ESPN Luck Index Powered by Intel Reveals Unluckiest Premier League Team in 2017/18 Season

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The ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel has revealed, among many other findings, that Liverpool FC were the unluckiest team in the 2017-18 Premier League season. The research project, designed and carried out by ESPN, Intel and experts at the University of Bath, set out to discover how the Premier League would look if adjusted for luck.

Using a sophisticated predictive model which crunched hundreds of data points, the ESPN Luck Index powered by 8th Generation Intel® Core™ and Optane™ memory devices found that Liverpool were the unluckiest team in the league, missing out on 12 additional points across the season. Top-four rivals Manchester United were the luckiest team in the league, earning six added points from incidents in their favour.

As a result, the two sides would have swapped places in the table, with Liverpool on 87 points and United on 75.

A research team working in collaboration with former Premier League referee Peter Walton analysed footage from every game of the season to see which major incidents – such as disallowed goals, incorrectly awarded penalties, improper red cards, deflected goals etc. – should have been overturned.

The full results of ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel can be seen online at ESPN.com/luckindex and on the ESPN app.

At the other end of the table, the research revealed that, but for bad luck, Stoke would be starting the 2018-19 season in the Premier League. Bad luck cost the Potters four points, which would have put them level with Huddersfield and sent the Terriers down on goal difference.

The ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel also demonstrates the considerable financial impact of favourable or unfavourable decisions, with prize money for Premier League clubs increasing by nearly two million pounds for each place in the table.

Brighton ranked as one of the unluckiest teams. With adjustment for luck, their first season in the Premier League would have ended six positions higher (ninth in the table) and with £11,587,608 in additional prize money. Conversely, Leicester would have finished 14th (instead of ninth), with £9,656,340 less in prize money.

Arsenal suffered away from home in the 2017-18 season, going without an away win in 2018 until the final day of the season. However, theESPN Luck Index powered by Intel found that bad luck cost the Gunners 11 away points (though luck also earned them three points at home). Overall, Arsenal would have secured eight additional points, leapfrogging London rivals Chelsea into fifth place, whose points total didn’t change.

Only five teams in the league would maintain their position in the table when it is adjusted based on the ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel:

  • Manchester City remain champions, but don’t break the 100-point barrier, with the model predicting they would finish on 97 points;
  • Tottenham Hotspur stay in third and on 77 points;
  • Burnley remain in seventh, but the analysis showed they were the second luckiest team, and would have finished with four fewer points;
  • Crystal Palace would maintain their 11th place finish;
  • West Brom would still have propped up the league in 20th, albeit with 33 points instead of 31.

How the 2017-18 Premier League table should look – ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel:

Original PositionOriginal PtsTeamLuck Index PositionPosition changePoints AdjustmentAdjusted Final Points
1100Man City10-397
475Liverpool22+1287
377Tottenham30077
281Man United4-2-675
663Arsenal51+871
570Chelsea6-1070
754Burnley70-450
1044Newcastle82+448
1540Brighton96+646
849Everton10-2-544
1144Crystal Palace110-242
1342West Ham121-141
1441Watford131041
947Leicester14-5-740
1736Southampton152+440
1244Bournemouth16-4-638
1933Stoke172+437
1637Huddersfield18-2037
1833Swansea19-1+134
2031West Brom200+233

Full results and methodological details for the ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel, conducted in collaboration with the University Bath, will be available on ESPN.co.uk.

Commenting on the research, Sam Lyon, Lead Editor of ESPN.co.uk, said: “Fans love debating the controversial incidents that went for or against their team throughout the season. The ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel offers a unique insight into the fine margins that can alter the course of a single game and an entire season. It shows that the clichés of ‘the table doesn’t lie’, and ‘luck evens itself out over the season’ aren’t always true, and puts some teams’ performances in a new light.”

Assistant Professor Thomas Curran, University of Bath, said: “The ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel analysed more than 150 incidents throughout the season, and used data ranging from recent form and team strength to game state and home advantage. Then we simulated each game thousands of times to model how it should have turned out – it is one of the most detailed pieces of research we have ever conducted.”

Former Premier League referee Peter Walton, who oversaw the research, added: “The results of the ESPN Luck Index powered by Intel demonstrate the impact and importance of refereeing decisions on a game. With the Premier League deciding not to introduce VAR for the coming season, it is interesting to see how much luck plays a part in the way the league unfolds.”

Scott Gillingham, UK esports & Gaming Lead, Intel said; “Technology is becoming more valuable than ever in the sports industry and as we can see in the ESPN Luck Index, we can evaluate the difference between being the luckiest vs the unluckiest teams in the Premier League. With the Index’s sophisticated formula, run on Intel’s most powerful processors, Bath University was able to quickly and efficiently evaluate vast amounts of data to reveal the results announced today. Using 8th Gen Intel® Core™ and Optane™ memory, the Index has proven the impact of decisions from last season’s Premier League and just how different it would have ended up.”

ESPN.co.uk delivers fans in the UK multi-sport news, coverage and video – from football, cricket, rugby, and Formula 1 to golf, boxing, tennis, the best of US sports and more. The site’s London-based editorial team delivers coverage for UK fans, leveraging ESPN’s global reach and sports news organization, featuring an unmatched collection of journalists covering every major sport around the world.

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