Premier League Stat Around: Who Will Win the Title?

With just twelve matches left before the Premier League champion will be crowned, we decided to take a look at the contenders and offer our predictions as to who will raise the trophy, come May.

Premier League Champions: Arsenal

By Thomas Negron

I decided to build a simple linear regression model to predict this season’s Premier League champion. To keep this model relatively simple, I based it only on the points a team has obtained so far this season, their goal difference so far, and the points they had last season. I decided to include this last variable as a way to add more information about a team’s performance over several years. With over a season and a half of data, there is not room for form or luck to have too much of an effect. After running the regression and gaining expected final point totals, I ran a simulation to find the probability each of the current top 4 would end up on top.

So it does look likely that the Premier League title will be coming to North London. The slight edge for Arsenal is due in large part to their better performance last season. For this same reason, Leicester’s chances are quite small. Manchester City, on the other hand, seem to have been left behind after their 2-1 defeat against Tottenham last weekend.

I also used this regression to look at the chances each top four team has of finishing above the other. The table is read as the row team’s chances of finishing above the column’s team.

When looking at betting markets, this model gives Arsenal and Tottenham better chances at winning the title (Arsenal are at 3/2 or 40%, Tottenham are at 9/4 or 30.77%) while giving worse chances to Leicester and Manchester City (Leicester are at 11/4 or 26.67%, and Manchester City are at 7/1 or 12.5%).

Premier League Champions: Leicester City

By Brendan Kent

I love my Spurs, but it’s the year of the Fox. Leicester City are 12 matches from one of the most astounding Cinderella stories of all time. I don’t say this because I think Leicester are an inherently better team than Arsenal, Spurs, and Manchester City, but because the Foxes’ path to the title contains fewer and easier matches. With no more cups to compete for, Claudio Ranieri’s side will not have the extra matches that the other title contenders will have. Arsenal are still in the Champions League (though probably not for long) and FA Cup, Spurs are still in the Europa League, and Manchester City are still in the Champions League.

In a piece for Spurs Stat Man, I showed that Europa League matches on Thursday have a statistically significant negative effect on Premier League performance over the weekend. Yes, Spurs may put out a second-tier side in Europe, but the negative effect of Europa League could nonetheless take its toll.

As for Arsenal and Manchester City, playing a second-tier side in the Champions League is not an option. Yes, the scheduling of Champions League matches may be more manageable than the Europa League schedule, but the Gunners and the Citizens will be playing a full strength side every time out. Arsenal may also begin trotting out a first choice XI in the later rounds of the FA Cup.

On top of this, Leicester’s Premier League schedule is marginally easier than the other title contenders.

Remaining schedule for stat around.png

The Foxes are not a fluke anymore. They are in first position with a two-point advantage over Arsenal and Spurs and a six-point advantage over Manchester City, with a relatively easy schedule remaining. The 5,000 to 1 dream could soon be a reality.

Premier League Champions: Tottenham Hotspur

By Andrew Puopolo

Most people who argue that Tottenham Hotspur will win the Premier League point to the most obvious statistics that point to their superiority in the Premier League; goal differential (+27) and goals against (20). However, I decided to look a little further into why those stats are not a fluke. On the defensive end, Spurs have conceded the most fouls in the league but have yet to concede a red card. So why is that a positive? Given Tottenham’s high pressing style and their opponent’s tendency to sit back and counter attack, Spurs have the tactical wherewithal to disrupt opponent’s movements, thereby limiting goals conceded. The fact that they have yet to concede a red card means that the players have the discipline and maturity to not throw away a game with a moment of petulance. That Tottenham do not have a Diego Costa type player speaks volumes to this strategy of efficient fouling. Spurs also lead the league in shots on target. The old saying by Wayne Gretzky goes “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” That Tottenham take more shots than anyone else means that there is a higher probability that an opposition goalkeeper makes a mistake that leads to a Spurs goal (hence why Spurs are one goal shy of leading the league in goals). Tottenham have also been dribbled by the least number of times in the league, meaning that they are not often outdone by individual errors and must be broken down by moments of brilliance or by slick passing movements. Spurs boast the youngest age in the Premier League, which could mean fresher legs come May but also means that their learning curve is steeper and will gain more experience with every game.

Since the summer transfer window shut in September and the movement of players was restricted, Tottenham have also collected the most points (48) in the Premier League, three more than Arsenal and Leicester City and 13 more than Manchester City. Trips to Stamford Bridge and Anfield would look daunting in almost any other year, but given Chelsea and Liverpool’s travails this season are not nearly as daunting as they seem. Tottenham’s most difficult remaining fixture is obviously the North London Derby on March 5, and a win there would go a long way to bringing the title back to N17 for the first time since 1961.

Premier League Champions: Arsenal

By Will Ezekowitz

One of the biggest obstacles for the Gunners is their schedule. They still have to go to Manchester to play at City and United and also to Tottenham. But do these hard games really matter? We’re talking about a team that soundly beat Bayern Munich and also lost to Olympiacos in the same Champions League group stage. As it turns out, the data backs up the assertion that it doesn’t really matter who Arsenal play.


Possible Points

Actual Points

Points Taken %

















This table is a breakdown of how Arsenal have done against each segment of the table thus far this season (Note: they are in the 1-6 segment). These endpoints are arbitrary and the sample size is small, so the only conclusion to be made is that there is no conclusion. It would be wrong to say that the Gunners fare worse against better opponents.

This table also illustrates that Arsenal have beaten up on the bottom of the league, which has long been true. So it is pretty safe to assume that home games against Swansea (16th), Norwich (17th) and Aston Villa (20th) are basically free points, along with a trip to Sunderland (19th). Arsenal’s schedule is heavy on either end of the Premier League table, and that seems to suit them just fine.

The critique of Arsenal is their inability to score at times, a trait that has reared its ugly head of late. However, even though they have lately struggled to put good chances away in their past two games, they are converting on 10% of their shots, which is only very slightly worse than Tottenham’s 11.1% or City’s 10.6% (Leicester’s 14% seems almost too good to last).

But the squad depth that Arsene Wenger can enjoy now will improve his team going forward will improve this. Cazorla is coming back; Sanchez is back; Welbeck is back. Gone are the days of picking between Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell on the right wing. With the best 11 in place, chances should increase in number and quality, and Arsenal should get their goals, and with them, they’ll get their title.

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