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This article was published on April 8, 2020

AI predicts results of English Premier League matches canceled by coronavirus

The system threw up a few surprises in its final league table

AI predicts results of English Premier League matches canceled by coronavirus Image by: Jon Candy
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW Writer at Neural by TNW

AI has finally answered the question plaguing every soccer fan’s mind: Where would my team have finished in the league if coronavirus hadn’t wrecked the season?

Boffins from soccer stats firm Opta produced their final English Premier League table by analyzing four years of historic results to predict the likely outcome of each match. And in a huge shock in the title race, Manchester City pipped Liverpool to the trophy by a single point!

Only joking! The Reds were comfortably crowned champions — just like everyone expected — with an estimated probability of 99.9%.

At the other end of the table, there was heartbreak for Bournemouth fans, who finished level on points with Watford but were cruelly relegated on goal difference.

[Read: Should ‘digital dopers’ get banned from sports in the real world too?]

The analytics gurus appear to have overlooked the women’s league thus far, but hopefully still plan to crunch their numbers too.

Opta’s analysis

To separate the winners from the losers, Opta studied the attacking and defensive qualities displayed by each team in the past, with more recent results given extra weight in the calculations.

Analysts then estimated the difficulty of each remaining match, and used goal predictions to guess the results. After running 10,000 simulations of the leftover fixtures, they worked out the probability of every team’s final league position.

As officials debate whether to void the season, honor the current positions, or complete the campaign once the coronavirus is contained, the AI has offered an alternative that should at least please Liverpool fans. But as a deluded Arsenal supporter, I think it’s a terrible idea.

Here’s Opta’s full league table for anyone who cares:

1st: Liverpool – 101 points

2nd: Manchester City – 80 points

3rd: Leicester City – 67 points

4th: Chelsea – 63 points

5th: Manchester United – 61 points

6th: Tottenham Hotspur – 58 points

7th: Wolverhampton Wanderers – 56 points

8th: Arsenal – 56 points

9th: Sheffield United – 55 points

10th: Everton – 50 points

11th: Burnley – 49 points

12th: Crystal Palace – 49 points

13th: Newcastle United – 46 points

14th: Southampton – 44 points

15th: West Ham United – 39 points

16th: Brighton & Hove Albion – 37 points

17th: Watford – 36 points

18th: Bournemouth – 36 points

19th: Aston Villa – 32 points

20th: Norwich City – 29 points

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