Less than two months of this unique Premier League season have passed, but already three clubs have new managers at the helm and the outlook for other clubs has changed significantly from pre-season expectations.
The first two columns of the table below compare each team’s projected point tally at the start of the season, based on the spread betting companies’ total point markets, and how much expectations have already changed.
Leicester, who have lost their last six games to put pressure on boss Brendan Rodgers, are the team with the biggest adjustment. The results and performances saw their expected points tally drop by 13 points, enough to see their prospects fall nine places from an expected first-half side to potential relegation candidates.
The Foxes’ underlying numbers have been of concern for some time, however. Last season, Understat ranked them only 15th in expected runs and only Leeds allowed chances worth more expected goals from the 17 teams that remained in the division.
It was hoped that a better chance with injuries would raise their level, but Wesley Fofana’s extended departure has left a cloud hanging over Leicester both on and off the pitch.
Kasper Schmeichel is also gone and substitute goalkeeper Danny Ward has conceded 22 goals in just seven matches. Their worrying form at the start of the season, combined with the clinical finishing of their opponents, meant Leicester conceded more than double the number of goals they would normally have scored given the quality of their opponents’ chances – 22 from one xG of 10.8.
However, the table also shows that Leicester have had one of the toughest fixture streaks. Four of their seven matches have been against big-six clubs and their postponed match would have been against Aston Villa, who were under a similar level of pressure at the time.
It will be a comfort to Rodgers that their first five games after the international break represent one of the easiest schedules.
A team containing quality players such as James Maddison and Harvey Barnes should be too good to fail, and they have always created chances and scored at a reasonable pace which will give them chances for wins – but only if something happens. thing changes to background and basic errors are removed.
The Foxes’ regression coupled with slow starts from West Ham and Aston Villa saw the projected number of points required for a finish in the top half drop from 51 to 46. The congested bottom half moved more teams to a potential strike distance from the drop zone, which could be significant given that this season, more than any other, is likely to be affected by teams suffering from schedule-related injuries.
Fulham’s form also helped raise the relegation bar, increasing their pre-season projection by six points and five places. They picked up 11 points from visits to Arsenal and Tottenham and picked up one point against Liverpool.
That’s more than they would have scored initially, and 12 goals is a good comeback even if bolstered by a hot finish (xG 8.7) and a chance goal against Brighton.
Distributed companies believe the gap between the Big Six and the rest has increased slightly, and it will be interesting to see if this holds as European commitments intensify.
The biggest beneficiaries so far have been Arsenal, who have bolstered their top-four aspirations with six wins from seven games. They have had some favorable fixtures, but not as much as their north London rivals Tottenham, whose game against Manchester City has been postponed.
The Gunners have lost their only game to a side expected to finish above ninth – Manchester United – but to be perfect apart from that blip is impressive.
The sample sizes are still small, but their xG difference per game against the other six teams is +1.32, which is only surpassed by Manchester City (+1.73), so they were more dominant against the small lights than their top four rivals. .
The stats confirm the general impression that the Gunners have gone up a level this season, but fixtures against Tottenham and Liverpool after the international break will test their league titles and that theory further.
The meetings follow one another in October, with most teams except Arsenal and Manchester City having to play six times.
The fortunes and mood around the teams could change quickly, and the last column of the table ranks the difficulty of each club’s fixtures through the end of October.
We talked about how things are getting easier for Leicester, while conversely Manchester United will see their recent resurgence tested by a Manchester derby and games against Spurs and Chelsea, as well as their ongoing commitments in Europa League.
New Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi faces a baptism of fire with four of his opening six games against big-six opponents.
Don’t have a William Hill account? Sign up and bet €10 to get €30 free bets
Open a new account using promo code H30 only, min bet £10, min odds 1/2, free bets paid out in 2 x £15, free bets credited after first qualifying bet is settled, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply. T&Cs apply 18+ begambleaware.org
CLAIM THE OFFER HERE
MORE FREE BETS
Sign up for Racing Post Sport emails and get all the latest news and tips
Today’s best sports betting stories
Follow us on twitter @racingpostsport
FIRST PUBLICATION AT 5:15 PM, SEPTEMBER 23, 2022