E Ratings update: League 1, 28 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.

It doesn’t look like anyone’s going to knock Sheffield United off top spot here for a while – none of their closest challengers are seeing performances improve at present.

At the bottom of the ratings table it looks like Port Vale are just one match away from replacing Shrewsbury as the lowest-rated side in the division: their ongoing plummet is in contrast to hints of a Shrews rally.

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:


Sheffield United and Scunthorpe both have a greater than 50% chance of securing one of the two automatic promotion spots as things stand, with Bolton’s chance of muscling in close to one in three.

The final play-off berth looks set to be hotly contested, with Millwall and Peterborough the current front-runners but neither in control of their destiny as it stands.

The relegation battle is wide open at the moment, with seven sides in plenty of danger of finishing in the final bottom four.

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.

2016-12-27-l1-promotion With Scunthorpe holding Bradford to a draw, wins for Sheffield United and Bolton saw them gain ground at the former’s expense. A convincing victory for Rochdale keeps them in the hunt but they’ll need others to slip up in order to make serious headway.

Now let’s look at the relegation battle:


Despite losing to Bolton, Shrewsbury’s survival chances slightly improved thanks to defeats for the three teams beneath them in the table. Bury’s draw was enough to boost their own survival prospects, while Walsall’s win at Port Vale keeps them out of the fray for now.