Which Premier League clubs have the hardest and easiest run-ins?

w ^ith the international break almost over, we are approaching the business end of the season. Manchester City have a 14-point lead at the top of the 超级联赛 table, so we will not be treated to a title race over the next two months. 然而, the battles to finish in the top four and to avoid relegation are likely to go to the wire. With that in mind, we at WhoScored have analysed the 90 remaining games of the season and tried to illustrate the difficulty of each team’s run-in.

To get an idea of the task facing each team in their remaining games, we used our rating of their performances in home games and away games this season. Throughout the season, we calculate a rating for each team based on how they play in every game. Every event of importance in a game is taken into account, with a positive or negative effect on ratings weighted in relation to its area on the pitch and its outcome. The ratings are calculated live during games based on more than 200 statistics, such as goals scored, goals conceded, pass success rate, tackles, interceptions, dribbles and shots conceded.

所以, 例如, the first Premier League game after the international is Chelsea v West Brom at Stamford Bridge, a huge clash at both ends of the table. To determine the difficulty of the fixture for each team we have looked at the other side’s performances this season. Chelsea have a high rating of 6.86, which is based on their strong showings – particularly their exceptional defensive record since Thomas Tuchel took charge. Only Manchester City (21) have conceded fewer goals than Chelsea (25) in the league. The fewer goals a team concedes, the better their rating, and vice-versa, which is one of the reasons why West Brom, who have conceded the most goals in the league (57), have the second lowest rating of all 20 clubs.

To determine the difficulty of the game for Chelsea, we have calculated how well West Brom have played in their away fixtures – a lowly 6.49. Conversely, to determine the difficulty of the game for West Brom, we have used Chelsea’s home league rating (6.94). We have repeated this process for every remaining game this season to show which teams have the hardest and easiest run-ins.

The overall average of difficulty for the 90 remaining games is 6.716, which backs up what you would expect when it comes to the fixture at Stamford Bridge on Saturday: this is a considerably tougher fixtures for West Brom than Chelsea.

The average difficulty rating of Manchester City’s remaining Premier League fixtures is 6.743, which is the seventh hardest in the league and a little over the average. 曼联, who are 14 points behind City with a game in hand, have the third hardest run-in for their remaining nine matches. Given the difficulty of their upcoming fixtures, including matches against Tottenham and 利物浦, United fans will be relieved they beat West Ham just before the international break to move eight points clear of fifth place.

The difficulty of the run-ins really gets interesting in the battle for the top four, which is finely poised. Just five points separate five clubs from fourth through to eighth, giving Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton hope of finishing in the Champions League places. While Chelsea – like City, United and Leicester – rank among the top six for the hardest run-ins, West Ham, Tottenham and Liverpool place among the five easiest. The chasing pack could have an opportunity to catch up.

Liverpool have a particularly kind set of fixtures over the next two months. 实际上, our statistics suggest only Wolves have an easier end to the season than the champions. Liverpool return to domestic duties with a trip to Arsenal this weekend, and they still have to play United, but they also have games against three of the current bottom six in Newcastle, West Brom and Burnley.

Tottenham have a slightly tougher run-in than Liverpool. While Spurs have meetings with United, Everton and Leicester to come, they return to action on Sunday against relegation-threatened Newcastle and face Sheffield United at the beginning of May.

West Ham are Chelsea’s closest rivals for the top four, with just one place and two points separating the teams. The Hammers have exceeded expectations this season and they have a relatively comfortable run-in. Their meeting with Chelsea at the end of April could be crucial in determining who will secure that last Champions League place. Everton are level on points with Liverpool, and have a game in hand on those above them in the table, but they have a harder run-in than Liverpool, Spurs and West Ham.

At the other end of the table, Sheffield United have the easiest run-in of the clubs battling to beat the drop. They are 14 points off safety but, with a more favourable run-in than their rivals, is the great escape possible?

Brighton went into the international break on a high after back-to-back wins over Southampton and Newcastle. They are now six points clear of 18th-placed Fulham, which is just as well given that they have the hardest run-in of every club in the league. Graham Potter’s side have bought themselves some breathing space as they gear up for meetings with Manchester United and Everton after the international break. In the final weeks of the campaign, Brighton take on six of the Premier League’s current top nine, so Fulham have hope.

Newcastle and Burnley have easier run-ins than most, so will be hoping to pick up enough points to beat the drop. They play each other in early April, which will be an intriguing game. Even if Newcastle do not pick up enough points over the next few weeks, they have more opportunities in their final two games of the season – their clashes struggling Sheffield United and Fulham.

There are still plenty of twists and turns left in the campaign. With 90 league matches of the season still to play, it’s impossible to say who will finish in the top four and who will succumb to relegation, but this model hopefully gives us an idea about which teams face the toughest challenges.