Premier League Bundesliga Serie A and more We predict the champions

One of the most important roles that advanced stats can play in sports conversation is helping us to understand what’s real and what isn’t. Luck and randomness play such a large part of a given outcome — especially in the two sports I write the most about, college football and soccer — and over short periods of time, both your eyes and the scoreboard can lie to you. With that in mind, I wanted to see which statistics are particularly predictive from one sample to another, and which stats from one season translate pretty well when looking ahead to the next. This sport is blurry compared to even a tricky sport like American football — at least football has stoppages and specialized 11-man units for offense, defense and special teams. But looking at what actually appears predictive and sustainable allows us to break things into compartments, key factors of sorts.- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U. S. only)- Predict results in ESPN’s English Soccer Pick ‘Em!- ESPN+ viewer’s guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and moreIn my soccer writing over the past few months, I’ve randomly talked about how certain stats are predictive of success moving forward, because either they are stable quality measures, or proof that success in certain areas leaves you vulnerable to regression to the mean. As the 2020-21 season gets underway, I wanted to further explore what these stats can tell us moving forward. Here’s how I’ve found myself grouping them:Now let’s get specific and put these stats to action. What can they tell us about the (extraordinarily long) season that just unfolded? What can they tell us about what’s to come? We’ll use the Premier League as our guinea pig before picking a champion in each of Europe’s big five leagues. Jump to: Premier League | Spanish La Liga | German Bundesliga | Italian Serie A | French Ligue 1Below are last year’s Premier League teams, plus the three teams promoted from the Championship. (We don’t have second-tier data from every major country, but I’ll share it where applicable. ) For teams that underwent noteworthy personnel changes within a given year, I noted both their full-season stats and their stats after said change. Some immediate takeaways from the table above:- While Manchester United undoubtedly improved after adding Bruno Fernandes at the end of the January transfer window, XG differential paints a conflicting picture. How much of that improvement was real and will carry through over a long period of time?- Chelsea had a bit of a defensive problem last year, but you didn’t need fancy math to know that.- Leicester’s overall stat profile backed up their top-five status even if it’s impossible to separate their late-year loss of form from the big picture.- After Jose Mourinho took over, Tottenham Hotspur improved to what amounts to a third-place pace — 1. 73 points per match, almost identical to what United and Chelsea produced while qualifying for the Champions League.

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