EPL Preview – Part 2 – Establishing the boundariesBy
OK, so in part one of this series yesterday we established a best estimate for the EPL total points figure to be somewhere in the 1040-1046 point range.
Building on this, can historical data help us to allocate these points between the 20 sides? I believe it can.
Before we even begin to look at the individual sides in question, there are a number of distinct points “thresholds” that can be aligned with certain positions. The most famous of these is the magical “40 point” mark which ensures Premier League survival.
Well, actually, it doesn’t. The guaranteed survival threshold is at least 3 points higher than this. For those that care, the answer to the trivia question in West Ham United. They were unfortunate enough to go down in 2002/03 with a whopping 42 points. The highest total for a relegated team since then is a measly 36 points.
Another threshold we hear about regularly is the title winning figure. Chelsea edged Man United last season by a solitary point with a haul of 86 points, however the last time that would of been good enough to prevail was also back in 2002/03 – which may well not be a coincidence if you think about it!
Generally you would be looking to amass 88 – 90 points if you want to take home the title.
There are a number of other clear point ranges that can be established. For example, 70 points should give a team a great chance of playing Champions League football the following year and anywhere in the range of 48-52 points will, almost without fail, see a club finish within a single place of the mid-table 10th position.
Let’s have a look at some data.
The table below shows the historical point averages by position over the last 15 years of the EPL along with 5 year maximum and minimum values:
Historic EPL total points analysis
|Position||2010A||15 yr AVE||10 yr AVE||
5 yr AVE
5 yr MIN
5 yr MAX
95-05 vs 06-10
As shown in the chart below, there appears to be some evidence here to support the theory I proposed that there is an increasing disparity between the top sides in the EPL and the remainder of the league. The mean points tally for top 10 positions has increased over the 2006 – 2010 period versus the 10 year period from 1995 – 2005.
The increase is particularly prevalent across the Top 8 positions, with the mean average having increased by at least 4 points at all positions – an average increase of around 6% over the period.
EPL Points – % change by Position (95-05 vs. 06-10)
Conversely you will notice the decreasing totals achieved by the sides in the bottom half of the table. Given the finite number of points available it is pretty obvious that this would have to be the case.
I think the significant decrease in the average number of points achieved by the bottom sides is interesting, although it is somewhat biased by the diabolical attempts of Derby County a few years back. Could the introduction of the parachute payments have something to do with this I wonder? I wonder, are more teams accepting their fate and using their promotion as an opportunity to build for the future? The significant overspending of numerous regimes in the late 90’s continues to impact a number of smaller clubs across the UK.
Let’s take this one step further and start to have a look at Sporting Index’s points forecast for the season ahead. This is shown in the table below along with variance analysis versus 5 year league average, maximum and minimum values.
Sporting Index’s points forecast & variance analysis
5 yr AVE
5 yr MAX
5 yr MIN
|SI 2011F||v 5 yr AVE||v 5 yr MIN||
v 5 yr MAX
As you will see from the “v 5 yr” columns, Sporting Index are predicting higher points totals for the 5th and 6th position teams this season than have been recorded in the last 5 years. This makes sense given that at least one of Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City will be in there. Add in a deeper Spurs squad, a developing Villa side and Everton’s second half surge last year and the chances of a points hike in this area are likely.
As what I believe to be a consequence of the above, this improvement in the top half of the league is forecasted to suppress the totals of the top 2 to record levels.
Although I feel this may be a little bit of an overreaction on Sporting’s part, there is at least intuitive method in the madness. I would certainly go long on Chelsea at 83 points if forced, with what I believe to be only a possible 2-3 point downside.
My third observation would be in relation to Sporting’s points forecast for the 9th – 12th place teams. They are currently forecasting significant drops for the 9th and 10th placed teams even based on the current 5 year lows.
Now I want to make one thing clear here. I don’t think Sporting have messed up their entire forecasting model. Their forecasting process will be too tight for such an error.
However, I believe they have priced a number of teams “conservatively” due to a lack of evidence to indicate which of the mid-table teams are likely to kick on.
The market expects Birmingham to regress. Stoke regularly seem to make more than the sum of their parts. Fulham are entering a new, and likely more inconsistent, era. Blackburn are in the midst of ownership flux which is preventing Fat Sam from adding to the squad as he would wish. Sunderland are likely to be Jekyll and Hyde yet again. And they signed Titus Bramble.
As a result, Sporting have chosen to price a huge number of teams in the 41-45 point range as a result of the amount of uncertainty in the marketplace. But trust me this won’t last.
By the end of September we will have a couple of teams forecast to come in around the 50-52 point mark.
They have left us a wide open door and a load of beer tokens on the coffee table.
And if we can figure out which teams are the most likely to kick on, we should be drinking for free next May.
Check back in on Monday when I will move on to individual teams as we head towards some rational selections for the season ahead.