The Greatest English Premier League club?

Vinay Acharya defends the Red Devils not just with raw passion but also with some solid numbers.

man-utd-compressed

In terms of EPL club fans, our office has representation for clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Barbs and taunts fly thick and fast, especially on derby days. So we performed some basic analysis to try to answer that ever so contentious question…Which is the greatest Premiership club ever?

We put together a dataset of results and goal statistics for clubs, for the 21 most recent completed seasons of the English Premier League. We left out the first 3 seasons because they had 22 teams each, instead of the 20 teams-38 games norm.

Over these 21 seasons, 45 clubs have played in the English top tier. We included only those clubs that have been there for at least 9 of these seasons. Why 9? Well, we didn’t have the heart to exclude Leicester City, the reigning champions. In the process, we’ve left out many well-known clubs, including 7 that are playing in the current Premier League season. But they are hardly contenders for the title in question!

First-off, we looked at the average season-end position. Manchester United was top of this table, with an average position of 2. Close on their heels were Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and City, ranging between spots 3 and 8. Average number of points per season: The top 4 remained unchanged. City edged Spurs by a paltry 2 points – there’s something about City and close finishes isn’t there? Predictably, it was the same bunch when we looked at the average number of wins per season. The six usual culprits (along with Leeds) had the least average number of draws per season, ranging from 7.7 to 9.6. Seems like the big clubs pull no punches out there. At the other end, we noticed that the 4 clubs with the most number of draws per season, Aston Villa, Toffees, Boro and the Foxes have all been steady mid-table clubs; their average position being in the 10-12 range. Maybe, playing for a draw provides a good risk-return balance for the not-so-ambitious clubs. Apart from the big clubs, Everton and Villa had played in every single EPL season — that’s before Villa got relegated in May.

The trend of Manchester United’s dominance continued. They were the absolute best when considering the averages for other criteria too: least average number of losses per season (6.1), most average number of goals scored (75.1), least average number of goals conceded (34.3), highest average goal difference (40.8), and the highest average number of clean sheets (16.3). Do we have enough evidence to crown the Red Devils as the best Premiership club ever? Well, these numbers point in that direction. But I’m sure rival fans would vociferously disagree with the criteria!

Leave a Reply