Premier League Futures: Title, Top-4 and Relegation Contenders
There are many ways to approach this season’s EPL which kicks off this Saturday night.
For the glass half empty people, it sure looks like another season of Manchester City dominance with a brilliant only squad strengthened by the arrival of Jack Grealish and quite possibly Harry Kane as well.
For those with a glass half-full approach to life, this season’s campaign will showcase just how far the EPL has separated itself from the rest of the world, and owing to the ambition of the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, coupled with a much healthier Liverpool squad, could well see an epic title fight.
Optimists also see a league with a plethora of storylines outside of simply the race to win it all, while any league which houses Marcelo Bielsa is of course a more spectacular and enlightened one.
Thankfully, the number crunchers at Stats Insider have been extremely busy in preparation for the new season and have poured in all their data and expertise and performed no less than 5,000 season simulations to provide some brilliant insight as to what to expect over the coming months.
Without further ado, let’s take a stroll trough the English Premier League’s countryside.
The Title Chase
Manchester City are 56.9% favourites to win their 4th title in 5 seasons, a feat only Manchester United have been able to do in the EPL era, and something Alex Ferguson’s men did on 3 separate occasions.
According to Stats Insider’s numbers, City’s strongest challenge could come from Liverpool. Presently, the Reds have been pegged as a 15.7% chance of grabbing their second title in 3 seasons, and which will be strengthened by the return of Virgil Van Dijk who played just five games last season.
Chelsea are up next, and who’s 11.2% title projection number should rise owing to the imminent arrival of Romelu Lukaku. The reigning UCL champions flew home last season and will benefit from a full season under the brilliant Thomas Tuchel.
Last season’s runner’s up Manchester United are 4th favourites, with the 20-time English champions pegged as a 9.6% chance of winning it all. They’ve been very busy this off-season adding both Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane while also welcoming back Jesse Lingard. United also have a particularly gentle start to the season where not one of their first 8 games is scheduled against a top-4 outfit from last season.
As for the rest, our projections are indicating that it really is, at least at this stage, a four-team race. The EPL’s other 16 teams all have less than a 2% chance of causing a massive upset, led by the upset kings themselves, and current FA Cup and Community Shield champs Leicester City who have a 1.9% chance of repeating their 2016 heroics.
All of the EPL’s title contenders have at least a 60% chance of a top-4 finish according to the model, led by Manchester City at 93.2%, and rounded out by Manchester United at 60.3%.
In between, Chelsea are a 63.1% chance of fishing top-4 for the 17th time in 20 seasons, while Liverpool are a 72.1% chance of securing their 6th straight top-4 finish, a feat the Reds have never achieved in the EPL era.
If anyone is expected to crash the top-4 party it’s Leicester City, who off the back of consecutive 5th place finishers are currently assessed as a 25.1% chance of a top-4 spot. For now, Harry Kane is still at Tottenham, and that’s a major reason why Spurs are still a 26.2% top-4 prospect. Remember Arsenal? Of course you do, they finished in the top-4 in 20-straight seasons under Arsene Wegner, though have largely been firing blanks in recent years. After consecutive 8th place finishers, the Gunners are currently slotted as a 21.5% chance of their first top-4 berth in six seasons.
The rest of the field is currently assessed as less than a 10% chance of breaking through, with West Ham the most realistic chance at 9.2%, closely followed by Rafa Benitez’s Everton (7.8%) and Aston Villa (7.1%).
The Relegation Fight
For now, the futures model is a little hostile to the newbies, pegging all of Norwich City (60.5%), Watford (55.7%) and Brentford (41.4%) to immediately go back down to the Championship.
As for those more familiar with Premier League life, our numbers are a little suspicious of Burnley, giving them a 39.3% relegation chance. Crystal Palace, like Burnley, have done a great job staying afloat in recent years, however Patrick Viera’s squad has been slapped with a 36.1% chance of relegation to the Championship, a league the Eagles haven’t seen in 9 years.
For now, those 5 clubs are the clear favourites to find themselves in a fight for survival, with the rest of the league all assessed as less than a 20% chances of going down. That list is led by Newcastle (19.1%) and Southampton (14.4%) who while geographically a long way apart, will perhaps be united by a tense fight for their premier league lives
All 13 other teams are less than a 10% chance of going down, however Brighton is a curious outfit slotted in as our model’s eighth most likely relegation candidate at 8.8%. Wolverhampton and Leeds are next up at 6.9% and 6.7% respectively.
What about Manchester City? Well, they’re a 0.0% chance of going down, which means there’s more chance an alien invasion than there is the prospect of Pep Guardiola having to match wits with with the likes of Blackpool or Nottingham Forest. All of Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have less than a 1% chance of realising a similar, inglorious fate.
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