Leicester’s form in 2011 has brought about a number of interesting statistics, but surely the best comes in the form of this graph.
The chart shows the number of points the Foxes have won this season and last on a game-by-game basis. As you can see the chart shows that, for the first time this season, a win in Leicester’s next game will mean the Foxes have equalled the number of points they had at the same stage last season. Given City’s start to the campaign, this is a remarkable achievement in itself.
So what does this mean for the rest of the campaign?
Averages suggest that a target of around 73 points should be enough to secure a top 6 spot.Whilst Blackpool scraped into the playoffs with 70 last season, it appears unlikely that a total as low as that will be enough this year. Leicester managed 76 points in 2009/10, a total which has ensured a playoff berth in every season since the dawn of the Premier League.
How many points can City afford to drop and still make the top six?
Leicester’s 16 remaining matches offer a theoretical total of 48 points to add to the 45 they have already won this season. 31 points, an average of 1.93 per game, will be enough to match last season’s total and put City in the playoffs. To put it another way, the Foxes can afford to drop 17 points and still reasonably expect to find themselves on the road to Wembley. On current form that doesn’t look too intimidating.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that pushing for an automatic promotion spot is, in all probability, a fantasy. In the last six seasons an average of 86 points have been required to reach the second automatic promotion place. The strength of the current top six would suggest that historic lows such as the 79 points which were enough to promote Stoke in 2007/08 are unlikely to be seen this season. It all means that to reach second place Leicester can only realistically afford to lose one and draw two of their remaining matches. In Sven we trust, but I doubt even he believes the Foxes will win 13 of their final 16 games.
So the playoffs remain City’s only realistic prospect of promotion this season. The target should be 76 points. Leicester fans should focus on that and not the moving target of the gap between the Foxes and sixth place. A defeat will not be the end of City’s season, indeed Nigel Pearson’s men contrived to lose four in a row just before Easter last year and still comfortably made the playoffs. Making the top six this season will be a minor miracle in itself. If Sven’s men make it that far, then we can consider the prospect of the Foxes making history.