Wrinkly Pete alluded to my dodgy numbers in his post earlier in the week so here’s an overview on our performance to date, along with that of the clubs named in the headline, which were chosen by a free and democratic poll at the start of the season. I’m keeping it brief – only a quick trip to set the scene for a “before and after” post early in the new year, and I’ve included Swansea this time, on the grounds that some people did vote for “another club” and they fit the bill, being as it were, eleven Swans a sinking
We may have had some wins recently but we’re still in relegation zone, with a significant gap opening between the bottom three (ourselves, Swansea and Hull) and the top three of the other chosen clubs. The distance in the chart below is wide enough for me to hazard a guess that WBA, Watford and Bournemouth will be safe.
Then comes a middle group, comprising Burnley, ‘Boro and Crystal Palace. All of them are catchable, yet all of them are getting points here and there. It’s anyone’s guess how this will turn out but I suspect that at least one of them will be plodging in the clarts come the end of the season, and those clarts might be thick and deep enough to suck any errant club down:
Simplifying the chart by means of trendlines shows the three groups quite clearly but I must include my usual warning(s). Trendlines can’t show changes of trajectory very well and won’t give an accurate picture for a club that has not performed consistently. If you look at Sunderland’s trendline below and compare it with that in the last report you won’t see much of a difference; improved form hasn’t changed the gradient (downwards slope) of the trendline. However, the line’s r² value has dropped from above 0.9 to just above 0.5, which I’m interpreting as meaning (mathematicians might want to look away now) the downward trend is much less certain than it was.
After a long sequence of losses then four wins in six any Sunderland fan might say this is obvious and it is. But I haven’t been following the other clubs’ performances (I’ve just been calculating the average points needed per remaining game) so I can’t say what’s obvious and not for those clubs.
Taking those calculations, trendlines and r² values together does let me make suggestions, dodgy though they may be. And my suggestions are:
Bournemouth, WBA and Watford have quite high r² values; their performance is consistent and they will accumulate enough points for safety.
Hull’s downward pointing line has an equally high r² value. Their descent will continue and they will not become the fourth team to survive after being bottom at Christmas. Swansea, paralleling them closely and with the highest r² value of all, will follow them down.
That leaves one of SAFC, ‘Boro, Burnley and Palace to occupy the third spot. The latter three all have trendlines with very low r² values. I’m interpreting this to mean their lines have very little predictive value – any of them could pick up points or lose them.
With Palace having sacked their manager* (and with more sackings to come, surely) and the transfer window opening shortly things are likely to change. This is football and who really knows anything?
That’s about all I can say, apart from:
See you when the window closes, and a Happy Christmas
*Latest news: Sam’s already in post: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38411381