E Ratings update: League 2, 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.

While Portsmouth’s performances have been ebbing slightly of late, they remain the highest-rated team by quite some distance. In second place are struggling Accrington, whose inability to turn consistently decent performances into results remains a mystery.

At the bottom, Morecambe are stabilising and could soon be replaced by declining Notts County at the bottom of the ratings table.

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 huge rating advantage means that the model still fancies them to come good and claim automatic promotion, but another bad result could see one of the top three replace them as title favourites.

The current top five are all heavily fancied to feature in the final top seven, but the remaining two play-off spots remain up for grabs. Blackpool’s home defeat to Luton has nudged their chances below 50% and they now look to have a fight on their hands.

At the bottom, Newport are the most likely to drop into the National League but still have slightly less than a 50% chance of doing so, with at least three other sides currently in danger of relegation.

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.


Portsmouth’s failure to claim three points from one of their more winnable home fixtures has dented their chances, while wins for the four clubs above them in the league table – however narrow – keeps the promotion race interesting.

Now let’s look at the relegation battle:


Defeats for Newport and Morecambe against fellow relegation battlers has dented their hopes noticeably, while Notts County’s away loss was less material as it wasn’t a game they had much chance of winning.

Crawley and Cheltenham were the beneficiaries in the first two aforementioned results, while Hartlepool’s unexpected point at Portsmouth could prove crucial.