According to sportingintelligence, we have the sixth hardest starting schedule in the league for the first 7 matches. And it’s not like today wasn’t already a downer!
From Brian Sears:
Within an objective ‘tough rating’ system, the lower the rating, the harder the start. Liverpool have the lowest rating at 41, followed by Southampton at 44, while at the other end of the spectrum, Swansea’s rating is 87, and West Ham’s is 78.
To arrive at the ‘tough rating’, we simply added the finishing positions of last year’s Premier League teams (1 to 17), and then rated Reading at 18 (automatic Championship promotion in first place), Southampton at 19 (second) and West Ham at 20 (play-offs).
I won’t lift their chart, so be sure to go check it out. If you need reminding what our opening matches are: Norwich (home), United (away), West Ham (away), WBA (home), Wigan (away), City (home). That gives us a “tough rating” of 60, 1 better than Arsenal in 7th, and 6 less than Stoke and QPR who are both tied for 4th. But even with that data aside, our opening set is against two big guns, one bogey team, and two matches that could really go either way. Eesh.
If at first glance this season seems harder than last season, it is (although this season has one less game in their sample size). Last year we were tied with City for third easiest opening set. And we didn’t win until the 7th game. But data and expectations can often deceive. Which is why last season I maintained that it’s easier for anyone to play their equals at home and our unequals away. Playing your equals away is difficult; playing your unequals away is playing with house money: you lose, oh well; you win; GRAVY! and although their data proved otherwise, check this: our matches away to Wolves, Newcastle, and WBA that ended with just 1 point gained and 1 goal scored. These reverse fixtures saw 6 points (really should have been 9) and 11 goals scored.
Nonetheless, unless we are undefeated, today’s Dempsey situation won’t help our outlook come October. But it was probably going to be a dreary one anyway.
Unrelated thoughts: how ’bout that website redesign? Love it!