Which team has had the easiest run of fixtures?

Date published: Monday 9th October 2017 11:05

With every team having played seven games, the Premier League table is finally starting to take shape. The two Manchester clubs are first and second, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal are in the top six and Crystal Palace are bloody awful.

However, there is a huge difference between the easiest and toughest fixture lists so far. Manchester City and Manchester United may be top of the league, but both clubs have been the beneficiaries of gentle starts to the season.

The below table ranks the Premier League teams according to the average current league position of their seven league opponents (current league position in brackets):

1) Everton 6.9 (16th)
2) Crystal Palace 8.1 (20th)
3) Stoke City 8.3 (13th)
4) Chelsea 8.7 (4th)
5) Leicester City 8.9 (17th)
6) West Ham 9.3 (15th)
7) Liverpool 9.4 (7th)
8) Brighton 9.9 (14th)
9) Swansea City 9.9 (18th)
10) Bournemouth 10.1 (19th)
11) Burnley 10.1 (6th)
12) Tottenham 11.3 (3rd)
13) West Brom 11.4 (10th)
14) Newcastle United 11.6 (9th)
15) Watford 11.6 (8th)
16) Huddersfield 11.7 (11th)
17) Arsenal 12.0 (5th)
18) Southampton 12.4 (12th)
19) Manchester City 12.6 (1st)
20) Manchester United 15.9 (2nd)

Initial thoughts:

– All is not lost for Crystal Palace and Ronald Koeman. Both are under pressure after dire starts to the season, but have faced incredibly difficult runs of fixtures until now.

– Manchester United’s run of games has been incredibly gentle. The gap between their average opponent (15.9) and even Manchester City’s in 19th (12.6) is 3.3. That’s the same as the gap between 19th and 6th.

– For all Arsenal’s resurgent form (and they did draw against Chelsea), they have also enjoyed a gentle run of fixtures. They may be up to fifth now, but can they cope when the tougher games arrive?

– Chelsea are one of the over-achievers, despite losing two league games already and dropping seven points at home. They have faced the fourth toughest run of games, and are still in the top four. In fact, they are the only current member of the top six who are in the top half of hardest runs.

– The one club that do look a little buggered are Southampton, who sit 12th (and three points off the relegation zone) but have enjoyed the third easiest run of games.

– Fair bloody play to Burnley and Sean Dyche. To be sixth after seven games is one thing. To be sixth despite not having a simple run of fixtures is another entirely.

So, to the future. Having examined the first seven games, what about the next seven? Who has the hardest run of games to come in October and November, and who has the easiest?

Well, look for yourself:

1) West Brom 6.3
2) Manchester United 8.0
3) Liverpool 8.6
4) Huddersfield 8.9
5) Arsenal 9.0
6) Southampton 9.0
7) Bournemouth 9.1
8) Watford 9.1
9) Crystal Palace 10.6
10) Manchester City 10.6
11) Leicester City 10.9
12) Swansea City 10.9
13) Newcastle United 11.0
14) Burnley 11.3
15) Tottenham 11.4
16) Everton 11.6
17) Chelsea 12.0
18) Stoke City 12.3
19) West Ham 12.6
20) Brighton 13.7

We’re about to see what Manchester United are made of…

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