There is no rest for Premier League teams during Project Restart.
With the 2 month break in the middle of a season, looking at the statistics for the teams becomes much harder than you would typically expect after 33 weeks of data on a team.
It is almost like the start of a new season, but with a little bonus data thrown in where teams haven’t changed too much without a transfer window.
Since the restart, Leicester has continued to be a very solid defensive team but they have struggled at times to attack at the same level.
Before the Premier League shut down, Leicester created 1.8 expected goals per match, while allowing 1.3. Since the restart, they have created 1.6 expected goals while still allowing their opponents 1.3 expected goals.
I like to look at how a team performs compared to the team they are facing’s average production as a way of adjusting for schedule.
When I look at this metric, Leicester City went from creating 117% more xG than the teams they had faced typically allowed to just 108% since the restart.
Leicester have also seen a marked decline in their defensive numbers. The foxes went from one of the stingiest defenses in the league to about average. Teams had created just 82% of their typical expected goals against them before the break, to teams creating 102% of their average expected goals since the Premier League came back.
Arsenal is essentially the opposite story, especially if you take out the Manchester City match that saw early injuries and nearly half played with 10 men.
Arsenal has improved from the 13th ranked defense by average xG allowed to the 8th best defense (including the Manchester City demolition).
Looking at just the raw numbers, Arsenal has roughly the same attacking output with 1.34 xG per match (1.56 not counting Manchester City) compared to 1.37 xG per match before the shutdown. The numbers on defense however have been massively improved. Arsenal went from allowing 1.57 xG per match to 1.25 xG allowed (0.81 not counting Manchester City) since the restart.
You can see that focusing on improving the defense has been the priority for Mikel Arteta since he took over for Unai Emery and that is finally starting to bear fruit.
Arsenal faces a tough test with the fixtures over the next few weeks but I haven’t felt this confident about Arsenal in a long while.
My simulation model still sees Leicester as the favorite but this is not nearly as it would have projected just a few weeks ago. I think that I am slightly more bullish than these numbers suggest but I don’t want to get my hopes too high yet.