E Ratings update: League 1, 26 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.


You can see how the model assessed the latest round of matches here. It’s worth noting that the changes shown here will include the impact of the midweek matches too.

Sheffield United are comfortably the best-rated side after their recent improvements, with Bradford having stalled. Underachieving Oxford put in an impressive performance at leaders Scunthorpe to overtake the Iron in the ratings – they look capable of a late play-off bid at this rate.

Fleetwood were the biggest risers after putting in a convincing display at Wimbledon (one of the sides they overtook in the ratings table), while another Bury performance that ended in defeat and with fewer than 11 men on the field saw them fall yet further.

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:


The current top four are some way ahead of the rest in the automatic promotion battle, with Scunthorpe and Sheffield United the front-runners. The Blades’ superior ratings see the remainder of their season assessed more favourably but the Iron have built up a decent points advantage.

Beneath them the play-off race is far more open, with plenty of contenders hovering and only Millwall having a better than 50:50 chance of making the top six as it stands.

At the bottom it continues to look bleak for Shrewsbury, who look very likely to drop into League 2 at the moment. Performances have yet to improve noticeably since the managerial change (as per the first graphic), so their chances of bridging the five-point gap between themselves and safety are slim.

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.


With Bolton the only member of the top four not to drop points in the last seven days, the Trotters were the only club to see their automation promotion prospects materially change.

Four points from six suited Scunthorpe slightly better than Sheffield United thanks to the Iron’s existing points cushion (the Blades have fewer games remaining to close a gap of the same size, so their prospects have diminished very slightly).

Now let’s look at the relegation battle:


Chesterfield’s consecutive 3-2 wins have given their survival hopes a massive boost: they were in almost as much danger as Shrewsbury last week but have given themselves a fighting chance.

Bury’s collapse continues and they are now one of the four likeliest sides to drop into League 2 thanks to Swindon’s win over Bradford. Poor weeks for Coventry, Port Vale and Walsall left all three with relegation concerns, although survival remains the more probable scenario as it stands.