ANALYSE THIS: Why Rafael Benitez is wrong to be optimistic

FOOTBALL – A few days ago, Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez declared that his team can win this season’s Premier League despite being 13 points behind leaders Manchester United. The improvement Chelsea needed to make from last season’s 64 points made their chances of lifting the title before the season started remote and nothing has changed. Infostrada’s Head of Analysis Simon Gleave has looked at the figures.

The reality is that Chelsea needed to improve their 2011/2012 points total by at least 21 this season to have any chance of lifting the Premier League trophy. The last nine Premier League titles have all been won by clubs getting 85 points or more and there is no reason to think that this season will need fewer points than that, particularly as a total of 85 would be four fewer than last season as it is. Such a turnaround in points has not happened at all in the Premier League era. The last title winners to increase their points total by so many was Arsenal in 1990/1991 (+21).

To see the full chart of changes in points for all of England’s top flight champions under three points for a win click here.

The only title winning team in the 3-points for a win era to improve by more than 21 points from the previous season was Everton in 1984/1985 when they went from 62 points a season earlier to 90 to win the league title. That is a total of one club in 30 seasons. Furthermore, only four clubs – and none during the Premier League era – have managed to win the league title after finishing outside the top three in the previous season. Chelsea were sixth in 2011/2012 and only the aforementioned Everton (7th in 1983/1984) and Arsenal (6th in 1988/1989) have won the league after finishing so low a season earlier.

So, how are Chelsea doing? The league table may not be representative as the first 16 fixtures are not necessarily equivalent to last season’s first 16. The same goes for the fixture schedules for the other clubs. Moving onto our ISG coefficient (explained here) which looks at the improvement a club is making this season in comparison with the same fixtures last season, Chelsea are currently only a quarter of the way to that conservative target of +21. They will therefore need to take at least 15 points more from their remaining fixtures than they did last season. However, Manchester United have actually improved by a point so far making the current target for Chelsea +26.

 To see the full interactive graphic of the latest ISG coefficients, please click here.

So, where might those 16 to 21 extra points for Chelsea come from?


Assuming Chelsea win every remaining match that they also won last season they can pick up an extra 26 points in comparison to 2011/2012 from here and finish on 95 points. The problem is that they would then need to win every one of their remaining 22 matches. This is clearly unrealistic but, on the other hand, Chelsea don’t need to get 95 points.

It is clear from the graphic above that the next six matches are crucial as 13 extra points in comparison to 2011/2012 can be gained from those. If Chelsea win their next nine matches in the Premier League, the Blues will be 18 points better off than from the same 25 fixtures last season and heading for a total of 82. This will be a start in their quest. Anything much less than this and the task will really be impossible unless both Manchester United and Manchester City unexpectedly implode.


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