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ESPN Luck Index: Liverpool robbed, and Manchester United the luckiest team in the Premier League, study claims

  • Analysing the influence of luck in the 2017-18 Premier League season.
Raghav Mehta
Modified 07 Aug 2018, 19:14 IST

Image result for man utd vs liverpool 2018
Marcus Rashford strikes a shot against Liverpool last season

According to the study, Jurgen Klopp's side dropped 12 points on incorrect decisions related to penalties and red cards last season.

On the other end of the spectrum, it says Manchester United gained six points due to such decisions which went in their favour.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City was still too good for everyone else, finishing on top of the new table formed after the study conducted by ESPN, Intel and the University of Bath, but they wouldn't have been able to reach the coveted 100 point mark.

The other end of the table

The study also calculated that Stoke who went down with just 1 game left to play should have extended their stay in the league at the expense of Huddersfield when 'incorrect' refereeing was taken into account.

Also, Leicester would have finished with £9.7 million less in prize money, finishing 14th instead of 9th, whereas Brighton would have finished with an extra £11.5 million in prizes, swapping places with The Foxes.

How does the Luck Index work?

The various factors taken into account when simulating games based on the luck index were:

#1 Deflected goals.

#2 Goals that should have been disallowed.

#3 Incorrect red card decisions.


#4 Incorrectly disallowed goals.

#5 Incorrectly awarded penalties (that were scored).

#6 Penalties that were not awarded but should have been.

#7 Red card incidents that were missed.

#8 Goals scored after injury time overran.

Once these incidents were picked out, alternative outcomes of matches were calculated, basing itself on an algorithm that also included other factors such as form, team strength and home advantage.

Liverpool v Manchester United - Philippe Coutinho is fouled in the box
Manchester United vs Liverpool

A prominent example of this being Liverpool's 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Anfield on 14 October. The study found out that Jurgen Klopp's Reds should have been awarded a penalty in the 64th minute, resulting in the freshly analyzed scoreline to be 1-0 in Liverpool's favour.

Newly prepared table

New Standings were formed on the basis of the study, and the table at the end of the season stood as follows:

Image result for premier league luck index

More stats

A few other stats calculated by the study were:

#1 Huddersfield's home stadium was the recipient of the highest number of deflected goals - 5, with Huddersfield benefiting from 2.

#2 Matt Ritchie was named the 'luckiest player'. The Newcastle winger was let off the hook for 2 red cards, while a handball incident against Leicester City also went unnoticed by officials.

#3 Leicester City were the kings of the late show - scoring 3 goals after injury time overran, more than any other side in the league.

Image result for leicester city late goals
Leicester City


Thomas Curran, assistant professor from the University of Bath said that the games were simulated thousands of times to model an accurate outcome, he also stated that this project was one of the most detailed pieces of analysis they had conducted so far.

Former Premier League referee Peter Walton also added: "The results demonstrate the impact and importance of refereeing decisions on a game".

Although the actual accuracy of this study is a debate that can rage on forever, with the Premier League deciding to go against the inclusion of VAR for the 2018-19 season, it is certainly interesting to see just how much luck plays in the eventual outcome of each team's Premier League season.

Published 07 Aug 2018, 19:14 IST
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