With another decent upset today, combined with losses by the two league leaders, Leicester City moved to the top of the EPL table today for the week. This is particularly impressive given that a year ago today they were at the bottom of the table, and preparing for a relegation fight they would barely survive. Because Chelsea managed to beat Norwich City at Stamford Bridge, we were given a respite from “Chelsea in crisis” stories and are finally talking about Leicester City. But how well are they performing?
In a slight moment of bragging, I would like to say that my model tipped Leicester to have a pretty good season, picking them to finish 8th in my pre-season analysis. Clearly my SVM (which I’m calling “Model of the Same old Nonsense”, or “MOTSON”) saw something in their team at the beginning of the season, despite a bad TAM Coefficient from the season before.
However, even with my lofty predictions, they’ve managed to over-perform to the tune of a +10 over expectations, which is remarkable given the already high prediction my model had for them. Compare this to Chelsea’s disastrous season where they are 12 points below expectations, and it’s evident that Leicester is in the middle of a special season here.
Analytics TwitterTM pointed out that their next 6 games are particularly difficult: Man United (h), Swansea (a), Chelsea (h), Everton (a), Liverpool (a), and Man City (h). But the good news for Leicester City is that I only have them expected to pick up 6.42 points out of these 6 fixtures, or basically 1 point a game. So even if their pace cools off quite a bit (which you’d expect), they don’t have to do much to stay at the level they’re at through the first set of fixtures, which has them challenging for a European place and starting to separate from the pack a little bit, especially if/when Chelsea drops off a little bit more. The Leicester/Chelsea fixture could be particularly important – I have them as a *slight* favorite actually, expected to win 1.39 points compared to 1.2 for Chelsea. Who would have thought in the pre-season that this could be a Europa League 6 pointer?
I’ll leave the “Can Leicester maintain their form?” posts to others, but for my purposes it’s important to note that MOTSON hasn’t updated its predictions with Leicester’s form. Even if they only perform at pre-season levels they’ll be in contention for a European spot. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 6 games, but their expected points from the next fixtures are low enough that they shouldn’t have much of a problem meeting them and staying up where they are as we go into the return fixtures.