Discover more from Cannon Stats
Back in the saddle again
Getting back into the swing of the Premier League
The World Cup was a lot of fun, that final was one of the best matches of soccer I have ever seen. I saw a joke where they said if watching that final was your first introduction to soccer, you might as well stop because it will never get better than that.
I will be 100 percent honest tho, I am ready to get back to the real main event of Arsenal and the Premier League.
Right back into the fire for Arsenal
For Arsenal, there is no ease back into things happening. Arsenal’s final matches in December and then January are going to be a real test, especially with their transformative signing in Gabriel Jesus out at least into February or March.
This leads to the question of what should we expect as an acceptable return over this run?
Arsenal’s December and January is on paper the hardest schedule of any team in the Premier League (not doing any adjustment for rest here) with an average team rating that is nearly 9% better than the Premier League average.
Looking at the matches Arsenal have it makes sense. Arsenal host West Ham, go to Brighton, host Newcastle, travel the short trip to Tottenham, and wrap things up with Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
These teams are rated 9th, 8th, 5th, 4th, and 6th. That’s a tough run.
Before this run Arsenal were winning 2.64 points per match. Arsenal can match that with 13 points coming from four wins and a draw but that looks pretty optimistic. My simulation model expects Arsenal to win 9.5 points. This to me feels about right, Arsenal will be the favorite in each of these matches but not overwhelmingly so where dropping points is an unforeseen event.
This leads to the question of what would be a good return from these matches?
I would say that at a minimum Arsenal need to earn 9 points and even this might be low and disappointing given the matches against direct rivals. If that nine points came from two wins against West Ham and Brighton and then draws against the last three, that might be palatable but still a bit disappointing. It also feels unreasonably optimistic to want more than say 11 points given the difficulty of the schedule.
So my answer is 10, that is what I would gauge as a success, more than that is a resounding success, less than that is I think will be a disappointment (even if it is through not losing).
Week 17 Odds
It feels like forever since I had run simulations and thought about matchups. I am still out of sorts here but let’s dig into the slate of matches post-Christmas.
Boxing day is full, starting early with Brentford vs Tottenham, which if I am being realistic I am not waking up at 4:30 am for after a holiday, so this may end up as a second-half-only affair. The day really kicks into gear with a nice four-pack (the best amount for matches and beers) of matches at 7am, where I think Leicester vs Newcastle is the pick for my attention, especially with Newcastle looming on the horizon for Arsenal.
The 9:30 match of Aston Villa vs Liverpool will be fun to watch. We will all (at least me) be watching to see if Liverpool have found a way to fix what was ailing them in the first part of the year. They didn’t seem to perform well in the Dubai Super Cup (Which Arsenal won) losing with a pretty full-strength team to Lyon 3 (2.6) - (1.7) 1, but did dominate AC Milan 4 (2.6) - (0.9) 1. They remain a weird team to me, they are obviously talented but have not shown the same ability to dominate and limit what teams can do against them.
Boxing day ends with Arsenal back in action, hosting West Ham. They come in pretty heavy favorites in this one (even with Jesus injured the betting odds have this one roughly the same, the title futures also haven’t moved that much on the basis of the injury news).
West Ham haven’t been as good as they were the last two seasons coming in at 16th place. They are struggling this season in attack but have maintained a good defense (honestly surprised me how good it is).
There will be an instant reaction here following the match so be sure to sign up to read that one.
Cannon Stats is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Tuesday gives us Chelsea vs Bournemouth and Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest. Neither of these are all that enticing on paper, with the big clubs both 70% to win. I will still have this on but I am not expecting too much in the way of unexpected thrills or schadenfreude.
Week 17, end with Leeds hosting Manchester City. Manchester City had their players play the most minutes at the World Cup of any team so it will be something to watch if that has any sort of hangover for their performance. I don’t expect it to be large because they are full of talent but will still be a storyline to watch in what is an overwise not close match.