It's fair to say it's been a bit of an odd Premier League season thus far.
While we have become accustomed to one or two teams blowing through the competition in recent years, this season has become much less predictable. The race for the title and top four are wide open and it becoming increasingly difficult to predict each fixture.
There are many possible reasons for the more chaotic campaign that we have seen thus far. The shorter pre-season has surely played a part, with teams less organised and struggling for fitness early in the opening few games. This is something that will likely balance out as the season goes on.
The you have the absence of supporters at games.
It feels as though home advantage has been eroded as a result, with the lack of home fans in grounds giving each fixture the feel that it is taking place at a neutral venue. Is this actually the case, or has our view been skewed by the strange sight of empty stats?
We have crunched the numbers, and it certainly does look as though this is a real phenomenon.
We have gone back over the last ten seasons, looking at the percentage of games won by away sides in each campaign.
Only one full campaign in the last decade has seen away teams win more games than home sides, with the 2015/16 season the outlier. Every other campaign saw home clubs win a larger proportion of games.
Even that 2015/16 season doesn't compare to the numbers we were seeing at the moment.
Seven weeks into the season, 45% of fixtures have been won away teams. That is a huge number, one that would even dwarf the highest percentage of games that were won by home sides in previous years. Remarkable.
If this trend continues, ones such as the one described below will become increasingly commonplace over the next few months.
Last 3 weeks:
Leicester 0-1 Villa
Villa 0-3 Leeds
Leeds 1-4 Leicester
Stupid league. Home advantage dead.
— Michael McCarthy (@McCarthyMick) November 2, 2020
Then you have the fact that goals are being scored at a record setting pace.
In the 68 fixtures that have taken place this season, a combined 221 goals have been scored. That is an average of 3.25 per game, no surprise when you consider some of the big scorelines we have already seen over the last couple of months.
If this pace were to continue, we would see a frankly ridiculous 1,235 goals scored in the 2020/21 campaign, almost 300 more than the 998 (2.63 per game) we saw last season.
That was a decent dip in the numbers from the previous campaign, with the 2018/19 season seeing 1,072 goals (2.82 per game) scored. For context, that broke the record for a 38-game Premier League season, and the most for goals per game in any season.
It has been theorised that the lack of supporters in stadiums is contributing heavily to the increased goal tally, with players unable to draw on the encouragement of supporters to keep the ball out of the net. Based on the numbers, it is difficult to argue with that assessment.
It will be interesting to see if these numbers continue over the entire campaign.