You may remember the first chart below. I posted it at the the mid-point of this season. It uses the improvement or deterioration of last season’s best and worst post-Christmas performers in the bottom half of the table, (i.e. Reading and Stoke) to predict the points that this season’s bottom teams will end up with if they perform at the same levels as those clubs. There’s also a middle range figure, generated from the average change in performance of all the bottom teams.
My prediction for Sunderland was that we would get between 21 and 39 points, with 30 being the reward for an average post-Christmas half. That thirty points could allow us to catch 6 of the teams above us but to do so they would all have to perform at a truly terrible level, something that wasn’t going to happen, given that they would be playing each other and even the direst performances result in some club being awarded points. This meant we not only had to improve but that also that some of the teams we were competing against had to slump.
I was going to run the figures at the end of January or mid-February to see what had developed but cup runs and weather caused a delay, then I thought I might as well wait until all of the bottom clubs had played 10 games from the first half of the season. Some teams did that a while ago but it took us to the game against Liverpool. So here are revised projections for the bottom clubs, based on those 10 games:
|points after 19 games||points after 29 games||improvement quotient||projected points with maintained performance||projected points at average improvement||projected points with West Ham’s improvement|
This table shows how each club improved or deteriorated in the ten games since Christmas compared to their pre-Christmas form, the points they would end up with if they continued at this level, the points they would end up with if they performed at an average level and the points they would get if they did what West Ham, the most improved post-Christmas team, did during that 10-game run. I must add a warning here. There’s no reason why any club should do any of these things. Some will improve, others will slump and there’s no way of telling which will do what. Furthermore, as games run out the differences become insurmountable, as has already happened with Fulham – to achieve West Ham’s level of improvement they would have to win five of their six remaining games and even this would only give them 39 points. This means the top range of points is a bit fanciful (but then the whole exercise has to be taken with a salt cellar). Nevertheless, I’ve left it in to show what was theoretically possible when I began putting this together.
The chart below shows the revised points ranges from this table. We’ve improved in comparison to the first half of the season and if we did as well as West Ham did in their games we could get as high as 42 points. If we slip to the average of the bottom clubs we could end up just getting past the 29 points the half-way predictions identified. Let’s assume we’ll do neither of these things and that we will maintain our current level of performance. We’d end up with 35 points, and we’d go down if the teams around us maintained the form they showed between Christmas and game 29 as 35 points won’t be enough to catch them.
This isn’t good news but there have been a few more games since all of the teams around us reached the 29 game stage. Taking these extra games (up to and including Fulham v Everton) into account has allowed me to recalculate and to produce a prediction for the end of the season. Here it is:
|points after 19 games||current points||improvement quotient||predicted points|
This ignores things such as dog-eat-dog double pointers and games against the league leaders, which might give us hope. Other than that, we’re one of two teams which could finish on 35 points if current form continues. We play the other in the last week of the season and they currently have a much better goal difference than us.
Hold on to your hats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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