E Ratings update: League 1, 17 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.

Sheffield United continue to soar at the top of the ratings after yet another impressive performance. Oxford are also climbing, albeit more modestly, as they became the latest side to inflict defeat on free-falling Bury.

The Shakers’ ratings are plummeting the most alarmingly, although others like Port Vale are also seeing their performances continue to deteriorate. Lowest-rated club Shrewsbury look to be turning things around under their new manager and registered an impressive win over Bristol Rovers.

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 two are twice as likely to secure automatic promotion as third-placed Bolton at the moment, although both the Trotters and Bradford should at least make the top six comfortably.

Improving Rochdale are now slightly more likely than not to join them, with the final play-off place likely to be heavily contested by at least four members of the chasing pack.

At the bottom the relegation race remains wide open, although the likes of Shrewsbury and Chesterfield need to sustain their upturns in fortune to mount a convincing bid for safety.

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.


Wins for the top two enhanced their prospects while defeat for Bolton and a Bradford draw saw both lose ground. While Rochdale and Peterborough both triumphed, they’ll probably need some slip-ups from the sides above them to increase their automatic promotion chances significantly.

Now let’s look at the relegation battle:


Massive wins for Shrewsbury and Chesterfield – the former particularly impressive – has breathed some life into the relegation battle. Defeats for many of the clubs around them has dragged them into the mix, while draws for Walsall and Swindon sees these two tread water.