13 October 2009

Points per game: The first eight games

There isn't exactly a definitive conclusion with stats like these. Liverpool improved in six seasons (marginally in two of those), worsened in three, and stayed the same exactly once. Unsurprisingly, eight games don't make a season. We're less than a quarter of the way through the league.

However, there are some fun facets to this data. 2005-06 is especially heartening. Liverpool were dire through the first eight games, with ten points (the lowest total on this list), yet finished with their second highest total in the last 10 years. The results improved by almost a point per game over the last 30 matches. An eight-match win streak from late October until the end of December didn't hurt. But then there's 02-03. After finishing second the season before, the best result in 11 years, Liverpool took 18 points from 24 to start the campaign. Then the team took 46 points from the next 30 games and finished fifth. Only Rick Parry knows why Houllier wasn't fired.

The results were fairly symmetrically distributed too; both the mean and median difference between the PPG after eight games and after the full season was +0.155/game. If Liverpool improves by that amount this season, they'd average 2.03 points per game, totaling around 77 points. We'll see how close that number ends up being. It certainly wouldn't be good enough.

15 points from eight games isn't what was expected or hoped for from this team. It's not title-winning form, that's for sure. But it should go without saying that a lot can and will happen over the next seven months. Part of the reason these eight results have been so disappointing is we know Liverpool's capable of better – no matter the personnel changes. Chances are this team will show it, and with 30 games left, there's still time.

Yet I can't help but focus on the fact that four Liverpool teams have bettered 15 points over the first eight games in the last 10 years. They finished 2nd, 2nd, 4th, and 5th.

The numbers in full:
2009-10 after eight games: 15 points (5w-0d-3l) - 1.875 points/game

After Eight: 20 points (6-2-0) - 2.5/game
Final Record: 86; 2nd (25-11-2) - 2.263/game
Difference: -0.237/game

After Eight: 16 points (4-4-0) - 2.0/ game
Final Record: 76; 4th (21-13-4) - 2.0/game
Difference: 0.0/game

After Eight: 11 points (3-2-3) - 1.375/game
Final Record: 68; 3rd (20-8-10) - 1.789/game
Difference: +0.414/game

After Eight: 10 points (2-4-2) - 1.25/game
Final Record: 82; 3rd (25-7-6) - 2.158/game
Difference: +0.908/game

After Eight: 13 points (4-1-3) - 1.625/game
Final Record: 58; 5th (17-7-14) - 1.526/game
Difference: -0.099/game

After Eight: 11 points (3-2-3) - 1.375/game
Final Record: 60; 4th (16-12-10) - 1.579/game
Difference: +0.204/game

After Eight: 18 points (5-3-0) - 2.25/game
Final Record: 64; 5th (18-10-10) - 1.684/game
Difference: -0.566/game

After Eight: 16 points (5-1-2) - 2.0/game
Final Record: 80; 2nd (24-8-6) - 2.105/game
Difference: +0.105/game

After Eight: 12 points (3-3-2) - 1.5/game
Final Record: 69; 3rd (20-9-9) - 1.816/game
Difference: +0.316/game

After Eight: 10 points (3-1-4) - 1.25/game
Final Record: 67; 4th (19-10-9) - 1.763/game
Difference: +0.513/game


epiblast said...

So with Liverpool's 15 points at this point, we would expect to do better through the remainder of the season?

Mike Georger said...

After the Chelsea game some pundit kept pointing out that this is exactly where United were at this point last season.

Am I reaching for straws? Hell yes, but f it.

McrRed said...

Lovin your work, Nate!
this is a really fresh way of looking at the stats...even if it can't tell us what we want to know (that this number of points will guarantee us the League come next May!!!).

Still, as Mike says, it's more than possible to win the league from this position. We just need to be ruthless. From manager to least-used substitute...oh, and perhaps a bit of luck along the way.

Still, keep on believing. Why? because you might as well, and it's more fun that way! ;-)