EPL

Premier League top-four race: Stats Perform AI predicts fate of Liverpool and Leicester City

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

Manchester City are champions, Manchester United will come second, and Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham will be relegated. We know that.

And yet, there is so much to play for on the Premier League's final day.

Chelsea's win over Leicester City has put them in the driving seat to come third, while Liverpool's late-season resurgence means they are back in a Champions League spot, something that seemed implausible just weeks ago.

However, with Leicester behind only on goal difference and just a point separating third from fifth, it could all change depending on Sunday's results.

While they cannot now break into the top five, West Ham, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and Leeds United are also vying to finish as high as they can – and clinch a place in next season's Europa League or Europa Conference League.

With so much at stake, it's difficult to predict exactly how things will play out, but that's exactly what the AI team at Stats Perform has done.

 

HOW IT WORKS

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model - with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

So, who will be celebrating on Sunday?

LIVERPOOL HOLD FIRM AS FOXES FALTER

Our model predicts the Premier League season will finish with a top four of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea side are given a strong chance – 55 per cent – of finishing in third place. They need to match the result of Liverpool and Leicester to be certain, and they face an Aston Villa side who are guaranteed to finish 11th.

Liverpool are also set to have a reason to celebrate at the end of a troubled season. The Reds are given a 48.6 per cent chance of finishing fourth, which they will almost certainly do if they defeat Crystal Palace at Anfield. They could still snatch third, of course, if Chelsea do not win, and are given a 40.3 per cent chance of doing that.

Leicester City are given just a 20.4 per cent chance of taking back a top-four spot and only a 4.7 per cent hope of coming third. In fact, our model gives them a 74.9 per cent chance of finishing in fifth place. Assuming there is no shock on Merseyside, Leicester must beat Tottenham handsomely to leapfrog Liverpool, as they trail by four goals in goal difference.

 

WILL SPURS OR ARSENAL FINISH HIGHER?

West Ham have an 88.1 per cent chance of sealing sixth place to sign off an impressive season. They need only avoid defeat at home to Southampton to make sure.

As for bragging rights in north London, things are a little tighter.

Tottenham, whose chances of pipping the Hammers to sixth are rated lower than one in 10, have a 36.4 per cent chance of finishing seventh. However, they face the tough task of going to Leicester and taking all three points to be certain.

Arsenal, who are on a four-game winning run, are given a 38.6 per cent chance of clambering above Spurs on the final day, with Mikel Arteta's men hosting Brighton and Hove Albion knowing a win could lift them up two places in the table, given Everton must go to Manchester City.

The Toffees and Leeds United are poised to round out the top 10.

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    United have held further talks with Borussia Dortmund in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho, says Fabrizio Romano. Dortmund reportedly want £81million (€95m), though United are currently unwilling to pay more than £60m (€70m). Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked previously.

    - Romano also reports Gianluigi Donnarumma's contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2026 has been agreed. The Italy international goalkeeper is set to join PSG on a free transfer following the end of his Milan deal.

    - According to Corriere dello Sport, Milan are in talks to sign Real Madrid pair Brahim Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola on loan. The Rossoneri have also been linked with Luka Jovic and are seemingly poised to secure the permanent signing of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea as well.

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