Tottenham, Liverpool Would Be in Champions League If Not for Woodwork

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterMay 20, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19:   Michael Dawson and Kyle Walker of Tottenham celebrate the Gareth Bale goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland at White Hart Lane on May 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

It sounds like a hypothetical question, but thanks to stats, we now know the answer.

What if all the shots that hit the woodwork in the 2012-13 English Premier League season had counted as goals? It turns out Opta ran the numbers (h/t 101 Great Goals), and the EPL table would look quite a bit different this morning after the final matches of the season.

Most noticeably, Tottenham Hotspur would have finished third with 76 points, 83 goals scored and a goal differential of plus-31. Compare that to Spurs' fifth-place finish in the real table, with 66 goals scored and a goal differential of plus-20. That's a difference of 17 goals scored and two very valuable places.

With a third-place finish, Spurs would have qualified directly for next season's Champions League group stage. Instead of a summer full of Gareth Bale exit rumors, Tottenham fans would probably read about several high-priced stars being linked with their club.

Anyhow, the table appears below in graphic form. All stats were compiled by Opta.

Just below Spurs in the imaginary table were Liverpool, who would have finished fourth without the tyranny of crossbars and uprights. The Reds gained 19 goals and three whole places in the non-woodwork table, and by finishing fourth, Brendan Rodgers' men would have clinched a spot in the Champions League qualifying rounds.

There was no room for Arsenal or Chelsea in the top four, and Everton still missed out. At the top of the table, Manchester United still won the title easily and even gained 24 goals in the process.

In a cruel twist, the non-woodwork table kept Wigan in the Premier League at Newcastle's expense. So in a sense, it turns out Wigan's fatal flaw wasn't just their run to the FA Cup, but also an inability to stop hitting the crossbar.

And as for Reading and QPR? There's a good chance neither had a chance this season, after all.