Thursday 21 September 2017

Question nobody asked - How important is goal difference?

Aidan O'Hara

Aidan O'Hara

With three games remaining, there is still a chance that goal difference could play a role at both ends of the table, although history suggests that points and goal difference tallies tend to go hand in hand. Everton's feat of finishing fourth with a -1 goal difference in 2005 remains more the exception than the rule.

Only twice in the last 11 years has the team with the best goal difference not won the league. In 2003, United were three goals worse off than Arsenal, while it was again United who benefited in 2009 when Rafael Benitez's Liverpool racked up the highest goal difference not to win the league (+50), losing out by four points to United (+44).

It's been a peculiar couple of seasons at the other end of the table, with Wigan (-42) last year the first team to stay up with the worst record in the division. A year earlier Newcastle (-19) went down despite having a better record than three teams who survived, while the previous year Birmingham's -16 saw them relegated despite being better than six rivals.

Irish Independent

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