Fixture Analyzer: Manchester United are the favorites to win Premier League 2014-15 title

English Premier League Fixture Schedule is one of the key factors of any team’s performance. There are patches of easy and tough fixtures for every team. In this article, we will identify these patches for the top 5 contenders of Premier League (Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United) using the Exclusive In-House PFR (Progressive Fixture Ranking) Methodology.

Our methodology shows Manchester united have the easiest fixture scheduling making them the top favourites to lift Premier league for the 21st time in their history and 1st time under their new manger Louis Van Gaal. Current premier league holders Manchester city are second Favorites for the title followed by Chelsea and Arsenal.

Following is the list of the teams from easier to tougher fixture flow along with their difficulty scores:

Fixture Difficulty Scores
Last Season Finish Club Difficulty Score
7 Manchester United 34.88
1 Manchester City 35.12
3 Chelsea 40.31
4 Arsenal 41.00
2 Liverpool 42.85
Assumptions:
  1. Based on recent performances in Champions League, we have assumed the following teams to progress till the level mentioned alongside:
    1. Arsenal – Quarter Finals
    2. Chelsea – Semi Finals
    3. Liverpool – Group Stage
    4. Manchester City – Round of 16
  2. Fixture Difficulty adjustment due to FA Cup games and League Cup games is not done because of unpredictable results and possible fixture rescheduling.
  3. For tight fixtures (with 4 or less days between 2 games) amongst Premier League games, difficulty level adjustment is not done. This is because of the fact that all the Premier League teams face the same difficulty and it gets adjusted.
Manchester United - Guinness International Champions Cup 2014 Winners
Manchester United – Guinness International Champions Cup 2014 Winners

Clearly, Manchester United has an advantage in terms of the fixtures. With lack of European Football matches, they will definitely have an additional edge in the Premier League over the title rivals. With no European games to play, they are the favorites to win the Premier League 2014-15 title.

Check out your favorite clubs’ fixture difficulty in detail below. Let us begin with the defending champions,

 
Manchester City – Quite easy a ride near the finish line:
 
Manchester City - Premier League 2013-14 Winners
Manchester City – Premier League 2013-14 Winners
  • Early duels with title contenders: In the first ten games, Manchester City faces Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United. Though it seems like a tough one for them, 4  out of 5 of these games are at Etihad Stadium (Only Arsenal is an away game) where they are very strong. They could actually leverage this advantage and gain more points from all these title contenders.
  • Psychological set back: In the last week of November and the first week of December, City faces Southampton (A) (Never won in the last 5 years) and Sunderland (A) (Never won in the last 5 years). With a bad record against these teams, it will be a difficult period for City psychologically.
  • Christmas period is cakewalk: Remaining period in December is quite a easy run since they are having very easy fixtures (Everton(H), Leicester (A), Crystal Palace (H), West Brom (A) and Burnley (H).
  • Easier towards the Finish Line: Beginning March, almost all the games of City are easy ones. Hence, at the end of the season Manuel Pellegrini’s Citizens are expected to gain more momentum. Even if they were playing in FA Cup and Champions League at that time, it wouldn’t impact too much.
Manchester City 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Manchester City 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Manchester City 2014-15 Fixtures
Manchester City 2014-15 Fixtures

Legend

Liverpool – Tough start and Tougher end:
 
Liverpool - all geared up for the new season
Liverpool – all geared up for the new season
  • Hard beginning: Liverpool begins their campaign against Southampton (H) (Lost last season), Manchester City (A) (Never won in last 5 seasons), Tottenham (A) (Won only once in last 5 seasons) and Aston Villa (H) (Never won in the last 3 seasons).
  • Boxing day brings hope: From boxing day till February end, Liverpool have easy fixtures. This is the time, Brendan Rodger’s Reds should accumulate maximum number of points pretty easily.
  • Tougher towards the title chase: From March, the fixtures of Liverpool gets tougher and Liverpool’s fight for the title will only be fruitful if they get past this period unscathed.
Liverpool 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Liverpool 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Liverpool 2014-15 Fixtures
Liverpool 2014-15 Fixtures

Legend

Chelsea – Highly scattered difficult fixtures:
 
Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis
Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis
  • Easy Start: Jose Mourinho’s side begins the season with easy fixtures, though for just a month against Burnley (A), Leicester (H) and Swansea (H). This helps in the team gelling without much pressure from opponents.
  • Turbulence after the easy beginning: Chelsea’s toughest fixture patch is from September-Mid till November-Mid where they face Everton (A), Manchester City (A), Arsenal (H), Manchester United (A) and Liverpool (A). But one of the key aspects to consider here is that Chelsea has a very good record against all these sides which helped in easing the difficulty level psychologically.
  • Time to mount Title Challenge – Mid-February to Mid-April: Chelsea has their easiest fixture patch (Everton (H), Burnley(H), Leicester (A), West Ham (A), Southampton (H), Hull (A), Stoke (H) and QPR (A)) from February to Mid-April. That’s the time, Chelsea has to be extra cautious and bag all the points to push their way through to the title.
  • Rocky closer to Finish Line: Chelsea face Manchester United (H), Arsenal (A), Liverpool (H) and West Brom (A) post Mid-April till end of season amidst the crucial Champions League games. This is a tough time and Chelsea has a high possibility to lose a lot of points here.
Chelsea 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Chelsea 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Chelsea 2014-15 Fixtures
Chelsea 2014-15 Fixtures

Legend

Arsenal – For a change, March should help them this time:
 
Alexis Sanchez - Second Largest Transfer Signing for Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez – Second Largest Transfer Signing for Arsenal
  • Tough fixtures before Christmas: Arsenal faces United (H), West Brom (A), Southampton (H), Stoke (A) and Liverpool (A) before Christmas. This occurring in November is a caution note because it is one of the months they generally lose lot of points.
  • Critical January-February transition: Manchester City (A) (Never won in last 3 seasons), Aston Villa (H) (2 wins in 4 seasons) and Tottenham (A) (1 win in last 5 seasons) are sure going to make it a tough ride for Arsene Wenger’s kids between January-end and February-start.
  • February uplifts Gunners: Starting February, Arsenal is having an easier game run with Leicester (H), Crystal Palace (A), Everton (H), QPR (A), West Ham (H), Newcastle (A) and Burnley (A). February and March are usually their toughest months in Premier League. But this season, it might prove otherwise.
Arsenal 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Arsenal 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Arsenal 2014-15 Fixtures
Arsenal 2014-15 Fixtures

Legend

Manchester United – Red Devils have it all easy till March:
 
Louis van Gaal enjoys an easy fixture in his first season at Old Trafford
Louis van Gaal enjoys an easy fixture in his first season at Old Trafford
  • Louis Van Gaal handed a easy beginning: In the first 8 games, Manchester United faces Swansea (H), Sunderland (A), Burnley (A), QPR (H), Leicester (A), West Ham (H), Everton (H) and West Brom (A). This is like the dream opening fixtures for any manager. He can experiment with the formations a bit and make the team gel together during this period without getting much affected. By the end of 8 games, if United is not in the top of the table, there is certainly a deep crisis in Old Trafford.
  • November Blues: Within October end to November end, United has a rough ride against Chelsea (H), cross-town rivals Manchester City (A) and Arsenal (A). Though it’s a tough spell, it is short-lived.
  • Small Blip around the turn of New Year: Red Devils will face a relatively tough fixture around the year end by facing Newcastle (H), Tottenham (A) (3 draws in 4 seasons), Stoke (A) and Southampton (H) owing to their poor performance against these teams last season.
  • Easy streak of 7: From Mid-January to March-Beginning, United have a run of easy fixtures again with QPR (A), Leicester (H), West Ham (A), Burnley (H), Swansea (A), Sunderland (H) and Newcastle (A). At the start of March, if United are not leading the table, they would have made winning the title a lot tougher themselves. So, this period is crucial for their title hunt.
  • March and April are full of intense battles: If facing Tottenham (H), Liverpool (A), Manchester City (H), Chelsea (A) and Everton (A) within a short period is daunting, Red Devils have to be prepared to face that tiring task. At the moment, they should only be happier that they have not qualified for European Competitions this year.
Manchester United 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Manchester United 2014-15 Difficulty Level Graph
Manchester United 2014-15 Fixtures
Manchester United 2014-15 Fixtures

Legend

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