Over the last couple of posts, I've been looking at various ways to express the current league and points positions of the Premiership sides in such a way that the proximity and quantity of challengers is partly captured.
The 2013/14 table appears intent on tearing itself in two, with sides contending in historically high numbers to either win the title or escape relegation on the final weekend of the season. I've used standard scores, which tell you how close to the mean performance a team is as measured in the currency of the standard deviation of that particular performance measurement for the league as a whole.
Currently Arsenal have gained 2.29 points per game in a year where the average is a fairly typical 1.39 ppg with a standard deviation of 0.54 ppg. So they are 1.66 standard deviations away from the current league mean that represents major success for the majority or abject failure for the entitled few.
In 19 seasons of 38 match Premiership action Arsenal rank 15th in a table of standard scores of sides that led the table through 21 matches. So the current leaders are far from dominant in historical terms, 14 leaders were further from their league's points per game mean than Arsenal currently are in the 2013/14 iteration. So you would expect the challengers to be fairly close on their heels and that is the case.
At the foot of the table, Pulis' Palace have slipped to the bottom of the pile prior to a reunion with his former side, Stoke. However, the cast of sides genuinely attempting to claim mid table security is traditionally very crowded and this time around just 6 points separate Palace from Hull in tenth. A standard score of one standard deviation below the mean makes Palace the most impressive bottom placed team after 21 games in the history of the 38 game EPL.
In the table above I've ranked the current EPL teams in terms of their current standard scores compared to the historical dominance of the sides that occupied their league position after a similar number of matches during the preceding 18 seasons. I've flipped the y axis so that height denotes dominance in the rankings.
The sides occupying the safe haven of midtable are currently the least dominant crop for their position in EPL history. It really is a case of looking over their shoulders at the towering cluster of statistically very similar sides that occupy positions in the drop zone.
A similar scenario exists for Arsenal, the points gathering achievements of the teams directly below them, coupled with the Gunners' proximity to midtable should herald a competitive final four months at both ends of the table.