IMAGINE THE PREMIER LEAGUE WAS A TWO-LEGGED AFFAIR
Imagine it. Your lot have Huddersfield at home for the first game of the season. A good time to get some points on the board. Three big, sunny, August points to go alongside your tan and your shorts and the fake Ralphie cap you found at the music festival on the Bulgarian coast. Except you get slapped 3–0. WOEFUL! Everyone on the radio call-in says. NOT A CLUE! Everyone on Twitter says. GET. HIM. OUT. Someone, somewhere, on Facebook says. Straight away: it’s three points dropped. What a dreadful start. Thing is though, it’s not. It’s just the first leg. In five months’ time you’ve got the second leg. A chance for redemption. A chance to not lose those three big, sunny, August points. Imagine it.
U/notfromkentohio from Reddit has done exactly that and created Premier League tables for the last five seasons based on the idea that every season is a series of 19 two-legged matches. And, actually, it's very interesting. Think about it. Liverpool thrashed West Ham 4–0 at Anfield at the start of this season. Swatted them. But, at the Olympic Stadium, West Ham held them to a 1–1 draw. 5–1 on aggregate, a stuffing, but only four points in the bag. Two points on top of that would look extremely helpful at the top of league right now.
So, in the two-legged leagues, there's some big movers. Tottenham, who finished second to Chelsea by seven points in the actual 2016/17 season, win the bloody thing if every game is over two legs. By four points. Pochettino signs a new contract. The Nike Stadium is ready in time. Swooshes light up the North London sky. Bournemouth, with their youthful, irreverent, attacking chaos, are still somewhere near the middle, and Arsenal... are fourth.
Last season's relegation battle looks different too. Baggies are still bottom and very relegated, but Stoke and Swansea stay up with Huddersfield and Southampton going the other way. Charlie Austin doesn’t sing Park Life. David Wagner leaves to go and take over at a healthy German club even earlier. And Stoke City, with those oddly gifted attacking players they sometimes bring on as substitutes, decide to fix themselves and make a charge for Europe this year. Shaq still goes though. Bournemouth, with their youthful, irreverent, attacking chaos, are still somewhere near the middle, and Arsenal... are sixth.
It’s fun. Honestly, it's fun. Take a look at the rest of the league tables here and see where your hapless club would have ended up if each game was a two-legged affair. For what it’s worth, Slaven Bilić’s West Ham would have been in the Champions League after finishing fourth in the 2015/16 season. And that, that is worth thinking about.