While the league table is ultimately all that matters at the end of the season, it only reflects the state of play after all 90 minutes have elapsed in each match and not the game states that have occurred beforehand.
To see if it was selling some teams short – or perhaps flattering others – we’ve studied the different game states by adding up how much time each club has spent winning, drawing and losing in league matches this season.
We’ve also done the same for individual players to identify who has been each club’s lucky charm this season.
Unsurprisingly, Manchester City have spent over half their time on the pitch in a winning position and barely any time behind, but what we weren’t expecting was to find that Leicester have fared slightly better than Arsenal overall. While the Foxes have spent a slightly smaller proportion of their time in the lead, this is cancelled out by having endured fewer minutes in a losing position.
Everton’s dire campaign is also easy to spot: only 18% of their playing time has been spent in the lead while over 37% has seen them trailing, which is the joint-highest in the top flight.
The player enjoying the best season so far in terms of game states is Manchester City’s David Silva, who has been on a winning side for more than 60% of his playing minutes. New Liverpool signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has also been a lucky charm for his side this season, as has Antonio Rudiger at Chelsea as both teams battle for a top-four finish.
Another summer capture – Timothy Fosu-Mensah at Crystal Palace – has had far worse luck, having spent almost half of his time on the pitch in a losing position.
They may be having a disappointing campaign, but Real Madrid have spent the largest share of time in La Liga with the scoreline in their favour. Even neighbours Atletico have a more favourable balance of time spent winning versus losing than runaway leaders Barcelona, who have regularly had to come from behind this season.
This season has been a lot less fun for the likes of Levante, with just 6% of their time spent winning, and a Las Palmas side that has spent over 40% of theirs in a losing position.
No prizes for guessing that Bayern Munich top the German charts for game states: they have spent over half their time in the lead and just 10% of it trailing. Dortmund are their nearest challengers, but not by much as both Frankfurt and Schalke join them in having led for over a third of their minutes on the pitch.
Hannover matches have often been tense this season, with the scores level almost two-thirds of the time.
Juventus have looked comfortable this season despite being challenged more closely for the title than in recent years, with almost 56% of their time spent winning compared to around 7% losing. Napoli are the ones giving them a run for their money here, just as in the league table, with both some way ahead of Roma and Lazio.
Meanwhile it has been a tough season for fans of SPAL and Benevento, who have both been leading for under 10% of their time on the pitch and trailing for almost half of it.
The balance of power in France is also clearly visible here, with PSG dominating and the trio of Lyon, Monaco and Marseille trailing in their wake. Despite their immense resources though, the Parisians aren’t any more comfortable than some of their peers in the other top leagues when comparing game states.
Interestingly the fifth and sixth-placed clubs – Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes and Montpellier – have spent an unusually large share of time drawing, suggesting they have been prevailing in a lot of close games.
Finally we have turned our attention to the Belgian top flight, where the surprise is that third-placed Anderlecht – who are regulars on the European stage – have spent more time losing than winning this season. Their slender goal difference compared to the teams around them bears testament to this, and a similar pattern can be found in matches involving fifth-placed Genk.
Another of the nation’s big names – Standard Liege – are also raising eyebrows as the only team we have looked at who have spent over two-thirds of their time with the scores level.
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