We asked the Opta supercomputer to predict how the Premier League pan out in 2023-24 prior to the season and then in September; with eight rounds of games done, we’ve another update on those predictions.
Updated Premier League Predictions: The Quick Hits
Favourites to Finish Bottom: Sheffield United
Favourites for Relegation: Sheffield United, Luton Town, Bournemouth
Ahead of the 2023-24 Premier League season, we got the Opta supercomputer to simulate the campaign 10,000 times to see what it believed might occur.
With action set to resume this weekend after the international break, we thought it was a good opportunity to provide an update; we’ve already covered the title race and top-four battle, and now we’re looking at the relegation scrap.
Before the season started, only Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool managed to avoid relegation in all of the 10,000 simulations. That’s right, all the other 17 clubs were relegated at least once, though it should be noted that seven of those finished in the bottom three less than 0.3% of the time.
With eight matches played, we now have a clearer idea of how all 20 teams are faring and which clubs are looking over their shoulders rather than aiming high. Below you’ll find the percentage probabilities of each team finishing in every position in the latest 10,000 season simulations, followed by our analysis.
Who Will Finish Bottom?
It might feel a little early to be plotting a team’s route down to the Championship, and we certainly aren’t about to suggest any Premier League clubs are without hope. However, the outlook is already pretty bleak for Sheffield United.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side are comfortably the favourites to finish bottom of the Premier League, which is their position ahead of Matchday 9 this weekend. Across the latest 10,000 season simulations, the Blades finished 20th 44.5% of the time; no other club is given more than a 27.1% chance of ending the season bottom.
Since our September predictions update, Sheffield United’s position has only got worse. Back then, they were still among the favourites for relegation, but Luton (29.7%) were considered to be in greater danger of finishing last.
Of course, Sheffield United’s significantly worsened standing with the prediction model isn’t especially surprising. They’ve taken just a single point from their first eight matches since earning promotion from the Championship and already appear in danger of being cut adrift.
They’ve conceded more goals (22) than any other team and have only scored (6) more than Bournemouth (5). Of course, the 8-0 home demolition by Newcastle United last month will be seen as indicative of their plight by many.
That defeat obviously contributed to them facing 176 shots across their first eight games; since the 2003-04 season, only Hull City (184) in 2016-17 have seen more shots rain down on their goal over the opening eight matchdays of a Premier League campaign.
Sheffield United are also one of only six teams ever to amass just one point at this stage of a season; of the past five, Southampton (17th in 1998-99) and Sunderland (14th 2013-14) managed to steer clear of relegation at the end of the season.
Who Else Will Be Relegated?
There are still eight clubs that were relegated in at least 1.0% of the latest simulations, but realistically, we’re probably only looking at Sheffield United and four others as being in genuine danger – at least according to the prediction model.
Of course, there remains a long, long way to go, and we must consider that the model is partially based around historic results (more on that in the explainer at the bottom), so who’s to say a more established club couldn’t go on an uncharacteristic and unprecedented losing streak that drags them into the mire? However, for the time being, we can only go off what the predictor is telling us.
And it’s telling us that Bournemouth, Burnley, Luton Town and Everton are the other four teams most likely to go down. Clearly, this isn’t much of a hot take; they are – along with Sheffield United – the five teams occupying the bottom five spaces, after all.
But it’s interesting how small a chance the prediction model considers it to be that any other team will go down. Of the five we’re talking about, Everton are seen as the least likely to be relegated with their overall probability of finishing 18th, 19th or 20th rated at 21.2%. After them, the next least likely to go down are Nottingham Forest on 5.9%; even Brentford, who are level with Sean Dyche’s side on seven points, only dropped down to the second tier in just over 1.3% of the latest simulations.
Despite sitting just outside the bottom three, Luton Town are deemed to be the second favourites for the drop (74.2%) and finished bottom in 26.2% of simulations. Second-bottom Bournemouth (57.1%), one of only two teams without a win yet this term, are next and then it’s Burnley (47.5%).
Since our mid-September update, Everton’s survival probability has improved quite considerably. They’ve taken six points from four matches, which has made a huge difference in the eyes of the prediction model as their relegation chances were rated at 52.3% just over a month ago. After all, the underlying numbers of their season have been quite positive.
Bournemouth, Burnley, Luton and Sheffield United have all seen their survival hopes decrease, however, with the latter two going from 68.2% and 64.5% probabilities of relegation to 74.2% and 85.0%, respectively.
Opta-Simulated Premier League Table
After simulating the Premier League 2023-24 season 10,000 times following eight games played, we’re able to rank teams positionally. Here’s the Opta supercomputer results from those simulations:
1st: Manchester City
4th: Tottenham Hotspur
5th: Newcastle United
6th: Aston Villa
7th: Brighton & Hove Albion
8th: West Ham United
9th: Manchester United
11th: Crystal Palace
14th: Wolverhampton Wanderers
15th: Nottingham Forest
19th: Luton Town
20th: Sheffield United
How Does the Opta Supercomputer Model Work?
- Opta’s League Prediction model estimates the likelihood of teams finishing in each position in the competition. We can therefore see how successful a team’s season is likely to be, whether it’s their relegation or title chances.
- The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) by using betting market odds and Opta Power Rankings. The odds and rankings are based on historical and recent team performances.
- The model considers the strength of opponents by using these match outcome probabilities and simulates the remaining fixtures in the competition thousands of times. By analysing the outcome of each of these simulations, the model can see how often teams finished in each league position to create our final predictions.