Stats can’t separate Sydney FC and Victory
TALK about an arm wrestle.
As Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory prepare for the 50th Big Blue, here is proof that the records of the competition's two most successful clubs are almost indivisible.
A compilation of data to establish the most consistent teams in the A-League puts the two shades of blue at the top of the tree, spilt by an almost statistically irrelevant margin.
Giving all 13 teams to have played in the A-League three points for each win they have achieved (including finals), and a point for each draw, to create an average points-per-game figure, puts Victory ahead of Sydney at the top of the table - but only by 0.007 points per game.
To show how fine that margin is, these figures were first compiled a fortnight ago, before round 27, and Sydney FC were on top by an equally tiny amount at that point.
But two Victory wins since, and a Sky Blue defeat (three games out of a combined 755 A-League matches the two sides have played) changed the top of the table.
Brisbane are in third place, appropriate as they have won the third highest amount of silverware, while Adelaide's position in fourth genuinely reflects their consistency over the A-League's 19 seasons.
At the other end of the table, the positions of Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners reflect the awful seasons they have endured for much of the past few years, even though both have won titles and reached several grand finals.
Perth would be in their company before this season too, but the dominance achieved in this campaign under Tony Popovic has lifted their points-per-game average by a remarkable margin for one year.
Now they are in the grand final. But who they will play is the question few would predict with certainty, for just about every set of data points to the closeness of today's semi-final.
Of the 49 Big Blues played to date, more than a third have been draws - and less than a third have been decided by more than a one-goal margin.
No quarter asked for or given is the usual theme of these games, and Sunday night will be no different.