|The header that may break a 44 year drought.|
All of the clubs in the Premier League had now played 36 matches. The season now comes down to two crazy weekends of action that will determine which of the two Manchesters will claim the title and which of the four teams battling for the final two Champions League positions will be on the outside looking in when the season ends.
When it comes to the battle for first place, all that can be said is that Manchester United picked the worst time to literally have their worst form of the season (see graph below). After spending every week of the season but one at or above the 1.5 PPM threshold, United's loss to City on Monday dropped them to a 4-match average of 1.0 PPM. That drop in form, along with Manchester City winning their last four matches for a 3.0 PPM on a 4-match basis, has allowed City to draw even on points and take the lead based upon goal differential.
City's win, United's loss, the clubs' prior form, and their remaining opponents mean the Euro Club Index puts City's odds of winning the title at 58%.
In the race for Champions League positions, the one point separating Arsenal, Tottenham, and Newcastle will certainly make for an interesting two weekends of action. Mid-week wins by Spurs and Newcastle have now put both ahead of Arsenal on a 4-match running average basis (see graph below).
In terms of odds of finish position, the Euro Club Index has provided the numbers in the table below.
Compared to my last update, the following changes have been realized:
- Arsenal's draw at Stoke combined with Spurs and Newcastle's mid-week wins have lowered the Gunners' odds of finishing third by 8%. Their likelihood of finishing fourth went up by 6%, and their odds of finishing fifth are up 1%.
- Tottenham's odds of finishing third have gone up 10%, while their odds of finishing fourth have gone up 27%. They are virtually assured of finishing no lower than fifth.
- Newcastle must beat Manchester City this weekend to continue to have a shot at finishing third. The Euro Club Index has the odds of that match's outcome as 29% Newcastle Win/32% Draw/39% City Win. It's not unprecedented for Newcastle to buck the ECI's predictions, with the latest example being their win at Chelsea only having a 9% likelihood of happening according to the Index.
- Chelsea's loss to Newcastle effectively eliminated them from contention for third, and they only have a 3.3% chance of finishing fourth. Chelsea's only hope of playing in next year's Champions League tournament is to beat Bayern in the final of this year's tournament.
This weekend's action will go a long way towards determining the Premier League outcome, with perhaps the Manchester City/Newcastle United affair having the biggest impact. Enjoy what should be an exciting weekend of soccer!