I sat watching Arsenal play Liverpool a week ago, one of the most exciting, action packed games of the Premier League season thus far. Lee Dixon, Arlo White’s co-commentator for NBC Sports said, “What shows Liverpool’s title credentials is their ability to score and go one-up while being outplayed by their opposition.”
It’s always been stated that title-winning teams accumulate points when they’ve been inferior to their opponent over 90 minutes, hence making them ‘championship-caliber.’ The footballing world hears this kind of statement, buys into it and then let’s it permeate throughout our teams believing it to be true – when it isn’t.
Every club in every single league around the world earns points when they have no right to, based on performance. If Fulham beat Liverpool this weekend, will it be because they outplayed the Scousers? Heck no, it’s going to be based on luck, taking the few chances they’ve carved out and defending with resilience. They’ll have to ride out those moments when they’re completely under the cosh which requires mental strength and leadership.
Did Leicester City win the title in the 2015-16 season by winning games they were outplayed in? Not a chance. If you breakdown each and every match, they won the title by being dominant in 80% of games they played. They had the most solid spine in the Premiership from the goalkeeper right through to the striker and they only lost 3 matches compared to second place Arsenal’s 7. They also won 3 more games than Arsenal equaling 9 points and won the league by 10.
The mark of a true title winning team is outplaying their opposition in the majority of games they play, not getting points when they have no right to - all teams do that.