Stoke City first team to be relegated and they deserved it

Stoke lost 2-1 today to Crystal Palace making them the first team to be relegated from the Premier League this season. Football can be a cruel mistress and sometimes relegation isn’t deserved but this season Stoke City had the worst defense in the League, conceding 65 goals and 88 Big Chances, and the fourth worst offense in the League scoring just 32 goals and creating a third worst 42 Big Chances. Stoke also had the 2nd worst expected goal difference in the League (using my own formula) meaning that not only were they shipping goals, not creating goals, but their goals for and against record was well deserved.

In the first graphic we sort the League table by points and Stoke are 2nd from the bottom. West Brom won today over Tottenham, given them a small lifeline in their final two matches of the season. Stoke, a team that long prided itself on its defense allowed the most shots (551), the most shots in prime (the area in front of goal from about 12 yards in, 157), the most big chances (88), and as a result, the most goals (65).

The team with the worst expected goals difference is Swansea, though their problem wasn’t defending, it was attack. The Swans only created 35 Big Chances this season and an appalling 84 shots in prime. If they escape relegation it will be a bit lucky to say the least.

Sorting my table by points taken and then displaying the expected goals difference, we see that Southampton, should they get relegated, would be a pretty big shame.

Man U are still clear leaders of the “overperformance index” having allowed 420 shots by their opponents. That number is stark when you see that Man City and Liverpool combined have only allowed 487 shots, 67 shots more than Man U. Saves from de Gea, combined with 6% conversion from outside the box (13 goals, which added an extra 6 goals to their tally) have kept United in the top four this season. It’s unlikely that they will be able to repeat this feat if they play the same way next season.

Palace started the season going 7 matches without a goal and scored just three goals in their first 11 matches. But they were creating chance in that time, 17 big chances in the first 11 matches and scoring just two. Christian Benteke was the main problem, he’s scored just three goals this season and missed 20 big chances. Arsenal supporters should be happy that Wenger never plonked down the money to buy him like many fans wanted a few years back.

Palace really did “revert to mean” this season. From match 12 to today Palace scored 25 big chances on 58 shots, a finishing rate of 43%, which while it still isn’t great, is just two percentage points below League average.

Arsenal boast the worst defense in the top six and their big chances giveaway rate is appalling for a top team. Wenger’s side have conceded 64 big chances this season, that’s the same number as Man City and Chelsea combined. Arsenal also allowed 104 shots in prime which is a number that they should definitely improve on next season when the new manager buys a defensive midfielder or somehow magically gets Xhaka to play a little D.

Burnley could overtake Arsenal for 6th in the table which would make them the most overperforming team in the League. They lead the League in blocked shots and basically play for 1-0 wins all the time. Sean Dyche has done a great job there to get them as far up the table as he has considering how many goals they should concede. But like Leicester before them, and Stoke before them, this model of play eventually leads to relegation and almost never results in a trophy.



  1. Where do you get these stats for the other teams from?

    I wonder if we’ll get flooded by the Orcs today too.

    1. The same guys who verbally abuse Aaron Ramsey for having the temerity to allow his leg to be broken? Let’s show them the class they haven’t got… keep things calm and measured.

  2. Under their previous manager, Tony Pulis, Stoke City were a safe bet to regularly finish around mid-table. They defended well and in numbers, were uncompromising to, and at times beyond, the accepted limits.

    Few outside of their own fans had a good word for them but they stayed in the Premiership.

    Then under the new manager, Mark Hughes, they tried to play a more expansive style and suffered for that ambition. Despite sacking Hughes and appointing Paul Lambert they have been unable to sustain the more open style, nor have they been able to revert to the tougher tactics.

    The result of falling between two stools has inevitably lead to relegation.

    I have to say that I’ll certainly not miss having to watch Arsenal struggle against them, at least for one season.

  3. How I enjoyed reading the news of their relegation, and that the final nail in the coffin was a mistake by Shawcross! They deserve it for their defensive record, and for poetic justice.

  4. I hope they follow Sunderland on a downward spiral, a bottom feeding club despised by all. Good riddance!

  5. Mark Hughes stands on the verge of a unique double. Being partly responsible for the relegations of two teams in one season. Not the double he dreamt of when starting his managerial career. I don’t dislike him enough to wish that on him. It’d finish him as a premier league manager.

  6. Yeah, good to see them drop, hopefully never to be seen again.
    More ironically, MK Dons getting relegated to Div 2 while AFC Wimbledon stay up is a joy to me personally(having spent 30 years in that neighbourhood).

      1. Yes Tim, I simultaneously held season tickets at The Emirates & Kingsmeadow.
        I have to confess to being a bit of a wagon jumper for my AFCW support, as I only started going to see them while they were on the way back and in the Ryman League and continued going to all matches at home & locally until I moved away from London. Really good crowd and I still meet up with them when they come up to play Bristol Rovers.

  7. I lived in Southampton for a few years and supported them while there, but I want them to get relegated. They’ve tortured us over the years, and I want it to end.

  8. Ryan Shawcross delivering the killer blow, what goes around comes around.

  9. Stoke gone down, couldn’t happen to a nicer team.

    Nobody wants to hear about the Atletico game any more, especially when it comes with a refereeing moan, but I can’t resist it. This in the first half against Atletico looks like a clear penalty as the defender leans right out to block Wilshere, and I think the referee bottled it:

    At 2-1 up in the tie it would have been a very interesting game. OK, alright, we would have probably still lost.

    And I’m gutted for Kos. What a way to go out of a European final after so many years putting his body on the line for us.

  10. That’s a clear penalty?
    No Arsenal player thought so and neither do I.

    Look, Arsenal got their “lucky” break when Sime Vrsajilko got his marching orders on 9 minutes and Simeone , who actually does a fair amount of coaching from the touch line, alongside with him in the first leg.

    We can talk about how merited both yellows were but judging from your take on the aforementioned penalty “incident” had they both been issued to an Arsenal player in similar circumstances, we , Arsenal fans , and you for certain would be talking about UEFA being bent and having some sort of vendetta against Wenger and Arsenal.
    Let it go.

    1. “You for certain”? “Let it go”? Why the hostility, Tom, towards a fellow Arsenal supporter who wasn’t arguing with you and just happens to have a different take than you on one incident in a game?

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Wilshere one was a pen (though I’ve seen them given, as the cliche goes), but the two yellow cards were pretty much as clear cut as they get, and the only argument against them would be that many refs in that circumstance would have bottled it and not given the second one for fear of affecting the game too much (in other words, not a very good argument at all). So I don’t think that counts as us “getting lucky”. We got exactly what we deserved in that situation.

      1. If someone told you before the first leg of the Atleti semis that their player would be sent off for two yellows , and Simeone would lose his $hit and his place on the touch line on 9 minutes and for the second leg, you wouldn’t consider that an extremely lucky break?

        If you don’t think there would be droves of Arsenal fans crying foul if an Arsenal player got sent off under similar circumstances than you haven’t been paying attention to our persecution complex I’m afraid.

        In any case, sorry for my “hostility “
        GREG, and PFO.

        And as for the Wilshere pen shout, I haven’t seen them given at this level of competition and I suspect you haven’t either.

  11. Giroud scores again for Chelsea. I miss the big OG more than I do Sanchez. But hey, we still have Welbeck 🙂

  12. Hmmm, just maybe spuds go trophyless and out of top 4.
    Would that be a successful season?
    Arsenal won one to start the season, and still our worst season in years..
    Oh the irony.

    1. That’d be nice. Hoping for a Chelsea win for that reason. Theyre not showing Arsenal Burnley in my part of the world, unfortunately. Bummer.

  13. I thought Iwobi had one of his best games for us in the 5.0 today. Apart from his goal (left foot with power) he made crucial passes in the build ups to our first three and was involved in just about everything we did from central midfield. He has a good shot on either foot, and could really be an asset.
    Maybe there’s life after Santi after all.

    1. Maybe. He needs to do it more than once every 20 games though. I suspect with Iwobi it is a mental thing, which makes it very difficult to solve without a stellar man-manager.

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