How do you quantify Premier League success?

Achieving a top-four finish or avoiding relegation is, surely, too simple a barometer for teams at either end of the table. And that's before you've even considered all of the clubs in between.

So we’ve devised an innovative method based on Premier League odds to establish which teams have most surpassed expectations this season, and which have been the biggest disappointments.

And, contrary to what the actual league standings might say, the positions of some of the sides in our alternative table may surprise you…

Performance and profitability

In the same way that tracking profit and loss allows us to measure our success when it comes to betting, we can use it to rank how well teams have performed in a certain division.

If, for example, you were to stake £10 on each team to win every single one of their games this season, then it is the teams with a balance closest to zero that have performed as expected by the bookmakers.

Likewise, the teams with the most profit have been the biggest surprise packages, and those with the most loss have been the biggest flops.

Punching above their weight


We can therefore reveal that it is Watford – currently in 10th place with just 40 points to their name – who are the season’s biggest overachievers, with an overall profit of £108.

Though the Hornets were clearly helped by their shock win at the Emirates in January at an average price of just over 12/1, their total of nine odds-against wins proves their position is no fluke.  

Narrowly behind Watford are Crystal Palace, whose run of six wins in their last eight games – including victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool – has pulled them towards mid-table.

Making up the top four along with league leaders Chelsea are West Brom who, despite a recent blip, are still targeting their highest-ever Premier League points total.

Top of the flops

At the opposite end of the table, it is Middlesbrough who, at -£235, rank as the season’s biggest disappointment by quite some distance.

Sunderland, the division’s bottom side, are predictably second-bottom, though it may come as a surprise that they share that position with 11th-placed Stoke City – who have achieved seven of their 10 wins against teams in the bottom five at odds of 11/10 or lower.

Another name whose dwindling balance may raise a few eyebrows is Southampton, who, despite making a major cup final, are in danger of their lowest league finish in four years.

The big six

Interestingly, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool – third, fifth and sixth favourites for the title in pre-season – are the only teams in the top six to have achieved a profitable and, by extension, successful season.

Liverpool, though, are only marginally in the black, having also officially been the most unpredictable team of the season.

Five sides have enjoyed their most unlikely victory of the season against Jurgen Klopp’s side, who have also been on the receiving end of eight of the 20 most surprising results when including draws.


Like Liverpool, surprises for Arsenal fans have rarely been nice ones, having only once managed to win at odds of higher than 8/11, against Chelsea all the way back in September.

Backing defeats has therefore been the most profitable way to bet on the Gunners, despite Arsene Wenger’s side only suffering their second loss of the season against Everton in December.

In all, their second-half-of-season slump means that you would have pocketed £110 by backing them to lose every match – a balance only bettered by Crystal Palace.

Manchester United, meanwhile, have disappointed for a different reason.

While their propensity for drawing matches has proved costly to their league ambitions, backing them to share the points in all of their matches would actually have made you £261 better off.

All of which means that while the pre-season title favourites Manchester City have failed to live up to their billing, Pep Guardiola – whose side are still poised to secure fourth place – can still say that he has not been the worst in an underperforming bunch.

For now, anyway…


Other observations

  • With a current balance of -£2, Hull City are the team to have performed closest to expectations this season.
  • Burnley’s 10 odds-against wins this season are the most of any Premier League team, all of which have come at Turf Moor.
  • Burnley are the comfortably the biggest overachievers at home, with a potential profit of £199 had you bet £10 on them to win all of their matches at Turf Moor.
  • Hull are second in that list, with a £10 stake on them to win each of their home matches accumulating a total profit of £118.
  • Manchester United are third-biggest underperformers at home this season, behind only Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
  • Had you bet £10 on Manchester United to draw all of their matches at Old Trafford, you would currently be £300 richer.
  • You would only be £23 up backing second-bottom Middlesbrough to lose every one of their matches, compared to £124 had you backed them to draw all of them instead.
  • You would be £70 in profit by backing Leicester to win all of their home matches, but £128 down betting on them to win all of their away games – highlighting where the champions’ defence has been let down.