By Brian Sears
7 May 2010
So to another dramatic denouement of close-run action, intrigue, drama and tension. But less about the general election. Let’s talk football. The Premier League season ends on Sunday and everyone wants to know one thing: who’s going to win the title?
The bookies – and probably the instincts – say Chelsea, because they have a home game against Wigan, and they only need to win to guarantee the prize. But do Manchester United have a prayer?
As a statistician I can only tell you this much: Manchester United have a better “last day” record than any club in the history of the Premier League. As our top table below shows, in the 17 completed seasons to date, they have won 12 last-day games, drawn three and lost two, for a whopping win percentage of 70.6 per cent, and 39 points.
Not only that, but their opponents this weekend are Stoke, who have played just one last-day Premier League game, last season. Stoke’s overall last-day percentage is a mere 41.2 per cent (seven wins from 17, all outside the Premier League). Their only last-day Premier League game was last season. They lost it.
And the upshot is: United are statistical bankers to win their match. More than 70 per cent likely to do so in fact, and that is not diminished by any good record on Stoke’s part, because Stoke have a zilch record at this level.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have won 10 of 17 last-day games in the League, for a (relatively) measly 58.8 per cent win rate. Okay. It’s not that measly. It’s better than everyone except United.
But who are Chelsea facing? Yep, the mighty Wigan, whose last day win record overall isn’t so great: 41.2 per cent. But in the four full Premier League seasons Wigan have experienced to date, they’ve won two of their last-day games.
So Chelsea have a mere 58.8 per cent win chance, diminished further by Wigan’s 50 per cent success rate in the Premier League. Squeaky wotsit time for Chelsea? Maybe we wouldn’t go that far, but the stats suggest it won’t be the utter romp widely expected.
Elsewhere, Fulham and Arsenal face each other with Arsenal trying to hold third place against a side an with identical last-game record (middling).
And as the Championship play-offs get underway, our second table shows Blackpool are most experienced in this field of the contenders (five outings at lower levels), but Leicester have four play-off experiences to bolster them, all of those with Premier League football at stake.
Blackpool have won 60 per cent of their play-off campaigns (three of five) while Leicester’s strike rate is 50 per cent (two in four), Cardiff’s is 33.33 (one in three) and Nottingham Forest’s is zero from two.