E Ratings update: League 1, 19 Nov 2016

Here is the latest update of the season to the E Ratings and how they predict the rest of the season will pan out. 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 – has 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.


After yet another dominant performance, Sheffield United overtook stuttering Bradford as the best-rated side in the division. The Blades have been in fine fettle of late: their ratings have been rising dramatically.

There weren’t many big movers this weekend: Charlton dropped two places after scraping past lowly-rated Port Vale at home and Coventry did likewise after a comprehensive defeat at Oxford.

Fleetwood were the only team to move up more than one place, thanks to a combination of their home win over Chesterfield and disappointing showings from the teams around them in the ratings table.

You can see how each match played out here.

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:


Scunthorpe‘s lead at the top of the table is considered a slightly bigger advantage than Sheffield United‘s stronger ratings in the battle for the League 1 title at present.

Beneath them, Bradford, Bolton and Millwall – the latter of whom the model consistently expected to be part of the promotion picture even during their poor start – all look likelier than not to form part of the final top six, with the remaining play-off place still up for grabs.

At the bottom both Shrewsbury and Chesterfield have a lot of work to do if they’re to avoid the drop into League 2, while Oldham are also in real danger of relegation. Bury and Swindon look the most likely occupants of the fourth relegation place, although both have plenty of breathing space in which to turn things around.

What’s changed?

As the graph above only gives the latest snapshot, I wanted to show what effect the latest round of matches has had on the bigger picture. Below I’ve added a few simple graphics to show how the promotion and relegation contests have changed since the previous round of games.

First of all, let’s look at the automatic promotion race. The filled green bars are the current probabilities (and should match the greenest bars above), with the hollow bars showing how each team’s chances looked after the last previous of games.



Bradford’s latest setback has heavily damaged their promotion prospects, with their once-superior ratings no longer offering hope the improvement in results needed to claw their way back up the table.

Sheffield United were the biggest beneficiaries of the Bantams’ lapse this week, although Bolton’s narrow win over Millwall puts them in a strong position to mount an assault on the top two.

Now let’s look at the relegation battle:

2016-11-19-l1-relegationWith the five biggest favourites all losing, each saw their chances of survival shrink slightly, with Shrewsbury’s relegation probability moving north of 90% and Chesterfield’s not far behind.

A narrow defeat for Oldham – which perhaps owed more to their red card – did less damage, while MK Dons were the only relegation-threatened side to see their survival hopes boosted after a creditable draw with Bristol Rovers.