Race for the Premier League Top 4 – head to heads
With every passing game that Leicester remain near the top of the table, it seems increasingly likely that they might actually deserve to be there, rather than it just being a lucky streak sustained by a now record-breaking goal-scoring run. To succeed at the top end of the league, however, it’s necessary to beat the top teams. Thus far, there have been 16 matches between the current top 6 of the table and Chelsea.
Unfortunately for Leicester, they are dead last on all counts, with only 0.67 points per game and the worst shot differences per match by a distance (although their tactic is generally a counter-attacking one which will probably skew these in such a small sample). They’ve also played the least of these big games – only 3 – which doesn’t bode well for their future points tally, and all of these games have been at home.
Liverpool have the unique pleasure of having played all five of their matches in this group away from home, and have the joint best points per game record of this Magnificent Seven with an average of 1.6 per match. They also have the best shots on target difference record too, which bodes well for performance, although the sample is of course very small.
Spurs have played the most of these big games on 6, with 3 each at home and away, and have the 4th best (or worst) points per game record on 1.17. They do have the second best shot difference and shots on target difference in these games though, which is promising for future battles.
The Magnificent Seven table is below, and also casts doubts as to whether the 7th member should be included at all.
It doesn’t look like Chelsea are having a very good time against the teams they were rubbing shoulders with just a few months ago, just 4 points from four games. The fact that their shot numbers in these games is so bad too is maybe the larger cause for concern.
It’s interesting that, so far, Manchester City haven’t been doing tremendously well in these matches, though this could be partly stylistic, notable losses to Spurs and Liverpool, both teams who have similarly pressing-focussed styles.
Finally, to have said a word on all of the seven, it’s interesting just how similar Manchester United and Arsenal’s results on the table are, with very different numbers behind them, Arsenal taking many shots, United taking famously few.
In fact, there have only been 11 sides in the 16 matches (32 sides in total) to have taken fewer than 10 shots in a game – 8 of these instances have come in games featuring Manchester United. They themselves have only taken 10 shots in a game in this mini-league once, against Leicester where their total shot number was: 10. Magnificent 7 matches that feature United have just shy of 5 shots on target on average; for all the other teams the average is around double that.
It should be stressed that these are only small samples of games though, and these early few match-ups could feature blips here and there. However, the results are still interesting in this most peculiar of seasons.
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