Took me a while to put this together, but I posted it in the "Where will we finish" thread as well, but I thought it would relevant in here too:
Right, I’ve looked at the remaining fixtures in all competitions of the current top 5 in the league. I believe now that Everton and United won’t be able to catch us and in fact we’ll even put more distance between them and ourselves, so I haven’t bothered to look at any of their games.
So here are the fixtures. Note a few things: With regards to Champions league I have only shown the quarters and semis on Chelsea’s fixture list since I highly doubt that Arsenal or City will progress. Even if they do, all the more fixtures for them. I have shown the FA cup fixtures for City and Arsenal. Should they both progress to the semis, Arsenal’s game with West Ham would have to be rescheduled as would our home game with City. And I’ve shown likely dates for when those games should be rescheduled. I’ve done the same with City’s game Vs Villa since that is due to be rescheduled any day now, but I have shown the likely times for when that’ll be. And finally I have shown the Europa League possible games for Spurs. They definitely have another 2 games to play in that (Vs Benfica) and a possible 2,4 or 5 more should they progress.
Anyway, here’s what it looks like: http://i.imgur.com/o1qhylk.png
Our lack of games is a huge advantage here. Especially considering Spurs, City and Chelsea all have to play us at Anfield. Those games against City and Chelsea will be pivotal with regard to the title race. And assuming Chelsea progress to the CL quarters, their fixtures around the start off April look tricky. They wouldn’t have an easy CL opponent considering the quality going through to the last 8 (minus the winner of the Man U/ Olympiakos game). Same goes for Spurs (to a lesser extent) with the Europa League.
Next, the top 5 teams from the past 5 seasons and how many points they finished with. Showing average points needed to finish top or 4th. Note that the team who finished in 4th place did not necessarily have the number of points NEEDED to finish 4th – e.g. in 08/09 Arsenal finished 4th with 72 points, but could have still finished there with just 64 points as the team in 5th (Everton) had only 63 points. Same goes for winning the title.
Here’s what that looks like, with the current top 5 at the bottom.http://i.imgur.com/1PFWDfl.png
First off, let’s look at 4th place: It has taken an average of 67 points to finish 4th and 73 points has always been enough to finish there. We have 59 points currently, so another 8 points from our remaining games means we might finish 4th and another 14 points mean we would be in an excellent position to finish there. The expected points target for this season is based on the teams currently occupying 1st and 5th. So if Spurs continue their average points per game for the remaining 10 games, they would finish with 71 points, meaning it would take 72 for a 4th placed finish. Of course Spurs could improve their average points per game and finish with more points than 71; however, I would still be surprised to see us finish below them now. Big game when we play them at our place. That could see us out of their reach and hopefully not getting drawn into a battle for 4th.
So now, looking at what we’re all dreaming of right now but aren’t letting ourselves believe just yet I’m aware that statement only actually rings true for a number of people and there are already plenty who believe we’ll win it – and good on them. Anyway, the league title. 1st place. It is possible isn’t it? And the more you look at the fixtures graphic, the more you believe we might just have the upper hand. So what do we have to do, to win the league? If city win their 2 games in hand they will leapfrog us, but the gap between us and top would remain 4 points. So let’s assume they do, just as a worst case scenario. We would have to catch 4 points on Chelsea and City over the next 10 games to win the title. Assuming by catching 4 points, our goal difference improved enough to beat City’s GD. With 59 points, we need 24 points from a possible 30 to finish with 84 points – the average needed to win it over the past 5 seasons. Should Chelsea and City keep up their points per game average, it would take 86 points to win it this season, in which case we would need 27 points from a possible 30. 24 points sounds do-able. 27 points perhaps not. But an awful lot hangs on the 2 games at Anfield Vs Chelsea and City. I believe that it will take 83 or 84 points to win the league this season.
So can we get 24 or 25 points from a possible 30 in those remaining games? You’re looking at winning 7 of them at least and drawing the other 3 (24 points). Or better, winning 8 and drawing 2 or drawing 1 and losing 1 (25 or 26 points). Of course it depends which games you win and which you draw/lose. Better to beat City and Chelsea and draw against Spurs/ United than vice versa.
Maintaining our average PPG, we would finish on 80 or 81 points I believe.
There is still a fair bit to go, and I reckon at the end of March we will have a really good idea of just how far this team can go. Those next 4 games will be crucial.
I personally believe we will finish comfortably inside the top 4 and that it’s actually Arsenal and Spurs in a fight for 4th place now (Arsenal will pip them to it). Will we do better than 3rd? I think so. Better than 2nd? We shall see.
To win the league from here will take a few things: The same determination shown by the lads so far, the same calmness and brilliance by Brendan, the same leadership of Steven Gerrard that we’ve seen perhaps better than ever this season, and the belief of everyone that we can do it – and a little bit of luck!
But from here, let’s take it one game at a time, and what better place to start, than with victory at Old Trafford.