League 2 previews, 15 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

This looks to be Cheltenham‘s hosting of Crawley, which may seem surprising based on a glance at the league table. However a glance at the E Ratings shows that the Robins are overdue a win after some strong performances while their visitors look to be overachieving significantly.

Closest contest

Exeter‘s trip to Barnet looks the toughest game to call this weekend, although there will be plenty more eyes on Portsmouth‘s trip to Plymouth than a meeting of two underachieving sides in the bottom six. Both the Bees and the Grecians appear to be due some luck – particularly up front – and both will surely see this as an opportunity to move up the table.

Likeliest upset

The market seems to be a lot more optimistic about Notts County‘s chances at home to Crewe than I am. The E Ratings suggest that the Magpies have overachieved so far and their defence has allowed a worrying volume of chances at home. Their visitors may not be their most formidable this season but still look under-rated here.

Best chance of goals

Carlisle‘s attack has been among the division’s best for a while now and has reached another level this season, so their hosting of Hartlepool – who have looked increasingly vulnerable at the back – appears to spell goals. The hosts’ own defence looks to have been riding their luck a bit this season, having soaked up a heroic number of efforts for each goal conceded, so against a visiting forward line which has been the very definition of “languidly clinical” a clean sheet is far from certain.

Likeliest to end 0-0

The stand-out candidate for a snooze-fest is Mansfield v Wycombe, which features two of the four worst-rated attacks according to the E Ratings. Both clubs have fared far better in defence – particularly the Stags who have been one of the toughest sides to create chances against – which lowers expectations further.

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.