Some Premier League clubs resumed training in small groups this week, with a return to top-flight football seemingly edging closer following the hiatus brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic.
After almost two months on the sidelines, players have finally returned to some form of normality with the hope that the league can be resumed following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson arrived at Melwood on Tuesday, while members of Wolves’ squad – including Conor Coady and Diogo Jota – were seen doing isolated fitness sessions with Manchester United’s players returning to training at Carrington on Wednesday.
Watford are also set to resume on Wednesday, although captain Troy Deeney said he would not take part amid concerns for his son’s health.
And though the plan is to fulfill their remaining fixtures in full, albeit behind closed doors, alternatives are already being discussed should the season not be able to be finished with some 92-matches still to be played.
One such option would be a points-per-game (PPG) system, though that brings with it its own complications as there are two different methods which produce a very slight, but hugely important variation which could be catastrophic for the teams affected.
So with the Premier League not yet announcing what system would be chosen if the season isn’t completed, here are the outcomes using both the simple Points per Game method and the weighted version.
Simple Points per game
How it works:
It’s simple really, you divide points accumulated by the number of games played and work out how many points each team has earned, on average, in each game across the season so far. For example, Aston Villa have 25 points from 28 games; so that’s 25÷28 = 0.89.
This system takes into account when teams have played fewer games to give a fairer reflection of comparative performance across the season.
It does not account for relative home and away form, as the PPG average is worked-out across all games played, meaning it can adversely affect teams that are strong at home while not look at the difficulty of matches still to be played.
1. Liverpool 2.83
2. Manchester City* 2.04
3. Leicester City 1.83
4. Chelsea 1.66
5. Manchester United 1.55
6. Sheffield United 1.54
7. Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.48
17. Watford 0.93
18. AFC Bournemouth 0.93
19. Aston Villa 0.89
20. Norwich City 0.72
Using that system, the top five are unchanged with Liverpool finishing the season as champions ahead of Manchester City – followed by Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester United who would all guarantee Champions League football assuming Manchester City’s ban is upheld.
As for the Europa League places, with one game in hand, Sheffield United overtake Wolves in sixth spot while Arsenal’s only consolation would be overtaking rivals Tottenham to finish eighth.
Like with the top of the table, using the standard Points Per Game system sees the bottom-half standings remain unchanged, meaning Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth would go down.
The real winners here would be Watford and West Ham, who end the season on an identical points tally to the Cherries, but would stay up courtesy of a better goal difference.
Weighted points per game
How it works:
This one’s slightly more confusing as you need to divide points by the number of games played for home and away form separately, then multiply each number by 19 and add them together to create a total points tally.
It takes into account home and away form, rather than a more generalised average for each club’s season, and with so many clubs seemingly valuing the importance of home advantage, a vote for weighted PPG would seem logical.
It does not factor in the strength of teams still to play as some sides have played most of the big six at home (giving them a lower average), whereas others have tough games still to come.
1. Liverpool 107.214
2. Manchester City* 77.852
3. Leicester City 69.214
4. Chelsea 62.971
5. Manchester United 58.447
6. Sheffield United 58.169
7. Wolverhampton Wanderers 56.367
17. AFC Bournemouth 35.73818.
18. West Ham United 35.557
19. Aston Villa 34.979
20. Norwich City 27.957
When factoring home and away form, the top five still remain unchanged meaning Sheffield United still finish above Wolves, though Spurs remain ahead of Arsenal in eighth place.
The biggest talking point using weighted PPG, however, occurs at the bottom of the table as Bournemouth would avoid relegation by just 0.1 point while West Ham would slip into the drop zone on 35.6 points.
Considering all the possible connotations, the nightmare situation for the Premier League, should the season not be able to be completed, would be a vote among top-flight clubs whether to adopt PPG or WPPG; which essentially creates an election for who should stay in the Premier League – Bournemouth or West Ham.
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