Luck Index Premier League lessons: Can new players, a fresh approach improve luck?
The Luck Index shows that Manchester United were the most fortunate team in the Premier League last season, while Arsenal and Liverpool will be desperate for a change of fortunes this coming campaign. But how could that come about? These are the Luck Index lessons for the 2018-19 season.
Buy new players to plug the gaps
Liverpool suffered horribly last season, ending up the unluckiest team in the Premier League as they missed out on 12 points and second place. So how can they (and others) turn that around? Simple: Buy a load of players.
Manager Jurgen Klopp has now spent a staggering £250 million in 2018. Virgil van Dijk accounts for £75m of that figure following his January move from Southampton -- a world record for a defender -- but it's been spend, spend, spend over the summer with Alisson (£65m), Naby Keita (£52m) and Fabinho (£45m) all arriving.
Despite Lady Luck deserting Liverpool for most of the last campaign they still managed to finish fourth in the table, but there is no doubt that defensive ineptitude was at the heart of their problems.
According to the Luck Index, much of Liverpool's poor fortune came before Van Dijk arrived, so there is already evidence that upgrading players can have a positive effect in that aspect. And the Reds' transfers have been targeted to solving their main weaknesses.
While Loris Karius wasn't really at fault in the league last season (we won't mention the Champions League final), the presence of a solid goalkeeper can make a huge difference. If a defence believes it is in front of a reliable keeper, this breeds confidence through the whole rear-guard.
Karius would not have inspired that confidence, but as Van Dijk added that kind of presence in the centre of defence, now Alisson could be the glue that binds everything together. Add in Fabinho in defensive midfield (or at right-back) and Klopp looks to have a real unit to work with.
If Naby Keita can add the goals to help raise their shot conversion rate (18.2 percent) up to the level of defending champions Manchester City (20.7 percent) maybe luck won't come into it. After all, no one claims last season's champions, Manchester City, were lucky and they certainly knew how to spend.
A new manager brings a fresh approach
Arsenal had a horrendous time on the road last season. They were the only team in Europe's top five leagues not to pick up a single away point in 2018 until they won their final match at Huddersfield in Arsene Wenger's farewell as manager. New coach Unai Emery joined in the summer, but does he has the secret ingredient to turn the Gunners' luck around?
After being the unluckiest team away from home -- incredibly they should have been 11 points better off had fortune gone their way -- Arsenal need their new boss to find a solution quickly.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner and goalkeeper Bernd Leno have arrived to help fix the Gunners' defensive issues. Clumsy challenges saw penalties incorrectly given against them last season, so luck is only part of the story for Arsenal, but new arrivals, a new system and new training methods should help to blow away any feeling of stagnation hanging over the club.
Always look on the bright side of life
Manchester United enjoyed more luck than any other team in the Premier League last season. In fact, they were -- along with Bournemouth, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton and Leicester -- one of only six teams to finish with a higher points total than they truly deserved.
But their luck certainly wasn't down to manager Jose Mourinho's positive outlook on the game. The Portuguese always seems to turn towards the negative first. It doesn't look like he is going to cheer up anytime soon as he has already said he is "worried" about the start of the season, and he described preseason as "very bad."
Man United got lucky last season but could easily find themselves out of the Champions League places if they no longer get the rub of the green. Could Mourinho's negative and dour demeanour be translated into his players? And will their luck turn as a result?
Lack of VAR will continue to provide good/bad luck
The World Cup welcomed Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for the first time this summer, and with it came a record number of penalties (29) -- one-third of them awarded after the intervention of the VAR.
La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 have all adopted the video replay system for the new season, but clubs in the Premier League will have to wait for now.
What does it mean? Luck is going to continue to be a crucial factor when it comes to spot kicks.
Take Liverpool, who suffered badly with penalty appeals being turned down. They had three match-defining penalties rejected when they should have been awarded. Arsenal can bemoan the same misfortune, while they also had two penalties incorrectly given to the opposition.
But Manchester United fans may be praying that VAR stays away, because they benefitted from the opposition not being given a deserved penalty on three crucial incidents. Surely that kind of luck cannot continue, though?
For all the information about ESPN's Luck Index, please click here.