Minute-by-minute table: Premier League, 23 Dec 2016

Today I’m updating one of my more off-the-wall pieces, looking at how different the league table would be if matches finished earlier. These usually tend to generate a few comments which begin with “If my Auntie had…” but I think they’re an interesting way to identify teams who tend to start or end matches unusually well (or badly).

What I’ve done is to calculate what each club’s league position would have been if only goals scored up to a certain minute counted, starting with the first minute and going all the way through to the 90th (where we rejoin reality). I’ve then drawn a line for each club to show how their league position would change if you did this.

This creates a lot of data points to visualise, so rather than a static image I’ve used an animated GIF to cycle through each club in turn. This shows every club in descending order of their final league position, on an infinite loop with each frame lasting two seconds. I’ve also gone for a minimalist look to keep load times down.

I appreciate that most people will want to look at their club for longer than two seconds in every 40, so if you click the graphic it will bring up a version in a new tab that can be paused, rewound etc.


Hopefully it’s obvious what’s going on:

  • The horizontal axis is the minute at which you artificially stop the clock in every match, divided by the lines into five and 15-minute segments (I’ve rolled injury time into the 45th and 90th minutes to keep things simple);
  • Vertically you have league position in descending order with the top four, mid-table and relegation places highlighted.

Not every club’s line is particularly interesting, but I’ve picked out a few of the wackier ones below.

If every match had ended at half time, Arsenal would be top


After the first 10 minutes or so, you can stop the clock almost anywhere in the first half and Arsenal would be top of the league table with 33 points to Chelsea’s 32. Only West Brom have seen a larger percentage of their goals conceded arrive in the second half than the Gunners’ 68.4% and West Ham are the only club to have dropped more points after scoring first (12 to Arsenal’s 11), so there’s some mileage in exploring whether their difficulties in defending leads could be costing them.

Everton fare much better after half time


I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Everton are the opposite of Arsenal, but it looks like they tend to enjoy the second halves of matches more than the first. The low point comes after 41 minutes when only Hull have a lower points tally than their 14, but by the 63rd minute they’ve clawed this back to 23 (their actual total), suggesting some effective use of the interval.

Burnley get worse as games go on


There’s an unmistakeable downward trend here: the longer a match goes on, the worse Burnley’s performances relative to the rest of the Premier League are. Whether this can be explained by their tactics – perhaps seeking to frustrate opponents and eventually being broken down – or is just a blip that will disappear over time is up for debate, but the reality is that they’d be looking a lot safer if they fared better in the last quarter of an hour or so.


Note: if you’d like a still image for a specific club, just ask me on Twitter.