The 2018-2019 Premier League title race between Manchester City and Liverpool was the best two-team race in league history. Both teams finished just short of 100 points, with City taking the title and Liverpool becoming the team with the most points as a runner-up in league history. And if advanced metrics are any indication, these two teams could be set to dominate the Premier League again in 2019-2020
Expected goals dominance
Advanced metrics are taking football by storm, as technology is allowing for these numbers to tell the story of each match in a way that the final score cannot. Even common statistics like possession and shots taken fail to illustrate which team is more dangerous in a game. Expected goals has become an especially popular advanced metric, as it shines a light on which teams are creating the most dangerous chances.
Some may dismiss expected goals and other advanced metrics, preferring to look at the total number of points a team collects in a season. But those who truly know the game can attest to this data as a true barometer of a team’s ability. In looking at last season’s performances in the Premier League, the expected goals calculation confirmed the standing of the top two teams in the table.
City and Liverpool finished at the top of the table and would have ended up in the same positions according to their expected goal totals for the year relative to their opponents in each match. They both exceeded their point totals based on expected goals for the season, but that is to be expected, given that these teams possess the best finishers in the league in Mo Salah and Sergio Aguero.
According to the point tallies generated by expected goals, City and Liverpool still would have each finished over 10 points clear of third-place Chelsea. That speaks to just how dominant the two squads were in 2018-2019. And the upcoming season doesn’t look like it is going to be much different in terms of City and Liverpool being a clear cut above the rest of the league.
When it comes to the 2019-2020 season, City and Liverpool appear poised to grace the top two spots in the Premier League table once again. The biggest reason for that is their continuity relative to the other top teams in the Premier League. Outside of Vincent Kompany’s departure from City to join Anderlecht as player-manager, both teams will line up similarly to the way they did last season.
Compare that continuity to some of the roster fluctuations elsewhere among the top six clubs. Eden Hazard’s departure will hurt Chelsea. Arsenal will be trying to integrate Nicolas Pepe into the squad. Tottenham haven’t been able to rely on Harry Kane to stay healthy. And Manchester United and the very-expensive Paul Pogba haven’t been able to see eye-to-eye. Those instances of instability will help the top two, at least in the early portion of the season.
Determining which of these two sides will come out on top is difficult, given that they have played three straight tight games since the start of last season. The last of those games was the season-opening Community Shield match, which saw City beat Liverpool on penalties. If that match was any indication of things to come, the 2019-2020 Premier League season will be another competitive one between these two teams.
There are two big questions heading into the 2019-2020 Premier League campaign. The first is whether or not a third team can join City and Liverpool at the top level of the Premier League. And the second is whether it will be Manchester City or Liverpool lifting the Premier League trophy at the end of the campaign. And with both teams eyeing the Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup as well, there is the potential for these two elite rivals to clash in their quest to stack up as many trophies as possible.