E Ratings update: League 2, 25 Sep 2016

Here is the first update of the season to the E Ratings and how they predict the rest of the season will pan out. I wanted to wait until the ratings had settled down a bit, as the start of the season tends to be chaotic while they adjust to changes in team strength over the summer.

The rating system is explained here, but in a nutshell it’s based on the combined quality of chances that clubs create and allow, rather than their results.

The attack rating broadly equates to how many goals’ worth of chances a team would create against an average opponent (so higher is better), with the defence rating equivalent to the chances they’d be expected to allow (so lower is better).

The overall rating is the difference between the two – effectively the average expected goal difference per match – so a positive number is good and a negative one is bad.

The graphic below lists each club in descending order of their overall E Rating and shows how this – along with their individual attack and defence ratings – have changed over the past 30 league matches.

The red and green arrows indicate how the overall rankings have moved in the past month and the numbers in brackets show the ranks for each team’s attack and defence ratings.

l2-ratings-2016-09-25

As anyone who’s followed the blog this season will already know, Portsmouth have put in almost uniformly excellent – and dominant – performances this season, and the E Ratings love them for it. Pompey look the best side in the division at both ends of the pitch by some distance, with Accrington still looking strong after managing to retain some of the sparkle from last season’s promotion tilt despite their squad being raided.

Newly-promoted Cheltenham and Grimsby are both already performing at a level consistent with a top half finish, so neither look to be in danger of an immediate return to the fifth tier. Above them, both Carlisle and Luton look to be on the rise, with their attacks particularly impressive.

At the bottom, both Crawley and Morecambe – who met at the weekend – are worryingly adrift, with the former’s attack and the latter’s defence of particular concern. The Shrimps’ defence is permitting opponents a worrying amount of chances and their display at home to the division’s lowest-rated attack has only underlined this (remember that higher is worse for the defence ratings, as this means that opponents are creating better chances).

Predicting the rest of the season

Below I’ve used each club’s current ratings and those of their remaining opponents to predict how the rest of the season could play out. Each of the remaining fixtures has been simulated thousands of times, using the current E Ratings to generate probabilities for where each club will finish.

This graphic shows the cumulative probability of where each club could end up, in descending order of average points won. You can think of the ordering of the teams down the left hand side as a “best guess” of the final league table, with the coloured bars showing the relative likelihood of each club ending up in a certain section of the table:

l2-probabilities-2016-09-25

As it stands, Portsmouth are considered to have an 80% chance of finishing in the top three and a smaller than 5% chance of missing out on the play-offs, such is the level of dominance they’ve maintained so far.

Accrington are also among the promotion favourites despite sitting 10th in the league table, but it’s possible that their E Ratings – and hence prospects – will wane given their slight regression from last season’s showing.

Four wins from their first five games has given Morecambe what looks to be a much-needed cushion, although they are still expected to drop dangerously close to the foot of the table. Newport are considered favourites to go down as it stands although – as for all of these probabilities – there is plenty of time for things to change.