At the top, Manchester City had 47 points -- three points ahead of Liverpool, who were three points ahead of Chelsea. Chelsea had to make up six points on City and leapfrog Liverpool, but they'd had success against both sides in recent seasons, and just a couple positive results would've been enough to make up the gap. With those three sides presumably fighting for first, the rest of the Big Six was left to fend for the fourth and final Champions League place. Arsenal and Tottenham were tied on 35 points, with Manchester United one back on 34.
While the table promised a frenetic multifront fight for the two most valuable spots in the table, it didn't quite turn out that way. Liverpool and City pushed each other all the way until the final whistle of the final game and ended up one point apart, but Chelsea finished a full 18 points back of second. The fight for fourth ended up the same way: Spurs topped Arsenal by two points, and United finished sixth, 11 points back of fifth.
If only there were a way to see this coming -- well, there was, and there is. Nineteen games into the season, the best predictor of future results isn't current points. No, it's expected goals. And halfway through last season, City and Liverpool had xG differentials in the plus-35 range, while Chelsea were down at plus-19. As for the battle for fourth, Arsenal and Spurs were both right around plus-5, while United were down at minus-1.5. There were clear gaps in underlying performance between these teams, and over the second half of last season, that finally showed up in the results. It doesn't always happen, but it's more likely than not.
Now that we've reached the halfway point of the current season, who might improve and who might decline? Let's take a look.
All stats via Stats Perform