Thursday 17 April 2014

The Race For 1st and 4th.

A quick piece of housekeeping to follow up the relegation post after the weekend games.

Liverpool's win over Manchester City failed to settle the title race, but it did tilt the odds strongly in favour of the victors. The Reds and particularly Chelsea, then watched on as Sunderland came within minutes of taking all three points from City on Wednesday night, before gratefully settling for a draw.

The title now lies in the hands of Liverpool and Chelsea, win out and that side will be crowned champions by virtue of their head to head meeting at Anfield at the end of April.

Title Odds as of 17 April 2014. 

Team. Liverpool. Chelsea. Manchester City.
Title Likelihood. 65% 22.5% 12.5%

Chelsea will be the outsiders of three at Anfield, behind Liverpool and the draw, hence the large preference for Liverpool to take the title. However, match odds of around 47% for a Liverpool victory refer to longterm expectation, rather than a single iteration, so chance and luck will quite likely play a part as they did at Anfield on Sunday.

Goal difference has largely become cast in the title chase. There's around a 5% chance that Chelsea and Liverpool will end the season level on points, but virtually all of these ties would be settled in Liverpool's favour. A 5 goal margin of victory in the head to head would be needed to wipe out Liverpool's current advantage in one swoop, (somewhere in the order of 1,000/1), but even then the sides would also need to finish level, most likely on 84 points. Nine goals is too big a gap to bridge in just four games.

City trail both Chelsea and Liverpool, but have a superior goal difference. If they catch one or both (a triple tie is about a 0.5% chance), they almost certainly maintain or increase their current advantage.

The title is now Liverpool's to lose.

Goal difference is one straw that the blue half of Merseyside are currently clutching after Pulisball found its unlikely vindaloo factor by scoring one more than Everton as Crystal Palace reached 40 points in a 5 goal thriller. Should Liverpool falter, the clamour to crown Tony Pulis manager of the season may prove irresistible and the irony won't be lost in the Potteries, if clever defensive spoiling and set piece efficiency suddenly becomes fashionable five years after its inception.

Roberto Martinez is correct in stating that even Everton's current slender three goal difference superiority could prove decisive in the battle for 4th, although only in a minority outcome. If the teams are tied at the end of the season, Everton win nearly 90% of those occasions by virtue of goal difference. Unfortunately, ties are only likely to occur less than 5% of the time and overall Arsenal took a huge step towards securing UCL football on the back of a favour from their favourite pantomime villain and the honesty in the penalty area of West Ham's Matt Jarvis.

4th Place Odds as of 17th April 2014.

Team. Arsenal. Everton.
Likelihood of 4th. 85% 13%

As over at StatsBomb points out, Pulis is now cast in the role of Kingmaker. Having fatally wounded Everton and greatly inconvenienced Chelsea, he faces both Liverpool and Manchester City, against whom his record with a similarly hard working Stoke side was excellent in matches away from their home comforts.

During Pulis' reign at the Britannia Stadium, a Stoke side that was assured Premiership football next season looked and played very much like any other Stoke side and for all that he departed Stoke on relatively good terms, it must appeal if he could end the season with Palace positioned above Stoke.


  1. Do you have numbers on the likelihood of Liverpool winning at the beginning or in the early parts of the season? I imagine a bet on Liverpool early would have given great odds.

  2. Hi Gummi,
    from memory Liverpool were around 20/1 at the start of the season and still 5/1 on Christmas Day, when they were briefly top of the table.