Top Six Seasonal Form – When Does Form Peak and Plummet?

As we have seen so far this season, Man City’s form is relentless regarding winning a record run of games. This article will focus on the characteristics of the top six in terms of when they usually hit peak form, and when they go through bad patches.

How true are the rumours that Arsenal Bottle it after Xmas, and that Man Utd hit peak towards the end of the season? Let’s find out! All the stats here are based on fixtures over the last 10 years.

Manchester United
Let’s start with Man Utd’s average form over a season during the last 10 years. This is based on the points tally over a five game rolling period.
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Without teaching you to suck eggs, as you can read the graph yourself: Man Utd start slowly and grow into the league and have a mini peak going into the Christmas Period. Form generally drops in the New Year but still better than the start of the season; which is where Man Utd really find their form and peak during the crunch phase of the season. We then drop off significantly at the end of April which could be explained by either winning or losing the league with nothing left to play for.

Man Utd vs Man City
Man City have won the last 16 league matches in a row which in terms of any of their previous seasons is a freak run. Do Man Utd have any hope that this form will drop off in terms of usual form character over the last 10 years?
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There couldn’t be much more contrast between the two teams. Almost like a Yin and Yang…

Man City start the season well, but then drop off gradually up to and including the Christmas Period, they peak just after the New Year, then drastically drop off in Feb to the end of April. Then they have a sprint finish to the end of the season (last 5-7 games). Literally the opposite to Man Utd.

City’s bad form period is yet to come, they are currently entering peak form as a club and they usually drop off. Let’s hope that is the same this season. With Man Utd about to enter their form period there’s a hope we could still catch the current League leaders.

For interest, I’ll show how Man Utd’s form characteristics compare to the rest of the top six rivals and see if we’re likely to pull further away or get caught.

Let’s start with Arsenal to see if there’s any truth to the ‘Bottlers’ Banter.

Man Utd vs Arsenal
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Arsenal seem to have a triple peak, in both form and ‘bottling it’. The first plummet in form happened around this time of year then again at the crunch phase (Usually when they’re running away with it); and finally at the closing stages. Arsenal have been a team in the last 10 years that simply do not like being in front.

Man Utd vs Chelsea
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Chelsea’s form has a general gradual decline from the start of the season all the way to the New Year. It’s then when they start to pick up form and don’t drop off again until the end of the season, which seems to be a general trend for the top six (apart from Man City).

Man Utd vs Liverpool
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Liverpool’s form during the first half of the season is generally poor. The second half of the season is significantly better, so if Liverpool have a good start to a season they’ll be there or there abouts. Fortunately for Man Utd, that is not this season.

Man Utd vs Spurs
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Spurs peak in over Christmas but their form is poor both at the start and a gradual decline towards the end. If we don’t see Spurs react to the Man City loss and have a strong run during Christmas then they might not be in the running for top four.

To conclude, the Manchester Clubs are both performing above expected in terms of their run of form this season. However, with Man City’s form usually dropping off after Christmas, hopefully we can hang in there and start cutting the gap down.

As for Chelsea, the graph suggests they’ll be on Man Utd’s coat tails for the remainder of the season. If Man Utd don’t drop points in January, we could pull away. As for Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal at this stage of the season and based on points difference and trends for the last 10 years I’d be very surprised if any of those teams passed us for the rest of the season.

Man City are obviously hot favourites being 11 points clear. However, based on past seasons that gap will certainly decrease by the end of the season. Second place will be between Chelsea and Man Utd, but based on stats, City will not drop to third from their current lead.

Bottom line, delusion or not, City’s form drops and Man Utd’s increases from January to the end of the season. Therefore City could be catchable. Man Utd need to keep chipping away and wait for the inevitable drop in Man City’s form to apply a bit of pressure.

Jason Bowditch

Supported United since the days of the yellow and green Sharp Jersey! Looking forward to Jose taking us back to the glory days of old. We're stepping in the right direction. Exciting times! Come on the lads!

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