London, March 31: With the coronavirus pandemic ensuring the football season is on hold for the foreseeable future, much debate surrounds the conclusion of the Premier League campaign.
Once normality has returned, should the season be finished whatever it takes, regardless of the impact on future years?
Other suggestions have included an attempt to finish the campaign but only with a hard deadline of the end of June, the prospect of stopping the campaign with current positions honoured or, controversially, could it all just be declared null and void?
Various high-profile figures in the English game have offered their view on which approach would be best at an unprecedented time.
While the public debate has gone on during the break in Premier League action, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.
With all 20 teams having either nine or 10 league matches still to play, their goal was to simulate how the rest of the season would pan out if the games were played now to produce a predicted 2019-20 table.
The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss - based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.
Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.
The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.
All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model - with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.
The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.
Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table.
LIVERPOOL WIN THE LEAGUE WITH 101 POINTS
The results in our model see Liverpool declared as champions with an incredible 101 points.
It would represent the Reds' first English league crown since 1990 as well as being an all-time points record for the English top flight.
Across the top five European leagues, only Juventus, who recorded 102 as they claimed Serie A at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, have earned a higher total.
A spectacular season for Jurgen Klopp's team has seen them spectacularly brush the competition aside to follow up on their Champions League success last season.
CITY SECOND AT A RECORD GAP TO REDS
Manchester City are predicted to finish in second place with 80 points.
The 21-point gap between Liverpool and Pep Guardiola's men would be the biggest ever between the top two teams in an English top-flight season.
City hold the current record, having finished 19 clear of rivals Manchester United when they won the title in 2017-18.
Interestingly, those 80 points would have been enough to win the Premier League title in six previous seasons, the most recent being the 2010-11 campaign.
The simulation also sees Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City complete an impressive year by finishing third in the table, with a six-point cushion over fifth place, ensuring they play in next season's Champions League.
CHELSEA TOP UNITED, SPURS, WOLVES & ARSENAL FOR 4TH
One of the biggest unresolved issues of the halted Premier League season is which team will claim the fourth Champions League spot, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Wolves, Arsenal and Sheffield United all in the mix.
The AI simulation has backed Frank Lampard's Chelsea to finish in fourth place with 63 points, putting them four adrift of Leicester.
Chelsea are backed to finish two clear of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United, who take a fifth-place finish that would secure Champions League football if City's ban from the competition is upheld.
Spurs rise from their current position of eighth to claim sixth with a late flurry of 17 points from their last nine games.
Wolves are seventh with Arsenal having to settle for eighth ahead of Sheffield United, with just three points separating Tottenham and that trio of sides in an extremely close final table.
Carlo Ancelotti guides Everton to 10th in the predicted standings, meaning Burnley and Crystal Palace just miss out on a place in the top half.
WATFORD SURVIVE, BOURNEMOUTH SUFFER THE DROP
West Ham and Watford are sitting outside the bottom three on goal difference, with both teams going on to avoid relegation in our predicted table.
The current bottom three of Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are all simulated to remain in trouble and ultimately suffer the drop.
It is close, though, with Watford and Bournemouth predicted to finish locked together on 36 points, with only goal difference saving the Hornets.
Brighton and Hove Albion finish just one point above the drop-zone, with West Ham three in front, suggesting a dramatic last couple of weeks of the season would have taken place.
Newcastle United (13th) and Southampton (14th) finish in their present league positions.
Forty points is traditionally seen as the number that ensures Premier League safety, but usually a total lower than that can still secure survival.
Indeed, should Bournemouth be relegated with 36 points, it would be the highest total for a relegated team in four years.
Newcastle went down with 37 in 2015-16, with every bottom-three side recording lower totals in the campaigns since.