With ten games left in the Premier League both the top six and bottom three are starting to look a little clearer. Leicester and QPR are effectively gone while the Special One seems to have brought Chelsea back to the summit. At the top Man City are still holding out vague hope that Chelsea will slip up and Liverpool are pushing Man United for that coveted “Arsenal” spot.
At the bottom Burnley are are hoping Triple H can pull them out of the relegation zone, while Dick Advocaat will be hoping he won’t be hearing the updated version of “he’s short, he’s round, he’s gonnae get the sack, Advocaat.”
The Positive Panic Factor Effect
The Positive Panic Factor is that teams get an average of 0.022 more points than they did in the previous 30 games over the last five seasons because of the threat of relegation hanging over them, with last season having the best positive increase of 0.1 of a point largely thanks to the Swansea and Palace turnarounds. The magic of Tony Pulis and Gary Monk most likely. What other superpowers are contained in those baseball caps?
From here to the end of the season you’re going to be hearing that the big teams have the added pressure of going to the teams fighting to stay up. It’s complete rubbish. Look at the average. 0.022 of a point extra a game is so minuscule it hardly makes a difference. Of course there’s pressure, but none more than when the sides met earlier in the season.
Spurs travel to Villa on the 11th of April. They won the first fixture in November 2-1 and there was pressure then. Both sides were in roughly the same positions in November as they are now, but there was no added pressure then. Going to the smaller teams can always be tricky for the top teams because they of a bad record (Liverpool Crystal Palace), take it too easy or because, to be honest, no one likes Hull.
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Should Top 6 be fearful?
No. They have no reason to believe that the teams that are in the bottom five or six positions will magically become better as the season draws to an end. People in Sky Sports are simply bigging up games that the greater population finds as enjoyable as a slow episode of Cash in the Attic. Hoping that people will tune in to watch as “Spurs face a difficult away task to Burnley who are fighting for everything at the foot of the table” when in reality the game is no trickier than when Spurs won 2-1 in December.
Manchester United are still pushing for a top four place while Aston Villa are three points above the relegation zone. The sides meet on Saturday and Sky will be all about the pressure on United and that the fear of going down will make Villa a tough task for Van Gaal’s men. But the pressure is the same as it was in December. The Positive Panic Fear Factor’s return is so low that there’s no case for added pressure. Both sides were in the same position in December as they are now and the pressure was still there.
There will always be comebacks that leave fans astounded and neutrals delighted when the underdogs and minnows of the Premier League beat the big teams, but they really are the exception to the rule. Once every couple of years a team will grind out points to survive or will totally transform under the influence of a new manager – Roberto Martinez’s smile really does pull the cat out of the bag.
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