It’s been a while since we looked at the Corresponding Fixtures Table and a lot has happened in the Premier League since. Last week saw two sets of games as midweek fixtures were played keeping in mind the weekend’s FA Cup commitments.
While Arsenal moved to the quarter finals of the oldest football tournament in the world by defeating Liverpool at the Emirates, exactly a week before, Liverpool tore Arsenal apart at Anfield- recording an emphatic 5-1 win in the process. They were 4-0 up by 20 minutes, in a game which saw Liverpool at their attacking best. Constantly exploiting the space between the Gunners’ midfield and defence, Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling ran rings around the Arsenal side. While this game brought into focus the improvements made by Brendan Rodgers’ side over the past 12 months, their next game- a 3-2 win at Fulham-also exposed what can be considered a chink in their armour- their defensive instability.
With Kolo Toure at the heart of the defence, a tragicomic error is never faraway and as we saw in the games at West Brom and Craven Cottage, the Ivorian is prone to lapses of concentration which have the cost the team dear on some occasions. Despite these lapses, Liverpool have moved into 4th place in the Premier League with 53 points-just 4 points behind league leaders Chelsea. While Liverpool’s stated aim has been to finish in the Champions League places, they are in with a genuine chance to win the title. Add to that their elimination from the FA Cup which means they only have the Premier League to focus on as other title contenders contend with European exertions.
Keeping the title talk aside, our Corresponding Fixtures Table shows how much Liverpool have improved this season compared to the last season. As has already been mentioned in this series of articles, for the purpose of uniformity we are comparing Hull City’s fixtures to Reading; Crystal Palace’s fixtures to QPR; and Cardiff City’s fixtures to Wigan.
Here is the table
Liverpool have displaced Southampton at the top of our Corresponding Points Difference with a differential of +17. By any means, this is a remarkable achievement and Liverpool are one of the few sides in the league who have improved both their home and away point tallies(statistically) this season. They have especially been devastating at home, taking 34 points from a possible 39. Only Chelsea(35 from 13 games) have a better record. Even Manchester City are a point behind Liverpool with 33 points but they have a played a game less. Let us now look at the Corresponding Home Fixtures Table to further illustrate this point.
Liverpool are the most improved home side taking 13 points more from their home fixtures this season vis-a-vis the last season. From the table we can see that barring Tottenham and Manchester United, every top-half team has fared better at home this season which makes upcoming games between them all the more important. Liverpool, in fact, face Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham at home in the coming months.
Even if they end up taking the same number of points as last season from the rest of the fixtures- they should take more considering their form- Liverpool will end up with 78 points– a points tally that should see them comfortably finish in 3rd of 4th place.
West Brom in trouble
In sheer contrast, as we can see from the Corresponding Home Fixtures table, West Brom occupy the bottom of the pile. While their recent results have seen them take creditable draws at home against Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton, they have dropped points against lesser opposition like Norwich and Crystal Palace. This, more or less, sums up their predicament, as does the Corresponding Home Points difference of -14- the lowest in the league. Their last win at home was against Newcastle on New Year’s day.
They are not doing well on their travels too as we can see from the Corresponding Away Fixtures table.
Quite startlingly, West Brom have recorded only one away win this season: at Old Trafford in September. Incidentally, Manchester United are the only side below them in our Corresponding Away Fixtures Table.
Their next two games against Fulham and Sunderland are quintessential relegation six-pointers. Results in those games may go a long way in deciding whether they survive the dreaded drop.