Why the 2018/19 Premier League season is the best ever... and the stats that prove it
The 2018/19 Premier League season could be one of the best ever. It's certainly one of the most dominant ever, as our friends at Gracenote explain...
Liverpool's lead at the top of the Premier League is a historically low four points for a team with at least 52 points at this stage. Gracenote has used its comprehensive database of English football to look at all the contenders to decide if they are the most dominant top four ever. Seasons which awarded two points for a win have been recalculated to three points for a win for comparative purposes.
The Key Stats
- Liverpool's total of 54 points from the first 21 matches is the 4th best record at this stage since the English top flight has had at least 20 clubs in it (1905/1906).
- Every club with at least 52 points at this stage has won the league but Liverpool's lead is the smallest of any of those 11 teams.
- Manchester City are the first top flight team to take 50 points or more from their first 21 matches and not be top of the league.
- Tottenham Hotspur 's total of 48 points is two points more than any team in third place has ever managed by this stage.
- Spurs are yet to draw this season and are the first team to have played the first 21 matches without a draw since Burnley in 1953/1954.
- No team in fourth place has bettered Chelsea's 44 points after 21 matches. Only Arsenal two seasons ago have had as many points as the Blues and only been fourth.
- This season's Premier League top-4 are likely to achieve more points than ever before, breaking the record of 333 (2.19 points per match) set in each of the last two seasons.
- Arsenal's 41 points is one of the four best records by a team not in the top four after 21 matches.
- There have been only six previous seasons in which the sixth placed team has had at least 38 points at this stage as Manchester United do. Only two clubs in sixth have had more than 38 points.
- At the bottom of the table, Huddersfield Town have the lowest points total after 21 matches since 2007/2008.Only three top flight teams since the 1905/06 season have recorded a better first 21 matches than Liverpool, but the Reds find themselves doing this in a season in which the points totals for the teams in second and third are unprecedented.
Chelsea's total of 44 points has never been bettered by a team ranked fourth at this stage.
A team with a points total as big as Liverpool's could reasonably expect to have a lead in double figures but with a gap of only four points to their main rivals, Liverpool do not have that luxury.
Here is a run-down of this season's top six clubs:
Recent attention has concentrated on Liverpool failing to win the league title when leading at Christmas but in each of those seasons, their lead was small. In fact, the leads Liverpool had at Christmas in 2008 and 2013 had already been lost by this point. The only previous Premier League season in which Liverpool led after 21 matches was 1996/1997 - by two points from Arsenal and four ahead of eventual champions Manchester United.
This season's Liverpool are another beast altogether, recording one of the best opening 21 matches in the English top flight since 1905/1906 when 20 teams competed for the first time. Normally such a start would result in a sizeable lead at this stage but Liverpool's lead over Manchester City is only four points, the smallest of any team with at least 52 points at this stage (re-calculating all seasons to 3 points for a win). Every team with at least 52 points after 21 matches has been crowned English champions but most had sizeable leads at this stage. Chelsea's five-point lead over Arsenal in 2004/2005 was the smallest prior to this season.
The difference between Liverpool and dominant teams in the past is that the Reds have a genuine rival for the title, and possibly even two. Seventeen clubs have had at least 51 points at this stage of the season but only one - Manchester City in 2011/2012 - had a rival within four points of them. Manchester United were 3 points behind City after 21 matches seven seasons ago and pushed City all the way to needing an injury time goal to win the title.
Victory over leaders Liverpool on January 3 made Manchester City the first top flight team to get 50 points from their first 21 matches and not be top of the league. The previous best points total for a team in second at this stage was Liverpool (49 points after 21 matches in 1990/1991 but behind Arsenal on goal difference) and Arsenal's Invincibles (49 points after 21 matches in 2003/2004 but a point behind Manchester United).
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino wants Christian Eriksen to commit to a new long-term contractPA Sport
The forgotten team of the Premier League title race is Tottenham Hotspur who have 48 points out of a possible 63 after winning 16 matches and losing five. No team in third place at this stage has ever had as many points as Tottenham this term. The previous best performance from a team in third at this stage was 46 by Spurs in 2011/2012 and Chelsea in 2013/2014.
One of the key reasons for Tottenham's points total this season is their lack of draws. Tottenham are the first team since 1953/1954 without a draw in their first 21 matches. Burnley won 13 and lost eight of their opening 21 matches that season and, amongst post-war seasons, only Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur this term have played so many games without drawing.
In fourth place, with 44 points, are Chelsea. This is a record equalling points total for the team in fourth at this stage with only Arsenal two seasons ago achieving such a total after 21 matches and not making it into the top three.
The top four over time
This season's Premier League top-4 are likely to achieve more points than ever before, breaking the record of 333 (2.19 points per match) set in each of the last two seasons. Since the Premier League reduced to 20 teams in 1995, the number of points claimed by the top-4 has shown an upward trend. Only one of the eight seasons between 1995/1996 and 2002/2003 saw the top-4 average two points per match whereas of the last eight seasons, only Leicester's title winning year saw the top-4 average less than two points per match.
Even fifth place has an unusually high points total for this stage with 41 points one of the four highest in top flight history for a team not in the top-4. Manchester City in 2016/2017 had a point more than the Gunners do now, Sheffield Wednesday (1960/1961 - recalculated to 3 points for a win) and Everton (2013/2014) are the other teams to have had 41 points after 21 matches of a top flight season and not be ranked in the top four.
Even much maligned Manchester United have a relatively high number of points for a sixth place team at this stage. Only seven teams outside the top-five have managed 38 points or more after 21 matches. However, as the Big-6 have become more dominant, this is the third successive season in which the sixth placed team has had at least 38 points and Manchester United had 40 two seasons ago in sixth spot.
With this sort of dominance, there must also be positions in the table with historically low points totals. Bottom club Huddersfield Town's 10 points are the lowest by any Premier League team at this stage since Derby County managed 7 points in their first 21 matches 11 seasons ago. In top flight history, only 11 clubs have previously had 10 points or fewer at this stage, recalculating each season to 3 points for a win. Every one of them was relegated at the end of the season with almost all of them finishing bottom.
Fulham's 14 points are the lowest for a team in 19th position for six years and the Cottagers are one of only four teams in the 20-team Premier League era to record 14 points or fewer at this stage and not be bottom. The others (Watford 1999/2000), Southampton (2004/2005) and Reading (2012/2013) were all relegated.
Article courtesy of Gracenote