Data dive: Predicting the Premier League’s race for Europe

The Premier League’s race for European football is setting up for an exciting finale.

A host of clubs with differing budgets and playing styles are in the running to feature in UEFA’s three elite competitions in 2023/24.

As the battle for continental qualification hots up, we’ve used the Twenty3 Toolbox to analyse the teams involved.

Champions League

Arsenal and Manchester City hold the pole positions, with eyes on lifting the Premier League title. 

Both look set to qualify for the Champions League next season, a feat Arsenal have not achieved since the 2016-17 campaign.

The Gunners are riding the crest of a wave which has seen them score two stoppage-time winners in their last four top flight matches.

Impressively, they have had 14 different league goalscorers this term – more than any other team – which will please Mikel Arteta as they push for a first-place finish.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s Citizens recovered from a disappointing 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest by beating Bournemouth and Newcastle in comfortable fashion.

Phil Foden’s recent resurgence – with three goal contributions in his last two league matches – will be key, as City look to chase down the Gunners to defend their title. 

Manchester United sit in third, and despite going on an impressive run of form led by a red-hot Marcus Rashford, lost by a stunning 7-0 margin to rivals Liverpool.

Regardless, they still have a four-point cushion over Tottenham with a game in hand, and Erik ten Hag’s side should bounce back to take another Champions League spot.

United’s counter-attacking style has been particularly effective, with no team managing a higher expected goals contribution from counterattacks (4.33xG).

There is all to play for when it comes to fourth spot, however, after Spurs’ mixed run of form was underlined by a 1-0 defeat to lowly Wolves.

Harry Kane is enjoying a sensational season with 18 league goals so far, but the drop-off from Son Heung-min will be of serious concern, with just five goals and three assists.

The signing of Richarlison was expected to be a big boost, but he is yet to find the back of the net in 17 top-flight appearances.

One thing on their side is a favourable run of fixtures to finish the campaign.

However, they must cut out fatal mistakes in matches – Bournemouth are the only club with more dangerous ball losses in their own half (167), which could prove costly in Spurs’ quest for Champions League football next term.

Europa League

Liverpool and Newcastle United are currently in fifth and sixth place respectively, but both will be coveting a spot in the top four.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have one game in hand on Spurs and are three points behind, while the Magpies have two games in hand and are four points off the pace.

The return of Ibrahim Konate from injury will be crucial to the Reds tightening up at the back, and – now Cody Gakpo is off the mark – it seems their attack is finally starting to click.

Liverpool rank third for expected goals (42.43xG), an area they need to start cashing in on, to push for Champions League football.

Newcastle, on the flip side, look to be sliding further down the table after a formidable start to the season.

The loss of Bruno Guimarães for four of their last five matches has been a significant factor, as his absence took away a vital tempo setter and chance creator in midfield.

Now the goals have stopped flowing. The Tynesiders have netted just once in their last three fixtures and are currently underperforming their xG by 4.37.

Nonetheless, Alexander Isak, Callum Wilson, new addition Anthony Gordon and Allan Saint-Maximin are capable of creating a potent front line, but it is up to Eddie Howe to find the magic formula.

Europa Conference League

Fulham, in seventh, have been soaring up the table with big performances over the likes of Chelsea and Brighton.

They have an xG conceded of 41.16 though, only worse than Bournemouth. That speaks volumes for the work of Bernd Leno, who has made the second-most saves in the league (95). 

The Cottagers also face a tough run-in to the end of the season, with four of the proverbial “big six” still to play.

The clinical nature of those sides could be the West Londoners’ downfall – and see them miss out on Europe as result.

Brighton and Brentford lie just a point behind Fulham; the former with three games in hand and the latter with two.

Roberto De Zerbi has been one of the surprises of the season after the departure of Graham Potter, which many thought could lead to the club Seagulls plummeting down the table.

And Karou Mitoma is proving to be among the most in-form wingers in English football, thanks to his impressive close-control dribbling and composure in front of goal.

Brighton enjoy dominating the ball, with only Manchester City and Arsenal averaging more possession (57.25).

As a result, the South Coast outfit are equally solid at the back, conceding just 64 non-penalty shots on target, which again can only be bettered by the Citizens with 58.

Brentford are in an even richer vein of form, as no other Premier League team has a longer unbeaten streak (12).

Ivan Toney is leading from the front with 15 goals – third only to Kane and Erling Haaland – and has also chipped in with three assists this season. 

Expect these two teams to challenge for the Europa League positions, with one of them likely to usurp Fulham in seventh – at the very least.

All graphics in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.