Championship previews, 14-16 Oct 2016

There’s a change of format this week as I’ve finally gotten around to coding a graphic to summarise my weekly batches of match previews. This gives me something to hang a summary on before launching into the match-by-match gallery, which should suit those who don’t fancy wading straight into a big batch of uncaptioned graphics.


Each match is listed in descending order of how likely a home win is, based on my E Ratings model. Underneath the graphic I’ve picked out the most interesting matches from my perspective. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but this is NOT betting advice – there’s loads of relevant stuff that the model doesn’t factor in (e.g. injuries and suspensions) that will surely have an impact.


Biggest mismatch

Norwich‘s hosting of Rotherham unsurprisingly looks like the surest bet for a home win this weekend, with the Canaries the division’s most ruthless finishers and nobody allowing opponents more chances than the low-rated Millers.

Closest contest

There will be plenty of eyes on Sunday’s clash between leaders Huddersfield and underachieving Sheffield Wednesday. My E Ratings model suggests that the Terriers – while by no means a bad side – aren’t yet performing at a level consistent with a top two finish. All of their wins have been by a single goal and only two sides have taken fewer shots, so history suggests that they’ll eventually stumble if their underlying performances don’t improve.

Likeliest upset

Bristol City are the bookies’ favourites despite being the away team at Cardiff this weekend but, while the Bluebirds’ performances have definitely declined since last season, their ratings haven’t plummeted and therefore their problems look fixable. Their visitors have looked formidable in attack but less so in defence, while a glance at the scatter graphics suggests that the hosts have been somewhat unfortunate at both ends of the pitch.

Best chance of goals

The likeliest venue for goals is probably Newcastle for the visit of Brentford. Between them they operate two of the division’s three most dangerous attacks but the Bees’ defence looks to have been riding its luck somewhat and could spring a leak in what looks likely to be their toughest test of the season.

Likeliest to end 0-0

Blackburn and Ipswich are both ranked in the bottom three for attacking performance at the moment and the visitors’ defence has been looking increasingly solid (ranked seventh and climbing), so I’d be surprised to see the net ripple much at Ewood Park this weekend.

Individual match previews

Below are the individual preview graphics for each of the weekend’s games arranged in a gallery format. These smash together minimalist versions of two visualisations: each club’s E Ratings and their relative positions on the attack and defence scatter graphics.

I’ve explained them fully here, but in summary they’re intended as a simple pre-match comparison of two teams using high-level performance data. The graphic has three sections:

  1. The current ratings (with ranks) of the two teams and how these have changed over the past 30 league matches;
  2. A probability forecast for the match based on the ratings;
  3. Scatter graphics showing the teams’ attacking and defensive performance this season.