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Expectations table: Arsenal recover lost ground

8 November 2011

Arsenal have improved on last season's results despite a troubled start (Image: Flickr/Crystian Cruz)

Last month, my expectations-adjusted league table attracted a lot of good feedback, and so November’s international break provides a good window to revisit the standings.

The table directly compared this season’s results to last season’s corresponding games, thus giving a fair idea of a team’s progress or decline. Although not perfect, it’s a better way of evaluating results than ‘this time last season’ comparisons, which overlooks difficult or easy fixture lists.

The key findings in October’s post were:

  • Newcastle were the clear exceeders of expectations, gathering 1.7 points per game more than the corresponding matches last season.
  • Manchester United and Bolton weren’t doing as well/badly as the league table suggested, both virtually matching last season’s results.
  • Arsenal were the big strugglers, losing 0.8 points per game based on last season.

It’s a fairly similar story a month on, with a few notable exceptions:

Having been bottom of this table in early October, Arsenal now lie fifth after a largely uncredited run of good results. Given the positions and improvements of Newcastle, Liverpool and Spurs, a turnaround was essential for the Gunners.

Newcastle continue to confound expectations. Alan Pardew’s team have collected 24 points from 10 league matches (excluding a 0-0 draw with QPR); in the corresponding matches last season they collected only 6, meaning they’re 1.8 points per game better off.

In the coming month, Newcastle twice travel to Manchester to play the league’s top two teams before facing Chelsea at home; last season they collected one point from these games. More than six points this time would see them maintain their 1.8 points per game improvement, though I’m sure most fans would settle for a marginal improvement on 2010/11.

At the bottom, Blackburn and Wigan have had their sorry starts confirmed; they can’t even blame a particularly challenging run of games for their league positions.

Liverpool’s position may be overstated – two home draws against promoted Norwich and Swansea are unaccounted for in the table. The other major reservation with the metric – freak results raising expectations – has somewhat hurt West Brom’s position; six points against Arsenal (a) and Liverpool (h) last season translated into zero points in the past fortnight.

Again, the numbers aren’t meant for any serious analysis, but they certainly make for good reading for Arsenal fans compared to last month.

Click here for October’s league table. Thanks again to Dan Kennett for the original idea.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 November 2011 8:20 am

    Thank you for the great idea of the ‘expectations table’, or as I prefer ‘progress table’. It inspired me to make a similar table for the Dutch league, to be found at . Belgian table coming up. Thx! 🙂


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