Although data and statistics have never been used so much in football, the unpredictable nature of the sport is what makes it so incredible. But this hasn’t stopped people trying to predict, with certainty, what will exactly happen in each game, and some of the brightest minds in football have now joined forces to produce a detailed “script” of how the 2019/20 campaign will unfold.
Led by BT Sport, the “biggest brains in sports data” from Opta, Google and Squakwa have attempted to “write the world’s first artificial intelligence-driven script for a future Premier League season”.
Using historical data from thousands of games to come up with each team’s strengths and weaknesses, they have predicted the result of every game (despite VAR being introduced to the Premier League next season, which is sure to affect some results) – so this, apparently, is how next season will pan out..
Well, you don’t need a complex prediction model to forecast that Manchester City and Liverpool will make up the top two next May, but the system suggests that City will win the league for a third straight season, collecting 94 points and lose just two games all season. They will beat Liverpool by six points, with the Reds spending the entire season in the top three and going a third straight campaign unbeaten at home.
Chelsea will spend seven weeks at the top of the league but become the eighth different team not to win the Premier League after being top at Christmas. They will finish fourth, behind Tottenham Hotspur who will be third.
Once again, the ‘big six’ make up the top six places, but once again, it is Arsenal and Manchester United who will miss out on the Champions League, each by just one-point because of their form against teams they will have been expected to beat.
The relegation battle will see Aston Villa as the only newly promoted team to survive, with Sheffield United finishing bottom, one place below Norwich City, which will make The Canaries the most relegated team in Premier League history, with nine relegations since 1992.
Newcastle are the other team to go down, beaten to safety by Burnley on goal difference. Villa will end the season in 15th after a strong finish but will be in the bottom three at Christmas.
So, to conclude, there is nothing much in this scientific and complex prediction model from these football brains that comes as a surprise. For many years, commentators have been quoted as saying, ‘you simply couldn’t write it’, well perhaps that is starting to change.
But surely, the introduction of VAR into the Premier League this season, as well as the winter break and some fine tweaks to the rules will continue to keep football what it should be, entirely unpredictable.
Let’s check back in May and see how accurate or not this model was.