The 2019-’20 Premier League season was historic in more ways than one. It was the longest English top-flight campaign in history spanning 353 days, that included a three-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Liverpool, who had won the English First Division title 18 times, finally managed to get their hands on the Premier League trophy, winning the top-flight league after 30 years. The Reds are the seventh team to win the Premier League along with Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, and Leicester City.
Watford and Bournemouth were relegated from the Premier League after both the teams were promoted together five years ago, along with Norwich City who had come up from the Championship last season.
As the dust settles on a dramatic campaign, here is a look at some interesting numbers.
Raising the bar
When Leicester City won the Premier League title in 2015-’16 with a points tally of 81, it was the second-lowest in the past decade. Most of the big teams had poor seasons allowing the Foxes to script a fairytale.
However, the big clubs have pulled up their socks since and have raised the bar quite high. Liverpool and Manchester City have been at the forefront of this improvement with the two teams breaking records for points totals at the end of the season.
Since the 2016-’17 season, the top two in the Premier League have been in a league of their own. This season too, the top two teams had a combined total of 180 points.
Record for top two teams in PL
|Season||Teams in top two||Points of champion team||Points total of top two teams||Gap with third place team|
|2015-'14||Chelsea (C) and Manchester City (R)||87||166||4 points|
|2015-'16||Leicester City (C) and Arsenal (R)||81||152||1 point|
|2016-'17||Chelsea (C) and Tottenham Hotspur (R)||93||179||8 points|
|2017-'18||Manchester City (C) and Mancester United (R)||100||181||4 points|
|2018-'19||Manchester City (C) and Liverpool (R)||98||195||25 points|
|2019-'20||Liverpool (C) and Manchester City (R)||99||180||15 points|
In the last two seasons, the gap between the top two teams and the teams in third and fourth place has increased massively. While the top two have amassed points, the teams chasing the Champions League spots have regressed.
The cut-off point for Champions League qualification in the 2019-’20 campaign was the joint fifth-lowest in the Premier League era. However, the gap between the fourth-placed team and the champions was the second-highest since the 38-game season was introduced.
Champions League cut-off points tally
|Lowest Champions League cut-off points tally||Fourth-placed team||Season|
Gap between fourth-placed team and PL winners
|Gap between fourth place team and champions||Season||Champions||Fourth-placed team|
|27 points||2018-'19||Manchester City||Tottenham|
|25 points||2017-'18||Manchester City||Liverpool|
Faith in youth
In the 2019-’20 season, Premier League sides have shifted focus to the youth, with the season’s starting XIs recording the lowest average age in the last decade.
Average age of Premier League teams
|Seasons||Average age of starting XIs|
Among the clubs, Manchester United have had the youngest team this season with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Aaron Wan-Bissaka getting plenty of game time.
Bournemouth and Everton too have had relatively younger teams along with Chelsea, whose manager Frank Lampard has given chances to academy graduates like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori.
Average age of Premier League teams
Fewer goals scored
The 2019-’20 season saw 38 fewer goals in total compared to the 2018-’19 campaign, which was a Premier League record for most goals scored in a single season. This season’s goal tally ranks ninth among all 38-match Premier League seasons.
Ten most high-scoring Premier League seasons
|Season||Goals Scored||Goals per game|
The number of goals scored in the Premier League has increased in the last decade with only one season (2014-’15) recording less than 1,000 goals. In the previous decade, only five seasons saw the tally reach four figures.
Fewer red cards, more yellow cards
In terms of discipline, the 2019-’20 season was a bit of a mixed bag. The campaign saw the joint third-lowest tally for red cards in 38-match Premier League season history. However, the yellow card count was rather high. The 2019-’20 season was the sixth-worst in that aspect.
This season’s tally of 1,248 yellow cards was only higher than 2016-’17, 2014-’15, 1997-’98, 1998-’99 and 1999-’00 seasons
Discipline record in Premier League
The decrease in red cards in last two seasons can be attributed the change in rules for last man tackles and abolition of the double penalty in case of a foul in the box that leads to a penalty kick.
The other reason perhaps for the decrease in the number of red cards, especially this season, could be due to the drop in the number of tackles.
The 2019-’20 season recorded the lowest tackles per game tally in the last decade. It’s a figure that’s been on the decline since the 2015-’16 season, as per a Sky Sports report.
Paulo Maldini once said: “If I have to make a tackle, then I already made a mistake.” Premier League teams are perhaps following the great Italian.
Tackles per game in last ten PL seasons
|Season||Tackles per game|
More high pressing
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have dominated the last three seasons and the influence of their style of play can be felt across the Premier League. Using two different versions of the high-pressing systems, Klopp and Guardiola have enjoyed plenty of success.
The 2019-’20 campaign has shown that using the high-pressing strategy has become popular with other managers as well, with the instances of teams winning possession upfield increasing this season.
According to a metric called high turnovers, that is defined as passing sequences that start in open play and begin 40m or less from the opponent’s goal, a Sky Sports report has revealed that teams had most number of high turnovers this season, a figure that is highest in the last decade.
How teams have pressed higher in PL
|Season||High turnover index|
The Premier League season also saw the fewest shots attempted from outside the box this season, hinting towards teams adopting a more indirect approach.
In terms of the different formations and systems used, the 4-2-3-1 was the most preferred formation this season. But there was a lot more tactical variety seen in the Premier League as managers opted for different systems more often unlike the last few seasons where 4-2-3-1 was by far the most preferred formation used by teams.
The use of three-man backline has also increased since the 2016-’17 season, being used 128 times, only the second most in a Premier League season, according to the Sky Sports study.
Impact of VAR
The Video Assistant Referee was introduced for the first time in the Premier League this season and a total of 109 goals or incidents were influenced by VAR, according to an ESPN report.
As many as 55 goals were ruled out by the VAR and only 10 were awarded after the referee had decided against giving the goal. The VAR also helped award 22 penalties after the referee had decided against, while it cancelled nine penalties awarded by the on-field referee.
A total of 34 goals in total were ruled out for offside, 14 for handball and 8 goals were awarded after VAR overturned the offside ruling of the linesman. Nine red cards were dished out by VAR, while two overturned.
In terms of teams benefitting from VAR, Brighton and Hove Albion lead the way, according to an ESPN study. Manchester United are a close second in terms of beneficiaries.
VAR drew many controversies this season but it remains work in progress. Next season the Premier League is expected to make a course correction that would see VAR have more admirers than detractors.
Impact of VAR on teams
|Teams||VAR Decisions in favour||VAR Decisions against||Net score|
|Brighton and Hove Albion||10||2||+8|
The Reds will look to knock Manchester United off their perch with a 20th English top-flight title next season, but United’s neighbours might have a big role to play in that battle.
Chelsea and Manchester United have been tipped by many to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League but the numbers suggest that they have a big gap to make up.
More youngsters could come into the fray next campaign that is certain to have no lesser excitement especially with a certain Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United coming back into the mix. Bring on 2020-’21!
(Stats courtesy: Premier League, Sky Sports, ESPN, Transfermarkt and Scroll.in research)