Visualising the 2015/16 fixtures
Now that the fixtures have been released for the top four English divisions, I thought I’d crank out updated versions of my fixture difficulty visualisations. The idea behind these is to categorise each club’s fixtures by the strength of their opponent to pick out particularly easy or tricky runs of games over the season. I’ve simplified things slightly this year: rather than trying to apply a correction for home and away matches, I’ve just taken an average of eight leading bookies’ title odds as a proxy for ranking each club’s “strength” and then divided each division’s clubs into four quarters based on the bookies’ implied ranking. I’ll provide some observations for each division to give you the idea, and you can click on each image to bring up a full-sized version.
- It looks like Sunderland should be able to start well, playing three of the five worst-rated sides in their first six matches, but a pretty horrendous December where four of their five games are against teams expected to finish in the top five.
- While Arsenal have a relatively easy run-in, facing four implied relegation candidates in their last seven fixtures, Bournemouth have a tough end to their maiden Premier League campaign. The Cherries have to play four of the five toughest sides from the end of April onwards, so they’ll need to be clear of danger by the end of March to avoid being dragged into the relegation scrap late on.
- MK Dons have been handed a straightforward start to life in the second tier, with four of their first five matches against relegation candidates. Nottingham Forest also have a very mild start to their season.
- Brighton‘s festive period isn’t likely to be cheerful, with a horrible run of games from early December until New Year’s Day.
- It’s a pretty brutal start for Gillingham, who play four of the six scariest clubs in their first five fixtures.
- A similarly unforgiving run-in awaits Shrewsbury, who have to face teams expected to finish in the top six in six of their final seven matches.
- Both of the newly-promoted sides – Barnet and Bristol Rovers – have tough welcomes back to the Football League, with very few “easy” matches in the opening stages of the season.
- Meanwhile Carlisle and Wycombe enjoy much milder starts, with neither facing a serious promotion contender until mid-September.
Note: I’ll add in a Conference version once their fixtures are released on July 3rd.