Premier League previews, 13-14 Dec 2016

Seeing as there’s not a full midweek calendar, I thought I’d trial the inclusion of the Premier League in my standard preview coverage.

Below are the individual preview graphics for each game in the forthcoming round of fixtures. These smash together minimalist versions of two visualisations: each club’s E Ratings and their relative positions on the attack and defence scatter graphics.

I’ve explained them fully here, but in summary they’re intended as a simple pre-match comparison of two teams using high-level performance data. The graphic has three sections:

  1. The current ratings (with ranks) of the two teams and how these have changed over the past 30 league matches;
  2. A probability forecast for the match based on the ratings;
  3. Scatter graphics showing the teams’ attacking and defensive performance this season.

Before we launch into them, here’s each match is listed in descending order of how likely a home win is. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but this is NOT betting advice – there’s loads of relevant stuff that the model doesn’t factor in (e.g. injuries and suspensions) that will surely have an impact.



So Man City and Tottenham are heavily favoured to record a home win, with Spurs’ advantage having a lot to do with their low-rated opponents (Hull, the scope of whose problems are visible here) and Man City’s their generally strong performances (a few recent calamities notwithstanding).

Plenty of big sides are playing away in this round so it’s unsurprising to see Chelsea and Liverpool heavily favoured against Sunderland and Middlesbrough despite being the visitors in those games.

Individual matches


Leicester are definitely on the wane since last season but still look like a top half side at the moment. They don’t create a lot of chances but need fewer than average to score, which is what you’d expect of a counter-attacking team. Bournemouth are far from terrible themselves however – looking respectably average this season – and with home advantage factored in this looks like a finely-balanced fixture.2016-12-13-crystal-p-man-utd

Despite their chaotic form, Palace’s underlying performances haven’t been terrible: their defence is certainly getting worse and has been among the division’s leakiest, although some clinical attacking has partially compensated. Visitors United are unsurprisingly still favourites to win here and against such a vulnerable defence may be able to improve their finishing record: despite creating plenty of chances they’ve been the second most wasteful side in front of goal after Southampton.

Home advantage isn’t sufficient to make Everton favourites here, with Arsenal consistently performing like a top four side and having the most clinical attack in the top flight so far this season. While the hosts’ defence has given a decent account of itself so far the Gunners’ has been far more impressive and could well frustrate the Toffees, who have sometimes struggled to convert their chances.

Despite their recent difficulties, Manchester City consistently dominate matches to an eye-watering extent and that makes them heavy favourites for most matches. The visit of Watford presents an opportunity for the hosts to correct their poor form: the Hornets look good enough to remain in this division but tend to allow better chances than they themselves create.

Middlesbrough have looked far more convincing in defence than in attack so far, so they may not be able to take advantage of Liverpool’s porous defence. Nobody has created fewer chances than the home side, although they have been one of the most resilient teams at the back and therefore stand a fair chance of frustrating their visitors.

Both of these sides have been more wasteful than the average side in front of goal this season, although Southampton’s problems are far more acute. The Saints continue to perform well despite their profligacy and are operating one of the division’s better-performing defences, so outscoring them will not be all that easy for Stoke.

Sunderland look to have declined since last season and the visit of in-form Chelsea is unlikely to result in a home win. The Blues haven’t been as dominant as the likes of Man City but are among the most ruthless sides at both ends of the pitch, which makes them clear favourites here.

Hull have struggled to adapt to life back in the top flight and look among the worst performers at both ends of the pitch, which suggests that Tottenham should be able to dispatch them relatively straightforwardly. Some wasteful attacking has occasionally let Spurs down this season but their defence – the division’s most resilient – means that they shouldn’t need to score many goals to win a game like this.

Two relatively quiet attacks meet here, which suggests that we may not see that many goals. However the Swansea defence has looked suspect while West Brom’s has been relatively robust, so the hosts look the likelier to break the deadlock.

West Ham have definitely declined this season but they’ve had one of the tougher starts and look capable of sitting much higher in the table. The visit of Burnley is undoubtedly one of their better opportunities to record a home win, with nobody allowing more shots than the Clarets and only two sides taking fewer.