Liverpool would be top if Premier League reverted to two points for a win - and Everton doomed

Three points for a win was introduced for the 1980/81 season in an effort to eradicate bore draws but has it worked, and how would the 2021/22 table look if wins were only worth two points?

Crystal Palace's 0-0 draw with Leeds United on Monday night edged the West Yorkshire side a point closer to safety. However, despite three points being on offer for a victory, Leeds' approach, and that of Everton at Liverpool the previous day, suggested one point was still the sum total of their ambitions.

So, does that mean three points for a win has not had the transformative impact on the game it was meant to?

Planet Sport crunches the numbers and also looks at how the current Premier League table would shape up if it was only two points for a victory.

Prior to three points for a win

Pat Jennings Martin Peters Apr79

In the ten Division One seasons preceding three points for a win, draws averaged out at 28.7% a season, with the 1973/74 campaign seeing 149 of the 462 games (32.2%) ending in stalemates.

The 1978/79 season also featured 144 draws (31.2%), with Norwich City setting a record, with 23 draws from their 42 games - they finished 16th of 22.

Goals per game averaged out at 2.57 across the period.

The most common scorelines were 1-0 and 1-1, though 1979/80 saw 0-0s hold sway with 57.

Season Matches Draws (%) Goal average Most common
1971/72 462 27.9 2.51 1-0
1972/73 462 28.1 2.51 1-1
1973/74 462 32.3 2.4 1-1
1974/75 462 26.8 2.63 1-1
1975/76 462 27.5 2.66 1-1
1976/77 462 29.7 2.56 1-0
1977/78 462 28.6 2.66 1-0
1978/79 462 31.2 2.63 1-1
1979/80 462 29.0 2.51 0-0
1980/81 462 25.5 2.66 1-0

Immediately after the introduction of three points for a win - 1981/82 to 1991/92

Surprisingly, the first season after the introduction of three points for a win saw draws actually increase from 25.5% in 1980/81 to 26.2% in 1981/82. Goals per game also dipped from 2.66 to 2.54, while 1-1 was again the most popular scoreline.

However, in the 11 seasons between the introduction of three points for a win and the inaugural Premier League, draws dipped on average from 28.7% to 26.6%. Meanwhile, goal output increased from 2.57 per game to 2.65. And in a rare break from 1-0s and 1-1s, a 2-1 home win proved the most prevalent in 1990/91.

Season Matches Draws (%) Goal average Most common
1981/82 462 26.2 2.54 1-1
1982/83 462 24.0 2.74 1-0
1983/84 462 25.5 2.71 1-1
1984/85 462 23.2 2.79 1-1
1985/86 462 23.8 2.79 1-0
1986/87 462 26.6 2.63 1-1
1987/88 420 31.4 2.5 1-1
1988/89 380 29.5 2.53 1-1
1989/90 380 26.1 2.59 1-1
1990/91 380 27.1 2.76 2-1
1991/92 462 29.2 2.54 1-1

The start of the Premier League - 1992/93 to present day

Eric cantona Man Utd Premier League trophy May93

The first seven seasons of the Premier League saw an upturn in draws, with averages topping 30% in three of the campaigns to push the average for the period to 28.6% - on a par with pre three points for a win levels. The 1998/99 season even saw 0-0 proving the most popular scoreline with 49 of the 380 matches ending goalless.

Season Matches Draws (%) Goal average Most common
1992/93 462 28.1 2.65 1-1
1993/94 462 30.7 2.59 1-1
1994/95 462 29.0 2.59 1-1
1995/96 380 25.8 2.6 1-0
1996/97 380 31.3 2.55 1-1
1997/98 380 25.0 2.68 1-0
1998/99 380 30.2 2.52 0-0
1999/2000 380 24.2 2.79 1-1
2000/01 380 26.6 2.61 1-1
2001/02 380 26.6 2.63 1-1
2002/03 380 23.7 2.63 1-0
2003/04 380 28.4 2.66 1-1
2004/05 380 29.0 2.56 1-1
2005/06 380 20.1 2.48 1-0
2006/07 380 25.8 2.45 1-1
2007/08 380 26.3 2.64 1-1
2008/09 380 25.5 2.48 1-0

However, over the 30 seasons of the Premier League draws are down on the two previous study groups, at 25.1%. This has been even more marked over the last nine seasons, with draws dropping to just 23.3%.

Among those was the 2018/19 season which yielded only 71 draws (12 of which featured Southampton) for an average of just 18.7%. It also saw 2-0 as the most popular outcome.

Goals per game are virtually unchanged since the advent of three points for a win, although there has been a pick-up since the 2009/10 season, which saw a 2-1 home win as the most popular scoreline.

The 13 seasons including that one and this have seen goals per game rise to 2.75.

Surprisingly, the average number of games with three or more goals is exactly the same this season as it was in the last season of two points for a win - 52%.

Season Matches Draws (%) Goal average Most common
2009/10 380 25.3 2.77 2-1
2010/11 380 29.2 2.8 1-1
2011/12 380 24.5 2.81 1-1
2012/13 380 28.4 2.8 1-1
2013/14 380 20.3 2.77 1-0
2014/15 380 24.5 2.57 0-1
2015/16 380 28.2 2.7 1-1
2016/17 380 22.1 2.8 1-1
2017/18 380 26.1 2.68 1-1
2018/19 380 18.7 2.82 2-0
2019/20 380 24.2 2.72 1-1
2020/21 380 21.8 2.69 1-1
2021/22 331 23.6 2.77 1-1

This season

Frank Lampard Everton Apr22

With 331 games played, draws average out at 23.6%, with an average of 2.77 goals per game and 1-1 again proving the most popular scoreline.

However, despite draws being down on the levels prior to the introduction of three points for a win (and goals being up), the Premier League would be gearing up for a much more exciting conclusion under the old system.

Redrawing the table under two points for a win would have Manchester City and Liverpool level on points going into the final five games of the campaign. In fact, it would be the Reds who topped the table thanks to their superior goal difference.

The race for the fourth and final Champions League spot would also be far more open, with West Ham, in seventh, trailing Arsenal by just four points - they are currently eight points adrift of the Gunners.

    P W D L F A Pts
1 (2) Liverpool 33 24 7 2 85 22 55
2 (1) Manchester City 33 25 5 3 80 21 55
3 (3) Chelsea 32 19 8 5 67 27 46
4 (4) Arsenal 33 19 3 11 52 40 41
5 (5) Tottenham 33 18 4 11 56 38 40
6 (6) Manchester United 34 15 9 10 53 51 39
7 (7) West Ham 34 15 7 12 52 44 37
8 (8) Wolves 33 15 4 14 33 29 34
9 (11) Brighton  34 9 14 11 31 42 32
10 (9) Newcastle United 34 11 10 13 40 55 32
11 (10) Leicester City 32 11 9 12 47 51 31
12 (13) Southampton 34 9 13 12 40 56 31
13 (14) Crystal Palace 33 8 14 11 43 41 30
14 (12) Brentford 34 11 7 16 41 49 29
15 (15) Aston Villa 32 11 4 17 42 46 26
16 (16) Leeds 33 8 10 15 38 68 26
17 (17) Burnley 33 6 13 14 29 45 25
18 (18) Everton 32 8 5 19 34 55 21
19 (19) Watford 33 6 4 23 31 67 16
20 (20) Norwich 33 5 6 22 22 69 16

However, while it may be good news for Liverpool and to a certain extent West Ham, the revised table would not make such good reading for fans of Everton. The Goodison Park club would need two wins just to get back on level terms with Burnley. And then they would probably still be below the Clarets due to an inferior goal difference.

READ MORE: Divock Origi, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and six other great 'super subs' in English football

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