If you’re the kind of person who reads my site, I’m sure you probably also listen to The Anfield Wrap. To my mind it’s the best Liverpool podcast in a very crowded marketplace, but I’m not writing this piece to sing it’s praises particularly.
Since the end of last season, Anfield Wrap host Neil Atkinson has been asking contributors to the podcast if they would take Liverpool getting eighty-four points in 2014/15 if they could, to match the tally they posted last season.
As you’d expect, there’s been a mixture of responses. Some people wouldn’t accept the offer as they feel the Reds are capable of winning more points than that. Others would take it, as it would surely guarantee another season of Champions League football at the very least.
Personally, I would take eighty-four points, and here’s why.
The below table shows how many points have been required to finish first in the Premier League in the last sixteen seasons. I have chosen this period of time as it covers all of the World Cups since the top flight went down to twenty teams in 1995/96.
Although I’ve included the amount of points that the winners got, I’ve sorted the seasons by ‘second place plus one point’, as that would’ve been enough to take the trophy. The seasons directly following a World Cup are in bold.
We can see that eighty-four points has been enough to win the Premier League in the last four campaigns that have followed a World Cup, and three of the fivest lowest tallies required have occurred after such a summer too.
Clearly four seasons is a small sample, and this occurrence may just be a coincidence. But my assumption is that as the stronger teams have more players away at the World Cup, they are then more tired in the seasons directly afterwards.
The following table certainly suggests that the league’s weaker teams generally perform better after a World Cup too; is this because more (or maybe all) of their players have had a nice relaxing summer?
Again, there may be nothing much in this beyond a coincidence. The data I have compiled certainly implies though that fewer points are required to win the league when following a World Cup tournament, perhaps in part because the weaker teams appear to be stronger than they otherwise usually are.
So this is why I would definitely accept Neil Atkinson’s offer of eight-four points in 2014/15. Recent history tells us that Liverpool would probably win the league; which of us wouldn’t accept that offer?