Typically, the approach to predicting the Premier League’s relegation candidates in pre-season goes like this: One, include the three newly promoted sides. Two, nclude three other teams that were just above the drop the previous season. And three, choose your least favorite mid-table team and assume they will have a bad year
And that approach works more often than not. However, for this analysis we’ll compare the simodds.com results now that gameweek 11 of the Premier League has concluded.
First, here were the pre-season simulation favorites for relegation
|Team||Odds of relegation|
The first thing to notice is that more than half the league had a non zero chance of relegation. Granted, Stoke, Swansea City, and Southampton were all predicted to be more likely to finish in top seven than be relegated but the chance was there.
What about the three promoted teams? QPR and Burnley are, as expected, two of the three most likely teams to be relegated. However, Leicester City is ahead of Sunderland and only ninth most likely to be relegated. They are an interesting case and will be examined in more detail later on.
What about the three teams closest to relegation last season? West Brom, Hull City, and Aston Villa are also close to the bottom, with Hull City clearly in the bottom three with a 56% chance of relegation.
Now that 29% of the Premier League season has been completed, how do things stand?
|Team||Odds of relegation|
Sorry, the Tottenham line is just a bad joke to see if anyone is still paying attention!
Let’s go through each team one by one.
Burnley – Determining the strength of a promoted side is difficult for two reasons. First, promoted teams often have significant additions of personnel during the summer. Second, and more importantly, the ELO ratings need to be adjusted because teams in the Championship do not play teams in the Premier League. Well, they do in the cup competitions but clubelo.com does not use cup matches as part of the ELO calculations. Since we know the first place team in the Championship will, on average, be in the bottom third of the Premier League, adjustments to the ELO rating clearly need to be made. However, until the teams are actually participating in the Premier League, there is a bit of guess work involved. For Burnley, the pre-season rating of 1563 looks to have been too high, with too much emphasis on their superb season in the Championship last year. Their rating has declined to 1518 (with a bump this last week due to their first win of the season, over Hull). With only seven points, their odds of relegation are now almost three in four.
QPR – Promoted via the playoffs after a fourth place finish, QPR’s rating has declined from 1519 to 1504. Although their rating is lower than Burnley’s, QPR has one more point than Burnley. Also, their strength of remaining schedule (SoRS) is a bit easier. Their SoRS is actually lower than all of the other bottom teams except for Aston Villa. Nothing in their performance this season indicates that they should be considered anything other than a relegation favorite.
Hull City – When I first saw Hull City’s pre-season simulation prediction, I felt the need to double check the accuracy. My impression of Hull City last season was one of decent performance for a newly promoted side. Sure enough, their ELO rating increased from 1440 to 1551 at their peak last season, which is fantastic. However, their form since 4/5/2014 has been 4 wins, 9 losses, and seven draws. Although they have drawn Arsenal and Liverpool this season, they have lost many games against weak opposition. Their ELO ratings only declined this season from 1520 to 1515 but the drop since last season’s peak is significant and it puts them in the rating range of QPR and Burnley. Still they have eleven points with a good goal difference. Why should they be third favorite to be relegated? The answer is that they have the second most difficult remaining schedule in the league. Still, my guess remains that Hull City will end up squeaking to safety, based on nothing other than personal observation of their play.
Crystal Palace – They were certainly the team to root for the second half of last season, at least as a neutral. Their ELO rating went on a rocket ride last season, from 1430 to 1570. Pre-season they had a 27% chance of relegation, which seemed reasonable for a team in their second season in the premier league. Also, their incredible success last season contained a bit of good fortune so a regression to the mean was likely. Sure enough, they have dipped from 1575 to 1542 this season. Whether that is due to personnel, Tony Pulis’s resignation, or regression to the mean is up for debate. Crystal Palace is at real risk of relegation and is in the cluster of four teams with the distinctly highest risk.
Leicester City – Last season’s runaway win in the Championship bumped their rating from 1440 to 1590 at the start of the season. An excellent start to the Premier League season (8 from 15 against a very difficult schedule) raised the rating all the way to 1630! Since then they have gained only a single point and now their rating sits at 1565. With only nine points, they are in the relegation zone by goal difference. Currently the simulations expect Leicester to dig themselves out. However, I suspect the ratings are skewed a bit high because of lingering Championship adjustment effects. Leicester City’s odds of relegation will likely increase over the next several weeks.
Aston Villa – Similar to Leicester, Aston Villa had a good start to the season and then went into a dive. Their odds are at 22% only because they have accumulated eleven points with just five goals scored. Another couple of losses and their early season point advantage will be gone. At that point it will start to look like a multiple team race for relegation.
Sunderland – Although their odds of relegation are only 7%, Sunderland is worth some analysis. Last year, they finished the season with an amazing run to escape relegation. This year, they’ve accumulated twelve points with only two wins. Twelve points doesn’t sound impressive but they are only three points from ninth place Stoke City. Coupled with their surprisingly solid ELO rating, due to the large number of draws and last season’s end of year great run of form, Sunderland should easily be safe. Their ELO has also steadied this season, so far, and they do not show any of the signs of decline so many other relegation candidates have shown.
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