Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A modest proposal from UF

Yes, I know the title may be interpreted otherwise, but this is not Jonathan Swift-style satire.

Instead, this is what happens when I misread Arsene Wenger, mash it up with a Rugby Union rule, spend an hour recalculating the EPL table, then realize what I thought I read was not in fact what I read. I flirted with abandoning the whole idea, but then decided to inflict my madness upon you. So now you're stuck.

The idea germinated from this Spoiler post where Arsene Wenger talks about handing out bonus points for scoring goals. As any of you with reading comprehension skills above mine can plainly make out, Wenger wants to reward teams who demolish other teams with extra points in the table instead of just goal difference. Simply put, a win would still be worth three points, but every goal that a team wins by would also be worth a point. Winning by one goal gets you four points, winning by two gets you five and so on.

Of course, as I have already admitted, this is not how I read it. What I saw was Wenger calling for a bonus point system much like the one in Rugby Union. If I recall correctly, in Rugby Union when a team scores five tries in a match (win, lose or draw), they get a bonus point in the standings. When I skimmed what Arsene had said, I though he was calling for a similar system wherein an EPL club scoring three goals in a match gets gets a bonus point. Of course, I was wrong, but that doesn't mean I stopped working on it.

I was possessed. I went to the BBC website to scour through this season's matches to find out who would benefit the most from such a rule change this year. The somewhat surprising answer--Arsenal.

Yes, Wenger's kids--the ones with all of those nil draws around the New Year--would benefit the most if such a rule were put into play today (with the caveat that I may have missed some results). Arsenal have scored three or more goals nine times this season. Liverpool have netted three or more in eight games and Manchester United have managed the feat in seven matches. At the other end of the spectrum, Stoke City have only scored more that two goals in one match, while Middlesbrough have failed to do so at all this season.

And yes, it does change the table, though in some strange ways. Here is the current table (only useful before this weekend). And here is an ugly look (since Blogger doesn't do tables easily) at how the table would look with the UF BONUS POINT.

Pos. Team (Rank change) points; GD
1. Liverpool (+1) 75; +34
2. Man U (-1) 75; +32
3. Chelsea (0) 70
4. Arsenal (0) 67
5. Everton (+1) 57; +13
6. Aston Villa (-1) 57; +6
7. West Ham (0) 47
8. Man City (+2) 44
9. Fulham (0) 43; +3
10. Wigan (-2) 43; -2
11. Bolton (+1) 43; -9
12. Tottenham (-1) 41
13. Blackburn (+1) 37
14. Stoke (-1) 36; -16
15. Hull (0) 36; -17
16. Portsmouth (0) 35
17. Sunderland (0) 34
18. Newcastle (0) 31
19. Middlesbrough (0) 27; -24
20. West Brom (0) 27; -31

As you can see, the immediate beneficiaries are the so-called Big 4. Arsenal have now opened up a ten point gap on Everton. No need to worry about just trying to hold on to those Champions League spots now as they are pretty secure. Liverpool have also overtaken Man U, but that's just temporary, right?Also, Everton and Aston Villa have solidified their Europa League spots under the new setup. Manchester City have had the biggest jump of two places, but are still well out of any European slots (unless 7th place sneaks in).

At the other end of the table, there is not much change. Of course, these teams don't hit three goals very often, so that is to be expected. The team that is immediately helped is, oddly, bottom dwellers West Brom. WBA have notched three goals on three different occasions this season. Since 19th placed Middlesbrough are the one team that have not done so, the three point gap between the two is erased. Both teams still need some four-pointers to get out of the relegation spots, though.

I see this as an evolutionary addition to football changing from two points for a win to three. Whereas that rule change got rid of teams almost exclusively playing for a draw, this rule change might see an end to overly defensive play where the idea is to get one goal and hold on. Of course, there is still no cure for such play in knockout phases, but we'll work on that.

1 comment:

The NY Kid said...

that baby looks delicious, but I know I would just be hungry again in an hour