Premier League half-term report: The key stats from the season so far
We are more than halfway through the Premier League season, with every team having played at least 19 of their 38 matches.
Arsenal and Manchester City appear destined to fight it out for the title, with the Gunners five points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side having played a game fewer, while Newcastle and Manchester United are edging Tottenham in the race to make the top four.
Brighton, Fulham and Brentford are enjoying superb campaigns, with all three outperforming last season’s runners-up Liverpool and big-spending Chelsea.
In contrast, West Ham and Everton are among the clubs that have struggled, with Sean Dyche appointed to save the Toffees from losing their Premier League status.
We have looked back at results and Premier League statistics to identify which teams are most likely to make a move up (or down) the table in the second half of the season.
Chelsea can’t beat the top sides
Chelsea have enjoyed a miserable campaign to date and are currently languishing in 10th place with just 29 points in 20 matches – their lowest tally since 2015-16.
Sadly for Graham Potter – who finds himself trailing former club Brighton in the table – results suggest that the Blues are exactly where they should be. While they have won eight out of 11 games against teams in the bottom half of the table, Potter’s men are winless in nine meetings with sides above them in the table.
Crystal Palace, Leicester, Tottenham and Fulham could equally be described as flat-track bullies. Palace and Leicester are without a win in matches against top-10 sides but have tasted victory in the majority of games against bottom-half opposition.
Likewise, Spurs and Fulham have relied on their ability to see off lower-ranked teams to maintain league position, having struggled in meetings with the Premier League’s elite.
Antonio Conte’s side have lost all five of their games against the current top four, while Marco Silva’s men have suffered defeat in seven out of eight matches against the top six.
Brentford, on the other hand, have excelled against the better sides while struggling to put away the teams they might be expected to beat. The Bees have won four out of nine meetings with top-half opposition – including memorable victories over Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool – compared with three out of 11 against teams outside the top 10.
Brentford’s attack has so far kept pace with Erling Haaland and City as the most efficient in the league. Thomas Frank’s men are scoring once in every six shots, which is the joint-best ratio in the division.
However, with the Bees having scored almost half of their goals from set-pieces – 14 out of 32 including a league-high five penalties – it remains to be seen whether their conversion rate is sustainable.
Wolves’ frontline has been the least effective in the Premier League, requiring 19 shots to score a goal on average – hence their paltry tally of 12 goals in 20 matches so far.
West Ham have been similarly profligate, although the recent improvement in Jarrod Bowen’s form could see their ratio of 16 shots per goal scored come down a little.
Both teams are outliers compared with the rest of the league and are likely to have experienced some degree of bad luck, so we may see their finishing improve as the season goes on.
Newcastle are on course for one of the best defensive seasons in Premier League history, having conceded just 11 goals in their first 20 matches.
The Magpies are on a run of seven clean sheets in a row in the league, with midfielder Bruno Guimaraes recently hailing goalkeeper Nick Pope as the best in the world.
Pope’s goal is leading something of a charmed life, with the net found once in every 19 shots on average – by far the best ratio in the division when we analyse the Premier League statistics.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford is next on 11 but despite their goalkeeper’s form, the beleaguered Toffees are still shipping plenty of goals having allowed 16 shots per game, the most of any team.
Brighton are the league’s least efficient defence, conceding a goal in every seven shots. The Seagulls could mount a serious European challenge if they can shore up at the back – Roberto De Zerbi’s men have allowed fewer shots than Newcastle so far this season (181 compared with 209), and yet they have conceded more than twice as many goals (27 compared with 11).
Another way in which we can use Premier League statistics to measure which teams have been lucky – or unlucky – is via the number of times they have been saved or denied by the woodwork this season.
West Ham stand out as a team who have been hard done by this season – if the eight shots that struck the post or crossbar in their Premier League games this season had gone in then they would have seven more points. Those extra points would move David Moyes’ side up to 12th in the standings, compared with their current position of 16th.
Newcastle and Manchester City would both be four points better off in the same scenario, which would make Arsenal’s position at the top of the table far less secure.
On the flipside, Crystal Palace would be looking over their shoulders more nervously if the woodwork had not come to their rescue. If we were to convert post and bar strikes into goals for their matches then they would have four fewer points and Eagles boss Patrick Vieira would be under considerably more pressure.
Southampton and Everton in trouble
While Palace’s tally of 24 points from 20 matches is likely to keep them clear of trouble, results from previous seasons suggest that Southampton and Everton will find it difficult to escape relegation from their current position.
Both clubs are adrift at the foot of the table on 15 points, with three-quarters of teams in an equivalent scenario going on to be relegated since the Premier League switched to 20 teams in 1995-96.
That said, the recently installed Nathan Jones and Sean Dyche can point to Newcastle’s efforts from last season as evidence of what might be possible. The Magpies were stranded at the bottom with 12 points from 20 matches, but went on to collect 37 points from their final 18 games to finish in 11th place.
History implies that any team with more than 20 points after 20 games is likely to survive. This is good news for Nottingham Forest, who have taken eight points from four matches in 2023 to move clear of trouble.
Meanwhile, collapses from sides in mid-table are very rare, with Blackpool in 2010-11 being the main exception. Ian Holloway’s side took 28 points from their first 20 matches, but were eventually relegated with 39 points – a tally that would have ensured survival in seven of the next 11 seasons.
At the other end of the table, Arsenal are just the seventh club in Premier League history to take at least 50 points from their opening 20 games, and they still have a match to play. Five of the previous six went on to win the title, with Liverpool in 2018-19 the only side that failed to do so having been pipped to the post by Man City.
The Reds are a long way from challenging for the title this season, however, sitting alongside Chelsea in the table, 10 points adrift of the top four. No team has ever overturned such a deficit at this stage of the season to qualify for the Champions League.
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