Arsenal fans have had a pretty dismal season so far, with the club languishing in mid-table as manager Unai Emery was sacked and supporters fell out with stars like Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka. But is it all their own fault?
ESPN and the team led by Dr. Thomas Curran, at the London School of Economics, compile the Luck Index to examine how the Premier League would be if luck were not a factor through this season. And the ESPN Luck Index suggests it could be a very different look for the Gunners if events hadn’t turned against them.
Indeed, luck has cost Arsenal NINE points this season! That sends them shooting up from 10th in the table to fifth, only outside the Champions League places by a goal difference of +1 to Chelsea.
The officials were sleeping when Watford’s Tom Cleverley encroached on a short goal-kick, which forced the defence into an error and led to a goal. The Luck Index says that draw should have been an Arsenal win.
What if Arsenal had been given a penalty for a foul on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Sheffield United with the score at 0-0? That turned a 1-0 defeat into an Arsenal victory. And they were robbed of a winner at home to Crystal Palace by a horrendous VAR decision, which ruled out Sokratis‘ late goal.
Most recently, if Chelsea’s Jorginho had been sent off for a second yellow-card offence when Arsenal were in front then the Gunners would have gone on to win the game to give new boss Mikel Arteta some festive cheer on his home debut.
Arteta will certainly hope the club’s luck evens itself out over the course of the season.
The only team that comes close in terms of bad luck are Watford, who are catapulted up the table 10 places from 19th to NINTH, with relegation fears a thing of the past.
The Hornets claim seven points, including a win at home to Crystal Palace after Troy Deeney was denied a penalty having been dragged down by Gary Cahill, and they also get a win at Southampton after VAR missed a handball in the build-up to Danny Ings‘ equaliser.
Manchester United are given three additional points, but drop a place to fifth as Arsenal overtake them. Wolves also gain three points but are unchanged in seventh due to the Gunners’ surge, while Tottenham drop a point and slide two places.
Spare a thought for Bournemouth, who may sit in the relegation zone now but would be four places and three points better off without bad luck.
How about the top of the table? The Champions League places remain unaltered, although Liverpool drop two points due to Sadio Mane‘s fortunate penalty award in the last minute at home to Leicester. In third, Manchester City also drop two points and Chelsea stay on 36 points.
The luckiest team are Brighton & Hove Albion — who are docked a mammoth seven points to send them tumbling from 14th to 19th and four points from safety. Perhaps the most high-profile decision to go in their favour came against Everton, where they were losing before a terrible VAR decision gave them a penalty and the game was turned on its head for a 3-2 win.
Crystal Palace are six points and six places worse off, sending them tumbling into 15th with just a two-point buffer to the relegation zone, while Sheffield United have also enjoyed their share of the luck, worth four points and two places.
How will luck affect the table at the end of the season? Will it save a team like Brighton from the drop into the Championship? Watch this space.