Sunderland, Bournemouth, Watford to drop? Norwich hanging on? Villa and Newcastle safe? – And Leicester out of sight? Ask the fans!

John McCormick:
John McCormick: there are lies, damned lies, statistics and dodgy numbers

Monsieur Salut writes: John McCormick, our wizard with the stats, wrote this update to his series on the developing relegation scrap before Dick Advocaat left. His gut feelings may therefore change according to who is appointed, but I suspect his calculations will not, or at least not yet .. now over to John …

It’s still early days and small numbers of both wins and losses will continue to produce swings in win-loss ratios for some time, but with no game reports to post because of the international break it’s as good a time as any to make another visit to the bottom end of the table.
Those of you who’ve visited this series previously might remember that my last review took place just as the transfer window had closed and, with that, I gave you the opportunity to have another vote in the relegation poll that I’d opened in the close season.

1229 votes were cast this time, with Sunderland leading the pack and Bournemouth, Watford and then Norwich making the running:

relegation poll results after the close of the transfer window
relegation poll results after the close of the transfer window

We’re now eight games in. As I said at the start, it’s still early, so signs of how the season will progress need to be treated with caution, but how are these teams doing according to my chosen measure? This, you might recall, is win-loss ratios (or you can visit the start of the series).

The safety zone begins at 0.48. Keep above that and you won’t be relegated.
The dead zone begins at 0.45. Stay below that and you’re dying.

The space between is the danger zone. Clubs that drift into it might just find their tenancy of the Premiership ending.
Here’s a spot diagram to show the current position

Win loss ratios after 8 games
Win loss ratios after 8 games

Leicester are doing so well they are off the screen. Watford also appear to be doing well, with Norwich not doing too badly and Bournemouth hovering on the safe side of the danger area. There’s a clear gap between these clubs and the bottom three, as you can see.

However, spot diagrams show static positions.

They are useful, certainly, but give few hints about what’s going on. To try to identify trends I’ve looked at changes between game 4 (when I did my previous post) and game eight.

Changes in win-loss ratios between games 4 and 8
Changes in win-loss ratios between games 4 and 8

OK, Sunderland are flatlining, in dire straits, as are their neighbours from the land of frightened horses. Villa, too, are not looking healthy, having gone from being safe to inhabiting the dead zone. These three clubs richly deserve their positions at the bottom of the table, which isn’t lying.

But look at the graph above. Bournemouth are safe for the moment. So too are Norwich. However, both clubs are pointing in the wrong direction and both, you will remember, gained wins against Sunderland. I can see them struggling as the season unfolds. Watford have yet to play us, but have they also  declined after an impressive start?  I have to consider that possibility

Apart from Leicester, it’s not clear cut. There’s no doubt Sunderland, Newcastle and Villa are struggling. There are other clubs, such as Stoke and West Brom, which might drift in and out of contention. But, given that the current bottom three clubs, not to mention Stoke and West Brom, all have form at avoiding the drop, and given that more often than not at least one newly promoted club goes straight back down, Norwich, Bournemouth and Watford have to be looking at the next few weeks with some trepidation.

The punters who voted so decisively in my relegation poll may yet be right.

3 thoughts on “Sunderland, Bournemouth, Watford to drop? Norwich hanging on? Villa and Newcastle safe? – And Leicester out of sight? Ask the fans!”

  1. I genuinely see this being pretty much a five horse race by the end of the month. Sounds daft but the reality is you could all be 8-10 points adrift come November.

    Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford keep picking up points here and there and are still riding the wave. Inevitably the wave will break but they each only have to pick up five from their next five games, and with the games Newcastle, Sunderland and Villa have coming up, a fruitless few games could leave you all with a mountain to climb. I think West Brom are shiite and will keep you company though along with Bournemouth.

    Newcastle v Norwich, West Brom v Sunderland and Chelsea v Villa are massive games and games you all have to win. Draws will favour West Brom and Norwich and you’d expect Chelsea to beat Villa. I can’t see any of you winning any of those games but defeats for Newcastle and Sunderland would be disastrous.

    I actually think Norwich will beat Newcastle, they’re not a bad side and gave us a good game in the last half an hour. If they put that pressure on Newcastle they’ll win. Mbokani and Redmond are a real handful too. If Norwich win they’ll be eight points above the drop zone.

    West Brom v Sunderland has draw written all over it and Chelsea should beat one of the few teams worse than them this season. That will put Chelsea on 11 points, eight points above Newcastle, seven above Sunderland and Villa and two above West Brom. Bournemouth will lose to Man City and will be four points ahead of Villa and Sunderland and still five above Newcastle. The table could and probably will look like this;

    Norwich 12
    Watford 11
    Swansea 11
    Chelsea 11
    Stoke 10
    West Brom 9
    Bournemouth 8
    Villa 4
    Sunderland 4
    Newcastle 3

    It’s not looking good and it could be too late by the time Norwich and Watford’s slump happens. Psychologically being that far behind is not going to be easy to overcome. It took something special from a special group of players to come back from seven points but I just don’t see that kind of recovery in any of the bottom three.

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