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Is there a top four threshold? How many points does Arsène need for Champions League qualification?

April 20, 2013

Following Arsenal’s draw with Everton in midweek the battle for fourth place has only intensified. Arsenal are in action today against Fulham, and though they have been on an impressive league run, taking 13 out of a possible 15 points in the last five games, they remain partially dependent on the results of Tottenham and Chelsea to ensure another year of Champions League football.

Previously we’ve looked at the predictions for fourth place and the historical data on the points needed to remain in that position. An interesting question arises in this situation, which is whether there is a real threshold which must be exceeded in order to take fourth.

The data show that over the past seven seasons the mean points total for clubs finishing fourth has been 70, but this ranged from 67 to 76. Indeed, the lowest points tally of 67 in this period was Arsenal in 2006. The difference is small and if you remove the outliers then we are essentially looking at a four point range for this position for most of this period.

Premier League Year End

Club in Fourth Place

Final Points

2012

Tottenham

69

2011

Arsenal

68

2010

Tottenham

70

2009

Arsenal

72

2008

Liverpool

76

2007

Arsenal

68

2006

Arsenal

67

However, if we are looking for the real threshold for fourth place, surely we should be looking at the performance the fifth placed teams to give us an idea of the real minimum which needs to be exceeded to finish higher than fifth.

In fact the points totals for teams finishing fifth in the period from 2006 to 2012 has always been between 60 and 67 points, and once again if the outliers are removed we are looking at a very small variance of three points, indicating that the fluctuations are small and that the data are relatively consistent over this period.

Premier League Year End

Club in Fifth Place

Final Points

2012

Newcastle

65

2011

Tottenham

62

2010

Man City

67

2009

Everton

63

2008

Everton

65

2007

Tottenham

60

2006

Tottenham

65

As the mean points for finishing in fifth place approximate to 64, we should then look to this figure as the total to exceed to finish in fourth place, therefore in an average season we might expect teams accumulating at least 65 points to finish fourth.

This season seems to be one of those which will be more competitive and the points total may be higher as Tottenham are on 58, Arsenal 60 and Chelsea on 61 with up to 18 points available (in the case of Tottenham and Chelsea who have six games to play).

Chelsea currently average approximately 1.9 points per game, Tottenham 1.8 and Arsenal 1.8. When this is used to estimate the points across the remaining games Arsenal and Tottenham are both placed on 69 points, and Chelsea 72.

The end-game?

3

Chelsea

72

4

Arsenal

69

5

Tottenham

69

This suggests that the race for fourth should be one of the most intense of the previous seven years, and that goal difference may be a deciding factor.

On the other hand, statistics and data cannot tell the whole story, and this is very much a predictive model, rather than an indicator of reality.

Tottenham themselves still have to play Chelsea who are the current incumbents in third place and also in touching distance, so the final outcome is far from certain. Undoubtedly, the fact that several of these teams are yet to play each other or close competitors, could skew the final result.

However, the model once again does suggest that 70 points would be enough to secure fourth, André Villas-Boas may yet be proved correct. This also shows that the points tally for each position is remarkably consistent. Today’s match against Fulham will provide further data which will go toward proving or disproving this idea.

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4 Comments
  1. Madjeff permalink
    April 20, 2013 2:29 pm

    Have u factored in the end of season arsenal officials factor, worth 3 points from the norwich game, and against 10 men for the Fulham game.

    • Anonymous permalink
      April 20, 2013 2:58 pm

      Really?

  2. Richard permalink
    April 20, 2013 3:20 pm

    Think your giving Chelsea to much credit. They play spuds, Everton utd and Liverpool. Think they will only get five points from those games and a total of 11 points over their last remaking games. Tottenham think about ten to twelve points from their remaining games. Taking we win today I take us to get ten points from the other four games giving us 73 points And even if we lose to utd it will be 72 which will give us third and cl next year

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