You may remember from last year that I developed a simple algorithm to visualise each team’s fixture list for the coming season. It works like this:
- Quantify each club’s relative strength using a simple proxy measure: in this instance I’ve chosen Bet365′s current promotion odds (appended at the foot of this post). Even if I don’t fully agree with them, ‘market forces’ should be less controversial than my own opinion.
- Factor in how home advantage affects each team. I do this by taking the ratio of points earned at home vs. away last season.
- Combine these two numbers to assess the difficulty of each fixture for each team. The relative strength is obviously more heavily weighted than the home vs. away rating.
- Rank each team’s fixtures in order of difficulty and colour code them (red = harder, yellow = average, green = easier) to produce a heat map for the season, allowing fans to pinpoint particularly winnable or tough spells for their team.
The Heat Map
Clicking will open a full-sized version in a separate tab:
While your eyes adjust to the technicolour horror, here’s an example of how to read this:
- Brentford have a very easy start (at least on paper). Their first 6 matches all look very winnable, suggesting an early surge towards the top of the table. However, they may stumble in November when they face a frightening run of tough games. They’ll then need to make the most of some kind fixtures in January and February as late March and early April look frankly horrible: they actually play 3 of their 4 toughest games in this period.
- Stevenage and Notts County also have relatively winnable opening fixtures, the odd banana skin or two aside, with the latter also having a very benign February.
- Bournemouth have a tough start, but Bury‘s looks even worse: they’ll have to wait until October before their first ‘easy’ game. The good news for the Shakers is that late October and early November comprise a much more winnable run for them, and on paper they have the division’s easiest end-of-season run-in.
Hopefully this gives you the general idea. I will probably update these as the new season draws nearer and the relative strengths of each team can be gauged with more accuracy.
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Appendix – Bet365′s current promotion odds (decimal)
Just for the record, I think some of these are way off and will surely move significantly between now and mid-August:
Sheff Utd 2.62
MK Dons 3.5
Notts County 5.5
Leyton Orient 21