E Ratings update: League 2, 10 Dec 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.

Although Barnet won at Yeovil, the fortunate-looking nature of the Bees’ victory means that they fall in the ratings while the Glovers rise. A disappointing home performance from Cheltenham makes them the only other team to move more than one place since the last round of fixtures.

Portsmouth continue to look unassailable as the division’s top-rated team while Morecambe could finally shake off their tag as the worst-rated League 2 side if Notts County and Hartlepool continue their own worrying declines.

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:



Portsmouth‘s ratings are so strong that they remain title favourites despite currently sitting fourth. There’s now a four-way tussle for the three automatic promotion spots, with little separating the three clubs currently sitting above Pompey in the league table.

The play-off race is equally interesting, with Luton and Blackpool poised to take two of the remaining three slots but the fourth appearing completely up for grabs.

The relegation battle is also too close to call at the moment, with four clubs all looking threatened but each individually remaining likelier than not to escape.

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.



Luton‘s failure to beat Carlisle at home has undermined their efforts slightly, while Plymouth‘s victory over Doncaster has benefited both the Pilgrims and Portsmouth.

Now let’s look at the relegation battle:


Defeats for Notts County and Hartlepool moved both closer to relegation danger, while wins for Crawley and Leyton Orient saw them edge away from the trap door.

With Newport v Morecambe called off at half time, both now have a game in hand that could distort this picture.