Thursday 4 February 2016

"...And Then We Went To The Etihad".

Manchester City entertain surprise package Leicester in the mid day televised Premier League game on Saturday in the first of five, potentially high leverage head to head matches involving the current top four teams between now and May.

It is unusual to have four teams in genuine contention for the title with just 140 matches remaining, so although the outcome of the early kick off will move the dial it won't be as dramatic as if there were fewer title hopefuls.

The current market odds favour Manchester City followed by Arsenal, the respective second and third favourites in the preseason. So August liabilities may be still skewing the market's February estimation of either lifting the title.

By contrast, Tottenham and Leicester where available respectively at triple and quadruple digit odds.

Numbers are oblivious to any monetary balancing of the books and even the fluctuating levels of future performance that a high profile manager in waiting may inspire. They simply rise or fall as the matches are played out.

Not so very long ago, Leicester were just Championship FA Cup cannon fodder for the Premier League Big Boys.
Manchester City has averaged 1.83 expected goals per game and allowed 1.09 in the season so far compared to Leicester's 1.58 and 1.21 respectively, which gives the hosts a 53% chance of winning, 23% the draw and 24% the visiting Foxes.

The market is more bullish about the hosts (five Premier League losses so far) beating the twice defeated upstarts. It puts Manchester City's chances at nearer 60%.

There will be around 20 minutes to digest the result from the Etihad before the probabilistic projections of Spurs entertaining Watford and Sunday's trip to Bournemouth by Arsenal begin to turn into real points.

There'll also be ample time for the North London fan base to root for the best case scenario for their respective sides in the early game.

So how will the three possible outcomes alter, not only the title chances of the two Citys, but also those of Arsenal and Spurs?

How a Manchester City win might change the title odds at 3 o'clock on Saturday Feb. 6th.

How a draw might change the title odds.

How a Leicester win might change the title odds.

Obviously a win is the best possible outcome for either Manchester City or Leicester.

The host would draw level with their visitors with a win, the most likely outcome. Viewed purely in terms of the relative strengths and remaining schedule of the four challengers, Manchester City's likelihood of winning the title would remain below 50%. Although  in a potentially skewed market they are likely to move to odds on.

A Manchester City win is also marginally the worst outcome for Arsenal.

Spurs can root for a Man City win or a draw. Although the latter would turn their Valentine's Day game at the Etihad into a high leverage game.

A Leicester win would eat into the chances of each of their three competitors, particularly Manchester City's.

Although their underlying inferior defensive and attacking expected goals would mean that even a six point lead would be insufficient to overturn a title win by someone other than the Foxes as still the most likely outcome come 3 o'clock on Saturday.


  1. I think you're massively bullish on Leicesters' and Spurs' chances for this title. Have them both in for less than 5%.

    1. No subjective input at all, just this seasons data.

      Spurs are stats wise the best team, but are trailing the top two.

      Leicester are the weakest of the top four, but have points in the bag.

      Hence it's currently very tight at the top.