As we move out of March and into the “beginning of the end” of the Premier League season, it is routine to analyze the fixtures to assess possibilities.
Using the CHIP adds another lens to add focus. Below is a team-by-team view of what is to come for those competing for the top four places. It also presumes that Arsenal and Manchester City are in.
You will also notice that Fulham, Chelsea, and Aston Villa are not in this analysis. They are by no means mathematically out of the chase but they are a minimum of 10 points back with 11 matches to be played and six solid teams that will continue accruing points between them and the prize of fourth place.
For this analysis, I have taken the EPL rank of each team’s remaining opponents and divided that sum by the number of opponents to get an average EPL rank of the remaining teams. I have then done the same thing using the CHIP rank. So each team has two opponent rankings that can be benchmarked against each other and the other team’s metrics.
Manchester United (3rd EPL, 50 points)
EPL opposition rank = 10.67
CHIP opposition rank = 10.50
Man Utd has 12 EPL games remaining and at least three matches in various cups. Save, potentially, a currently unscheduled match against Brighton, the Red Devils have a front-loaded schedule for their final run in with their next two matches against Newcastle and Brentford and a match against Tottenham six matches before the end of the season.
Three of their last four are against West Ham, Wolverhampton, and Bournemouth. Those matches may be highly contested by both squads for either end of the EPL table.
Tottenham (4th, 49)
EPL opposition rank = 10.00
CHIP opposition rank = 9.20
The Spurs have the fewest matches remaining but the stiffest level of competition of the squads competing for Champions League football according to the CHIP. They have ‘six-pointers’ with all five of the other squads pushing for the top four and those matches are sprinkled throughout their remaining schedule.
Tottenham has the most control over whether they end up as one of the final two of the four. That said, their current ranking has been built on having played weaker teams, and that is why they are only seventh on the CHIP table. They have much yet to prove.
Newcastle United (5th, 47)
EPL opposition rank = 10.67
CHIP opposition rank = 10.08
Newcastle’s remaining 12 fixtures are exactly the same difficulty level from an EPL ranking perspective as Man United but the CHIP ranking is slightly tougher. Our Magpies also have a TBD date with Brighton and our schedule is also relatively front-loaded with matches against Man Utd, Brentford, and Tottenham as three of our next five.
One major difference is that we have a match still to play against Arsenal. Both Man Utd and Tottenham are done playing Arsenal and Man City.
Liverpool (6th, 42)
EPL opposition rank = 10.83
CHIP opposition rank = 10.67
As with everything else about Liverpool’s season, they may have the most bi-polar remaining 13 matches. Two of their next three are against Man City and Arsenal. They also have remaining matches against teams currently ranked 16th, 17th, 18th, and 20th.
Not only are they sixth in the EPL but they rank sixth on the CHIP table.
Brighton (7th, 42)
EPL opposition rank = 9.77
CHIP opposition rank = 9.77
Coincidentally, the Seagulls' strength of opponent is the exact same for EPL and CHIP and it is the third most difficult schedule of these six combatants. They have 13 remaining matches as well as an FA Cup semi-final. They are up against each of the teams in this list except Liverpool. They also have matches still to play against both Arsenal and Man City.
As with any of these teams, they could get on a roll but there is also every reason to believe that they are more likely playing for Europa places when they go up against Villa on the last Sunday. They are only ninth on the CHIP table.
Brentford (8th, 42)
EPL opposition rank = 8.64
CHIP opposition rank = 9.55
The Bees' final 11 matches rank as the hardest remaining schedule of these six. They are up against each of the other five in this list as well as an end-of-season tilt against Man City. Brentford could yet be the biggest surprise as they are ranked fifth on the CHIP table.
Injuries, accumulated cards, recent manager changes, scoring hot streaks (here is looking at you Isak), etc... as well as the standard ebbs and flow of team momentum will undoubtedly all have a major influence on the final standings. But squads have a fairly set personality by this stage of the season.
One thing for certain: as a Newcastle fan, it is exciting and refreshing to once again be focused on this end of the table.