has played more games in all competitions than Wolves (48), owing to their advancement through the Europa League. Wolves’ fighting spirit has been personified in their ability to win points from losing positions. Nuno Espírito Santo’s men have picked up a Premier League-high 21 points from losing positions this season, more than any other team.

Best Duo Combinations - Premier League 2019/20

Player 1 NamePlayer 2 NameTeamP1 to P2 AssistsP2 to P1 AssistsTotal Goals
Adama TraoréRaúl JiménezWolves538
Kevin De BruyneSergio AgüeroManchester City606
Mohamed SalahRoberto FirminoLiverpool235
Teemu PukkiTodd CantwellNorwich325

The relationship of star duo Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traore has been fruitful from an attacking perspective too, with the pair combining for eight Premier League goals this season, more than any other duo in the competition.

In November, Tottenham Hotspur parted company with long-serving manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Lilywhites’ had started the league campaign poorly, languishing in 14th position after 12 games. They opted for three-time Premier League winner Jose Mourinho and since then they have seen a general upturn in performances.

Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League 2019/20

ManagerPts/GamexG/GamexGC/GamePossession (%)Shot Conversion (%)Passing Accuracy (%)
José Mourinho1.591.481.5550.114.479.0
Mauricio Pochettino1.171.151.5055.812.083.9

Spurs have picked up 1.59 points-per-game under the Portuguese compared with 1.17 under Pochettino in 2019/20. Their expected goals average has seen an increase under Mourinho, suggesting they are improving the quality of their chances in matches. However, they’ve also had a spike in their expected goals conceded average, gifting the opposition a higher standard of scoring opportunity. Since Mourinho’s first game in charge (November 23, 2019), Spurs have conceded 38 goals in all competitions, and only one Premier League side has conceded more in this period (Aston Villa 42).

Relegation Battle – Predicted Finish

The relegation battle in the Premier League this season is set to go down to the wire, with just four points splitting Brighton and Hove Albion in 15th down to Aston Villa in 19th. Sadly, bottom-placed Norwich City, haven’t been outside the Premier League relegation zone since October 4 and have sat bottom of the league since Boxing Day.

The statistical model the Stats Perform AI team uses to predict a final table for the Premier League estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team’s attacking and defensive quality. Those ratings are allocated based on four years’ worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for changes in form and personnel over time. The outcome of the season is simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Based on this data, here are the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table:

Stats Perform Premier League Simulation 2019 20

Click to enlarge.

The writing’s on the wall for Norwich, with the simulation giving them just a 5.7% chance of survival.

Newly promoted Aston Villa could be facing an immediate return to the Championship unless they can muster a late surge. The Villans have conceded a league-high 56 goals – their highest total at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1986/87 (58), when they were relegated to the second tier. Their first game back will be on June 17 against Sheffield United, and it will be their first ever competitive match in June. The model estimates there is over a 78% chance that they will fall down the trapdoor.

So far in 2019/20, 18th place Bournemouth are averaging their lowest average possession (44.3%), lowest passing accuracy (75.9%), lowest shots on target per game (3.4) and highest shots on target faced per game (5.3) figures in any of their five Premier League campaigns. Eddie Howe will need more from his side if they are to avoid the drop, with the Cherries winning just two of their last 12 Premier League games, failing to keep a single clean sheet during this period.

Watford, predicted to survive the drop on goal difference, have failed to score in a league-high 13 different Premier League games this season and have averaged under a goal per game (0.93). However, since Pearson’s first home match in charge of Watford (December 22), only Liverpool (18) have won more points in home Premier League games than the Hornets (13 – W4 D1 L1). Overall, the Hornets will be buoyed by Pearson’s tenure so far – winning 1.38 points per game compared to 0.56 prior to his arrival.

The return of David Moyes hasn’t garnered the results the West Ham board might have envisaged, with the Hammers winning just two of their 10 Premier League games under the Scotsman so far. A worrying statistic for West Ham is that they have lost more points from winning positions than any other side in the Premier League this season (22). If they can improve upon their proclivity for dropping points, Moyes may well have steer them clear of relegation for a second season after doing so in 2017/18.

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