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How scientific Premier League season prediction got it COMPLETELY wrong!

Few people could have predicted the story of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. 

That Liverpool would clinch the title with ease, Sheffield United would flirt with Europe or that the campaign would finish in July rather than May due to a worldwide pandemic. 

But some fans may remember BT Sport’s ‘Unscripted’ – a report commissioned by the broadcaster to try and project how the season would unfold. 

They brought together leading scientists and real-time sports analysis experts Squawka to analyse vast amounts of football data from Opta and bold predictions were made to form par of the ‘script’. But it did not go according to plan. 

Manchester City were tipped to claim their third successive title while Sheffield United and Newcastle were favourites for relegation as Leicester were destined for mid-table obscurity. 

We’ve picked out the biggest calls the script got wrong and BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas gave his opinion on how it’s all panned out.

1. Manchester City 2. Liverpool. 3. Tottenham 4. Chelsea

1. Liverpool (C) 2. Man City 3. Manchester United 4. Chelsea

The coronavirus pandemic meant Liverpool had to wait that little bit longer to get their hands on the Premier League title but Jurgen Klopp’s men finally got to lift the trophy at Anfield on Wednesday night.

However, the Reds were predicted to miss out on top spot once again with Pep Guardiola supposed to lift his third successive league title – but his City side are currently 18 points behind.

‘I think if you’d come to me or anybody at the end of last season we’d have all said Liverpool and City are gonna go toe to toe,’ Jenas told MailOnline.

‘Nobody could have envisaged that the gap would be as big as it is. Jurgen Klopp said it – how are they so far behind?

‘You could say that Liverpool did exactly what they were supposed to do but could anybody predict Manchester City’s best defender getting injured and having to play for three quarters of the season with Fernandinho at the back? Nobody can predict these types of things.

‘It can’t predict that Virgil van Dijk is gonna stay fit all season as well as it can’t predict that Aymeric Laporte is gonna miss a large part of the season, they’re the two most important defenders for both teams. 

‘The minute Laporte got injured I called it pretty early, I remember saying it on Match of the Day and getting a load of stick for it because people were talking about how good Fernandinho can be to replace him and they’ve got Otamendi and Stones. 

‘But  you don’t get it, these people are the lieutenants of the team – they are so important – you can’t predict the impact it has in the dressing room and the confidence it gives other teams when that person is not on the team sheet.’ 

 

18. Newcastle 19. Norwich 20. Sheffield United

18. Watford 19. Bournemouth 20. Norwich (R)

The script had better hopes for Watford and Bournemouth, who go into the final day battling to stay in the division while Norwich have already been relegated back the the Championship.

Newcastle and Sheffield United fans have reason to be smug with both their teams defying the bleak pre-season predictions. But Jenas admitted that the Magpies looked like they would be contenders in the relegation battle ahead of the 2019-2020 campaign.

‘When you look at the numbers and the shift in management, Newcastle at the start of the season looked a good bet to be challenging for relegation,’ he said.

‘Nobody really understood what a good job Steve Bruce was going to do, especially at the start of the season – it was all turmoil.

‘Sheffield United was a little more difficult because there was a lot of unknowns. Most teams that come up from the Championship tend to battle it out in that first season. They changed nothing about their style of play and actually didn’t add a ridiculous amount of players to their squad.

‘I think there must be something in that because if you look at the teams that come up and spend money, Fulham came up and went down, Aston Villa look like they could possibly hang on by a shoestring after spending the best part of £145million.

‘There’s something in breaking up that spirit and dynamic that gets you up in the first place and adding all this money to it that must be a negative that maybe the script will have to factor in to its huge predictions.’

Sheffield United (8th) and Newcastle (13th) are both safe and clear from the drama at the bottom of the table heading into the final round of Premier League fixtures.

The Blades have even flirted with the European places for much of the season, before falling out of the race after losing to Everton in their penultimate game. Chris Wilder has been hailed for the success he has had in his first season in the top-flight but Jenas believes Steve Bruce can also be happy with his year at St James’ Park.

He added: ‘I view what Steve Bruce has done for Newcastle in the same way I view what Chris Wilder has done for Sheffield United.

‘Because arguably, Sheffield United were a much more stable football club than Newcastle when they came up, they had a style of play, Newcastle lost their manager and they brought in a manager that the fans didn’t take to straight away. He had to really adapt from Rafa’s style of play to his own style of play and he’s done it with ease and actually they’ve cruised it.’  

1. Mohamed Salah (29) 2. Harry Kane (24) 3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergio Aguero (23)

1. Jamie Vardy (23) 2. Danny Ings (21) 3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (20)

Few people would have had Jamie Vardy and Danny Ings down to be the Premier League’s top goalscorers heading into the final day.

Vardy has enjoyed a year of form similar to the 2015-2016 season which saw the Foxes win the title while Ings has lifted the Saints far away from relegation trouble to the safety of mid-table. Vardy also managed to score his 100th Premier League goal against Crystal Palace.

Leicester still have a shot at qualifying for the Champions League but must beat Manchester United at the Kingpower on Sunday with Vardy hoping he can celebrate with the golden boot.

But he could still be hunted down by Ings or Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will be looking to add to his tally against struggling Watford.

Mohamed Salah is ten short of the script’s predicted 29 goals with 19 for the Reds this season. However, the Egyptian has 10 assists – more than any of the other contenders for the golden boot, despite jokes from Sadio Mane that he should pass more.

1. Raheem Sterling (13) 2. Alex Iwobi, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mesut Ozil, Bernado Silva (11)

1. Kevin De Bruyne (19) 2. Trent Alexander-Arnold (13) 3. Andy Robertson (11) 

While the script envisaged Trent Alexander-Arnold having another prolific season, it’s fair to say the rest of its predictions were pretty abysmal.

Kevin De Bruyne, who is two assists away from breaking Thierry Henry’s record, did not even make the top three while his team-mate Raheem Sterling, who was predicted to lead the way, has created just one goal.

Sterling has focused more on his finishing this season with an impressive 19 goals to his name.

There were high hopes for Everton’s Alex Iwobi who was estimated to make 11 assists, but the midfielder has not managed to register one this season with just a single game remaining. 

Mesut Ozil has two assists for the season while Bernardo Silva has seven. Liverpool’s Andy Robertson equalled his tally for the 2018-2019 season when by grabbing another assist against Chelsea on Wednesday but the left-back was overlooked in the pre-season predictions.  

BT challenged the biggest brains in sports data to write the world’s first AI-driven script for a Premier League season, for its #Unscripted campaign. Check out how the report fared at btsport.com. 

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