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Top Four Check-In - Is #Project18 enough?
I may not do these every week but I imagine that I will be doing these for a good while longer.
This was a weird week because there were only four Premier League matches (plus some midweek makeup matches) and we are still in a weird situation where just four teams with the full 30 matches played, a bunch of teams with 29 matches played, two with 28 matches played, and three with 27 played.
For the top four race both Arsenal and Spurs played twice with Spurs gaining some ground with two wins with Arsenal only getting the one (even if they still had a good performance against Liverpool).
So how do things look after this week's matches:
Arsenal's odds have gone down a bit from last week when they were at about 77%. That isn't really through any fault of their own, they actually picked up a fraction of an expected point (got 3 from 2.5 expected), but instead Tottenham won two matches taking 6 actual points from 3.5 expected points.
Arsenal's matches played were some of their hardest and now they have the 9th hardest remaining schedule. Some of these are going to be massively high leverage but I do think that Arsenal will be in the position for the head-to-head matchups against Manchester United, West Ham, and Spurs that they are must not lose matches rather than carrying the pressure of MUST WIN.
I did run the situation of what would things be like if Arsenal had draws in all three of those matches and it comes out with Arsenal at 68% to finish in the top four spots. Wins would obviously be preferred but just not losing looks like it might be enough (baring collapses in other matches obviously).
Of more concern is that Spurs continue to look like a dangerous team and are still performing slightly better over the course of the season.
The end of West Ham's Champions League Dream?
West Ham really needed to win on Sunday to keep their top 4 dreams alive, instead, they were beaten 3-1.
When things are rounded that puts them at 0% to finish in the top 4 now. There are still a few situations where they get very hot and get 20+ points from their last 8 matches but that is now looking very unlikely for them.
They had a good run and still have the Europa League to focus on (about 8% according to FiveThirtyEight) and I think can say that they put together a solid season that still should have them qualify for one of the European spots.
Is #Project18 enough?
Last week I said this:
The realistic target for Arsenal and the Champions League should be 69 points or better. 69 points isn't a certain guarantee but given what the other teams are facing getting to that level should be enough. Anything more than that and the team will all but certainly be playing on Tuesday and Wednesday nights again.
Unfortunately, I am less certain about that now.
Getting to 69 points is now less than 50% to be good enough for making the Champions League. Getting above 60% now takes 70 points, with real certainty not really kicking in until 73 points at 92%.
So the old #Project18 that started last week probably isn't enough but could still work with that as the target for the final 10 matches. So I guess it is project 18 from here on out again.