How goal difference could decide this season’s title

How goal difference could decide this season's title

How goal difference could decide this season's title

With Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City separated by just a few points as we head into the final few weeks of the season, there is the real possibility that goal difference could decide who wins the title.

The 13th of May 2012. The final day of the Premier League season. Manchester City and Manchester United sit first and second in the table, with one final round of matches to be played. As the clock ticks toward the 94th minute, Sergio Aguero scores one of the most dramatic goals in Premier League history, earning City a 3 - 2 victory over QPR, and winning them their first title since the 1960s.

Both City and United finished the 2011-12 season on 89 points.  Both teams had won 28 games, drawn 5, and lost 5.  The only thing separating them was goal difference, with City's goal difference of +64, better than United's, which was +56.

To this day, the 2011-12 season is the only time in English football history that the league title has been decided on goal difference.  Yet with just nine games left of this season (eight for City and Arsenal after their matches earlier this evening), there is a very real possibility this season's title could be decided by goal difference.

But what is goal difference, how is it calculated, and when would it be used to decide who wins the league?

What is goal difference and how is it calculated?

Goal difference is simply the difference between the number of goals a team has scored and the number of goals they have conceded.  For teams at the top of the league, goal difference will usually be a positive figure, as to win more games, you need to score more goals.  For teams at the bottom of the league, their goal difference will usually be a negative figure, as they have lost more games, and let in more goals.  After tonight's games, Arsenal have scored 72 and conceded 24, meaning they have a goal difference of +48.  Man City have scored 67 and conceded 29, meaning their goal difference is +38.

Ahead of our game against Sheffield United tomorrow evening, Liverpool have scored 67 and conceded 27, meaning we have a goal difference of +40.

When Arsenal played Sheffield United a few weeks ago, they won 6 - 0.  If Liverpool can replicate that result tomorrow night, the Reds will not only move back to the top of the table on points, but they will also improve their goal difference to +46, putting more pressure on Arsenal and City.

When would goal difference be used to decide the league?

The Premier League has several criteria by which the league champions are decided, namely

  1. Total points won
  2. Goal difference
  3. Total goals scored
  4. Head-to-head points
  5. Away goals scored in head-to-head matches

So although goal difference has only been used once to decide the outcome of the league title, it is still a significant rule that teams and managers must be aware of.

That's why tomorrow's game against Sheffield United is so important, not only for Liverpool to win another three points, but also to help the Reds close the gap on Arsenal's superior goal difference.  It's also the reason I expect Klopp will start with Diaz, Nunez and Salah in attack, and tell the team to play with a high tempo, put United under pressure and score as early as possible.

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... About The Author ...

Peter Farrell :: LFC - Back On Our Perch Author and Editor

Peter Farrell - Editor and Chief Article Writer, LFC - Back On Our Perch
Articles written by Author :: 488

Lifelong fan with a passion for all things Liverpool. First memory of football is watching John Barnes score a dramatic last minute equaliser in the FA Cup when he was 4. Feels lucky to be a part of the 'Klopp' era.

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