ESPN Study Reveals ‘Luckiest’ and ‘Unluckiest’ Premier League Teams During 2017/18 Season

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Liverpool were the unluckiest team in the Premier League last season, according to a study undertaken by ESPN.

The sports outlet joined up with Intel and the University of Bath in an effort to find out what the league table would have looked like if every decision made by officials had been correct. 

The research also concluded that Manchester United were the luckiest team, with six points being accrued due to certain incidents going in their favour.

Conversely, the Reds were stripped of 12 points as a result of wrongly disallowed goals and other poor decisions regarding penalties and red cards.

Jurgen Klopp and his troops still wouldn’t have won the league title even if all decisions had gone their way, mind you. They still would have finished ten points adrift of Manchester City, who would have only lost three points from the 100 they garnered over the course of their remarkable campaign.

More interestingly, the study revealed that Huddersfield should have been relegated and not Stoke City, while Brighton were due a higher spot on the table and should have made an extra £11.5m in prize money from a ninth-place finish.

Leicester City, who did finish ninth, would have been placed in the 14th spot.

The research team came upon their findings by collaborating with former Premier League referee Peter Walton to watch every single game from last season and looking out for goals that should have been disallowed, incorrectly disallowed goals and incorrectly awarded penalties (that were scored).

They also noted penalties that were not awarded but should have been, incorrect red card decisions, red card incidents that were missed, goals scored after injury time overran and deflected goals.

Alternative outcomes were then predicted using a model which used factors such as team strength, form and home advantage, and a simulated table was then drawn up based on the results.

Over 150 incidents were discovered in the process, an example being Liverpool’s goalless draw with United at Anfield on October 14. The study claims the home side should have been awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute en route to a 1-0 win.

The study also discovered that Leicester scored three goals – more than any other team – after injury time overran. 

Meanwhile, Huddersfield’s home stadium saw the most deflected goals (five), with two going in their favour.

Matt Ritchie was also branded the luckiest player after avoiding two red cards and handling the ball in the box in a match against Leicester without it being noticed by the officials.

“The results demonstrate the impact and importance of refereeing decisions on a game,” Walton said. “With the Premier League deciding not to introduce VAR for the coming season, it is interesting to see how much luck plays a part in the way the league unfolds.”

University of Bath assistant professor Thomas Curran revealed that the matches were simulated “thousands of times to model how it should have turned out.”

He added that the project was “one of the most detailed pieces of research we have ever conducted”.

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