Strange times in the Premier League these days. When I was a boy there was a ‘Big 5′ of Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd, Everton and Spurs, who tended to have a bit more money coming in through the turnstiles than most of the others, leading to more success – though in Spurs’ case not for very long. Other teams rose and fell, but one or other of the Big 5 always seemed to be around the top. Then in the 1990s and early 2000s there was a ‘Big 4’ of Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Then Man City were bought by a country wanting respectability in the west to cover up their appalling human rights record, so we were back to a sort of Big 5, with Spurs and Everton lagging a bit behind but occasionally finishing above one or two of the other big boys. Recently Spurs have employed a half-decent manager and Everton have struggled a bit to get any nearer the top, but still largely kept clear of the rest.
We now have a seemingly fairly stable group of six plus Everton, and pretty much everyone believes these teams should fill the top seven places come the end of the season, as they have done several times in recent years. Only the fact of Leicester’s remarkable victory in 2016 gives cause for any doubt at all.
So if you ask anyone for a prediction of positions at the end of the season you’ll be most unlikely to see much variation in names. Of 11 football writers in The Times, nine have picked Man City to be first and eight have picked Man Utd to be second. There is one outlier in the predictions: coincidentally or not, this is the only woman invited to make a prediction, Alyson Rudd. She’s gone for a top four of Spurs, Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal. (Presumably she really doesn’t rate Pep or she just forgot that Man City exist.) Other than that it’s a very clear pattern of Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea as the top three, then Spurs or Arsenal in fourth, with Spurs shading it. Liverpool are only picked in one of the 11 predictions, and Everton not at all.
I polled some Arsenal fans on twitter then averaged out the results. Overall, Arsenal fans believe the final table will be:
- Man City (average placing 1.46)
- Man Utd (2.02)
- Chelsea (3.5)
- Arsenal (4.28)
- Spurs (4.68)
- Liverpool (5.28)
Pretty similar to The Times, but as a group we Arsenal fans can’t quite believe (or don’t want to) that Spurs will finish above us again.
My personal feeling is that they won’t – I think the Wembley effect will mean they drop a lot of points at home, as other teams literally treat it as a Cup Final.
What does all this prove? Nothing much, I don’t suppose. It’ll be interesting to see whether this crowd-sourced wisdom has come up with the right final table, but should I put money on it? Not too much, I think.
Incidentally this was with an amalgamation of 50 predictions, but I bet that if I had 500 or 1000 the result would be the same. I find that the pattern establishes itself pretty early.
If you want to start looking at putting some bets on for the end of the football season then Oddschanger will provide insights into how the odds have changed over the season so you can place well informed bets.