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Tim W
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The top and bottom of it: Chelsea can falter, Man City are out of it, West Ham down

By Brian Sears

2 November 2010

There are only a dozen miles separating Stamford Bridge from Upton Park but already a chasm of 19 points has opened up between Chelsea and West Ham in the Premier League with 10 games played. Chelsea have 25 points to West Ham’s six.

But what does this mean to their respective chances of winning the title and avoiding relegation?

West Ham are already twice as likely to get relegated, statistically, than Chelsea are to win the title. How so? Statistical history argues Chelsea have a 33.3 per cent chance of winning the title based on their start, while West Ham have a 66.6 per cent chance of going down.

First Chelsea; only nine other teams in the 18-season history of the Premier League have equalled or bettered the 25 points that Chelsea have got from 10 games. But only three of those sides have gone on to be champions. (Full details in the table below).

So Chelsea’s title chances on that measurement are 33.33 per cent. We can debate at length why so many strong pace-setters have faded away, but six of nine who’ve started as well as Chelsea this season rocketed ahead only to turn to damp squibs.

Indeed in 1994-95, Newcastle led with 26 points from the first 10 games but sank to sixth by the end of the season, 17 points behind champions Blackburn. Four seasons ago it was Chelsea themselves who had gained 25 points from the first 10 games (they trailed Manchester United on goal difference) but ended the season six points behind United.

One statistical trend supports Chelsea’s case for the title: only four times in 18 seasons has a side with fewer than 21 points from the first 10 games gone on to win the league, and Chelsea’s closest challengers, Arsenal and United, can only boast 20 each at the moment.

No side with fewer than 18 points at this stage has ever gone on to win the title; statistical history says Manchester City, on 17 points now, won’t win the title.

As for West Ham’s relegation prospects – they aren’t doomed yet but things look far from rosy.

In 18 previous Premier League seasons, 27 teams have reached the 10-game mark with six points or fewer, and 18 of them have subsequently been relegated. Extrapolated, that means there is a 66.6 per cent chance West Ham will go down.

The worst ever haul from 10 opening games was by Manchester City in 1995-95, when they won two points from 30 and went down.

West Ham will look for inspiration to the nine clubs who have survived after such a poor start (details in the table below). Southampton (three times), Blackburn (twice), Everton, Derby, Bolton and Tottenham (two seasons ago) have all recovered from six or few points after 10 games to survive.

But West Ham’s return is their poorest even from 10 opening games; their previous lowest tally was seven.

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