FT Baseline Graphic: which Premier League clubs are best suited to stronger opponents?

By John Burn-Murdoch and Gavin Jackson

Over a typical Premier League season we would expect any given team to pick up more points per match against weaker opponents than better ones, relative to its own strength.

But based on every result from this and last season, while this pattern is evident at a general scale, different clubs deviate from the norm, and from year to year.

Tottenham Hotspur, for example, picked up very few points against strong opposition in 2013-14, but have risen to the occasion more frequently this term, beating local rivals Arsenal and inflicting one of only two defeats this season on champions Chelsea.

We can also pick out one reason for Manchester City’s struggles in this campaign. Their performance distribution this season is very similar to last, but with one exception: the weakest sides in the league.

Dropped points against Burnley (twice) and Queens Park Rangers account for by far the biggest change.

Familiar narratives are also laid bare: Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea generally perform better against similarly strong sides than do any of the other top clubs. And Chelsea’s consistency is also clear: rarely if ever do they dip below the two points per game mark, helping them to win the title this season.

Liverpool fans’ frustrations with the current campaign also appear justified: Brendan Rodgers’ side have been excellent in places but drawn blanks elsewhere.

Source data: football-data.co.uk