It’s awfully early to be thinking this way, but Chelsea and Spurs have a huge game this weekend. It’s really early in the season this sort of thing, but looking at the predicted probabilities this game could have significant implications on the race for fourth place. Here’s the heat map of predicted probabilities based on the potential results for both teams:
It’s striking how similar the two heat maps look, the predicted probabilities are virtually identical for the two teams for each of the three results. A loss drops Spurs’s chances for the Top 4 down to 21%, while a loss for Chelsea drops them down to 18%. A tie puts Spurs at 29% while Chelsea has a 28% chance of finishing top 4, while a win gives both Spurs and Chelsea a 42% chance.
Thinking about pre-season expectations, the strategies here might be very different: Chelsea only having a 42% chance is really low but 18% (and falling) is unacceptable for them. Meanwhile, Spurs would be ecstatic with a 42% chance at this point in the season, while 21% would still likely be ahead of pre-season expectations. Emotionally, Spurs have less to lose and everything to gain so I would expect Pochettino to go for the win here. On the other side, Mourinho might be inclined to play it safe, play for a 0-0 draw (while hopefully stealing a win on a Willian free kick), and live to fight another day. Stopping Spurs from picking up the full three points could be as important as getting something from the match themselves.
Meanwhile, Liverpool has a slight preference for a draw, but their likelihood of top 4 isn’t really affected by what happens in Chelsea v. Spurs, leaving them at about 30% to qualify.
The match is probably worth watching for the drama and early season implications, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a boring outing for neutrals. There aren’t many games this early that could have such huge implications for the end of the season, so it’s worth keeping an eye on for Spurs and Chelsea fans alike.