The three themes of this blog are football, data visualistion and complaining; complaining specifically about how monotonous the Premier League can be. Leicester City’s success this season has blown that monotony to smithereens so I have updated three old visualisations to illustrate them (the smithereens).
1. Teams that haven’t recently won the title don’t win the title any more… until Leicester did
Back in June 2011 I moaned that the premier league is only won by teams that have won it recently. In this chart an arc links back to when each champion last won the title. For a new winner the arc is of infinite size i.e. a straight line.
- Leicester are the first new champions since Nottingham Forest in 1978.
- The wait of 38 seasons for a new champion is by far the longest in the history of the top flight. The next longest gaps were just 7 seasons: between Huddersfield and Arsenal, Chelsea and Ipswich and Ipswich and Leeds.
- Leicester are only the third new champion since the 1960s: Derby being the other along with Forest. The three clubs are from cities in bordering, landlocked counties in the East Midlands.
- Leicester are the first team to win their first title while being managed by someone other than Brian Clough since Leeds in 1969.
- Leicester are the first Premier League winner not to have won the Football League First Division.
- Leicester are only the third team to win the title in the past 20 without recent experience of having won it: the other two are Chelsea and Manchester City who both did so only with extraordinary amounts of financial backing.
2. Teams that have recently played in the second tier don’t win the title any more… until Leicester did
Back in December 2011 I sobbed that there is a glass ceiling for teams that have been recently promoted. This chart maps out the league positions achieved by teams in the three season after they were promoted to the top flight. A selection of high-achievers are highlighted.
- Leicester are the first team to win the title within three seasons of being promoted since Blackburn in 1994-95.
- Leicester are the first team to win the title within two seasons of being promoted since Leeds in 91-92.
- Leicester are only the second team to win the title within two season of promotion since Nottingham Forest in 77-78.
- Leicester are the first team to finish in the top four within three seasons of being promoted since Newcastle in 95-96.
- Leicester are the first team to finish in the top three within two season of being promoted since Nottingham Forest in 94/95.
- Leicester are only the fourth team to finish in the top six within three years of promotion in twenty years, along with Newcastle in 11-12, Blackburn in 02-03 and Ipswich 00-01.
3. Teams that haven’t recently come close to winning the title don’t win the title any more… until Leicester did
Back in August 2013 I sulked that too often a team ends the season in more or less the same place they ended the previous one. This chart counts up how often teams have moved between particular league positions from one season to the next; the darker the square the more times a team has finished in those positions consecutively.
That lonely 1 sitting on the top row far from anything else is Leicester City’s remarkable 2015-16 season. Looking the top flight since it settled on 20 teams in 1995-96:
- No team has won the title having finished lower than 3rd the season before… until Leicester who jumped from 14th to 1st. That’s an improvement of the record by 11 places.
- Leicester are only the second team to finish in the top 2 having finished outside the top 4 in the season before: the other was Liverpool in 2013-14.
- Leicester are the first team to finish in the top 3 having finished lower than 7th the season before.
- Leicester are only the third team to finish in the top 5 having finished outside the top 12 in the season before: the others being Ipswich in 00-01 and Everton in 04-05.
Even if a team like Leicester had finished fourth in the table I would still have written a post similar to this one declaring how unprecedented and far-fetched it was. But they haven’t finished fourth, they’ve finished top with two games to spare. Looking at it another way, even if a team like Everton, Swansea, Southampton or Stoke had won the league I would still have written a post similar to this one declaring how unprecedented and far-fetched it was. But it wasn’t one of those utterly unfancied underdogs, it was Leicester, who nine months ago were in a seemingly far weaker position.
A couple of months ago I heard a commentator claim that “at the start of the season everybody said Leicester couldn’t win the title”. That statement is complete nonsense. Nobody said Leicester couldn’t win the title because nobody gave the idea a moment’s thought. Here’s hoping that Leicester’s success marks the beginning of the end of the Premier League’s era of extreme repetition and twenty years from now it doesn’t prove to be as much of an anomaly as it feels today.