Out Of Our League
Stoke one game away from being Alternative Premier League Champions!
Despite the entire of Europe (and the Americas) being engrossed in this Summer’s Championships, I invite you to take a trip back to our beloved Premier League and witness the unbelievable drama that would have taken place should the FA have decided to tweak how the league table works. I’m a big fan, as most of us fans are, of an unexpected underdog win. However, I feel these wins are not sufficiently rewarded when it comes down to the nitty gritty when the season ends. Well, what if a team in bad form conquers a team in good form? Let’s see how this Alternative Premier League takes place.
Football plays itself as normal; however I have taken the results from each day of fixtures and, rather than allocate points, introduce the following scenarios to the league table:
|Club A v Club B
|Club A higher than Club B
|Club B higher than Club A
|Club A Win
|League positions remain
|Club A swap with Club B
|League positions remain
|League positions remain
|Club B Win
|Club B swap with Club A
|League positions remain
For example, if Stoke (sitting in 9th) beat West Ham (sitting in 4th), Stoke will go to 4th and West Ham will go 9th. However, should Stoke have instead drawn or lost to West Ham, their league positions will stay the same.
Fixtures were analysed day by day rather than by Gameweeks 1-38, as going further in a competition regularly means a games get postponed and it’s hard to determine which game belongs to which gameweek. The initial league table is determined based off the previous year’s table, with relegated clubs being replaced with promoted clubs (Championship champions to 18th, runners up to 19th, play off winners to 20th).
I know what you may be thinking: “won’t the change in rules affect a club’s mentality to winning a game, or holding out for a draw?”. Well by taking the real life fixtures from last season, clubs will maintain the same mentality as previously and, in most cases, will want to win the game. However this league means a club who sit 20th can swap with the current league leaders should they beat them on a fortunate match day, it adds a whole new realm of excitement and long term uncertainty!
Here is the initial table. Last year’s Champions Chelsea sit pretty at the top, meanwhile Championship winners Bournemouth replace Hull, runner up Watford replace Burnley and play off winners Norwich replace QPR. Stoke sit comfortably in 9th after an impressive 2014/25 campaign. I shall reveal the league standings at the end of each calendar month, however a day-by-day progression of the league can be found to download in a link at the bottom of the article. Here we go!
The first month in the league threw up some interesting surprises. The biggest of which sees Crystal Palace sit in second after their win against Chelsea towards the end of the month. Stoke failed to win a game which saw them increase in position and dropped to 13th. An in form Leicester saw them sneak into third after beating West Ham. However they switched into 6th after beating Liverpool, this saw them crash into the relegation zone, despite losing just two games! Although there’s plenty of time for the league to throw up some more surprises and some bigger twists in fate.
Three games for Stoke means that they remain in 13th place, the their first league win of the season against Bournemouth wasn’t enough to propel them any higher in the league, however the loss to Arsenal also had no effect as the Gunners managed to fling themselves into third after beating Leicester. West Ham top the pile after their win against Man City and Liverpool clamber their way out of relegation by switching with Aston Villa. Winless Sunderland continues to prop up the rest of the league. Watford rocketed their way up the league after a win against Swansea.
Stoke remain in 13th yet again as they are unable to snatch a win against in form opposition. Watford find themselves top of the tree after a win against West Ham on the final day in October. Liverpool’s dismal fate was handed to Chelsea who find themselves in 17th following a run of bad form. Leicester’s phenomenal form begins to bear fruit as they slide into the Champions League places with a win over Crystal Palace, whose fairytale is over for the time being. West Brom continue to hang around in ninth spot since the win over Stoke back in August.
Leicester take their rightful place at the top after dislodging in form Watford. West Brom catapult into third place with that win over Arsenal at the Emirates, putting the Gunners in a respectively lowly ninth. Stoke’s 1-0 win against Southampton mean they float up to 11th place. Liverpool’s reward for beating Man City was taking their Europa League place.
Liverpool, who saw themselves in the relegation places at the start of the season, were one of the only sides to be able to beat Leicester and are rewarded with being league leaders going into 2016; Leicester meanwhile find themselves dangerously close to relegation. Stoke’s dramatic 4-3 over Everton just after Christmas means that they find themselves in second place, with teams such as Everton, Newcastle and Spurs all occupying this position before losing out during the busy fixture list. West Brom lost to Bournemouth and found themselves in a more familiar position in eighth. Bournemouth did hold third spot for a while, but a loss to Arsenal saw those sides switch. Manchester United lost to Bournemouth and Norwich, meaning they end up being one place away from the drop zone. Man City and Chelsea are still finding it difficult to move out of the mid table places.
Stoke immediately surrendered their lofty position and drop to eighth after another loss against West Brom. The Baggies eventually lost their spot to Southampton after a defeat there. Aston Villa fly to safety and send Crystal Palace to the bottom of the league, this was the beginning of the Eagles’ winless 2016 form. West Ham, once of Europa League positions, find themselves in relegation with Newcastle going top for two games; they swapped with Watford after that game towards the end of January. Chelsea’s win over Arsenal send them into the Champions League places. Leicester trade fortunes with Spurs with regaining their winning form.
Stoke remain in mid-table with a win against Bournemouth, after finding themselves in 15th with the 3-0 hammering against Everton. Spurs save themselves and end Watford’s party with the two sides trading positions. Man United initially slipped to 17th after losing to Sunderland, but beat Arsenal to give their peril to the Gunners. Sunderland’s Man United result saw them in 4th temporarily but lost to West Ham, who see normality return. Crystal Palace stay bottom due to not being able to pick up a win. Newcastle climb to 12th after beating West Brom, but the Baggies saved themselves after sending Everton into relegation.
Stoke slip to 14th after the 2-1 home loss to Southampton. Norwich soar into the fifth after responding to their relegation threat by beating West Brom, who finally find themselves out of the top half of the table. Villa find themselves in peril again after switching with Everton. The Manchester derby means that United and City sit in 7th and 8th respectively. Bournemouth shoot their way into the skies with a win against Southampton. However the Saints regain some ground with a win against Liverpool who are now mid table. West Ham, who were in the bottom three just two months ago, are now topping the table. Chelsea’s unbeaten manager Guus Hiddink sees his side remain in second place.
Stoke’s torrid form during April ended with very little consequences as they hold 14th position. West Ham remain in pole position as a reward for being unbeaten. Newcastle find themselves in second with a in win over in form Swansea. Newcastle’s appointment of Rafa Benitez works wonders as they snatch second place. Crystal Palace finally managed to get a win and were somehow rewarded with a Europa League place. Norwich’s bad form played a part in Palace’s success as the Canaries crash to the bottom of the league. Chelsea finally lose under Hiddink and lost to Swansea, but as mentioned earlier, Swansea sunk to 12th with their loss to Newcastle.
Stoke end up upturning their form and fortunes and sneak into 8th spot on the final day of the season. Stoke would have won the league had West Ham not lost to Swansea, however the Swans claimed West Ham’s place and hang on to become Premier League champions. Newcastle’s sensational form under Rafa sees them remain in second. Man United’s loss to Norwich saw them bottom of the league for a long period of time, but saved themselves dramatically on the final day by beating Bournemouth and condemning them to the drop instead. Everton did burst Norwich’s bubble slightly by claiming their fifth place spot but will not be displeased with finishing away from the drop. West Ham, who thought they may have been Champions slipped to 14th with their loss to Stoke. Arsenal couldn’t buy themselves a useful win as they finished 13th.
In terms of the difference between the APL and the regular Premier League, Stoke did improve by one position and end all ridicule that they can only finish ninth. Newcastle had the biggest change in fortune by climbing sixteen places, meanwhile Man United came worse off after dropping an almighty twelve places, Arsenal not far behind with eleven. So Swansea, Newcastle, Southampton and Spurs all play Champions League football, Everton, Leicester and Crystal Palace all play Europa League next term, while Bournemouth, Aston Villa and West Brom (after being in the top half for so long), face playing in the second tier.
If there’s any wacky ideas for new League rules, new football rules or anything surreal in general you’d like us to analyse, do let us know. We are a bit bored over here, after all.
APL Progression for your (guilty) pleasure: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1fWkCVXbbLGZ2wzbnpPNi00dEE/view?usp=sharing
Written by Ben Rowley
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