E Ratings update: League 2, 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.

Portsmouth remain the top-ranked side and very little has changed at the top end of the ratings table; their nearest challengers Accrington and Plymouth have both seen performances drop in recent weeks.

A strong away performance from Barnet and a disappointing home display from Yeovil – who like the Bees had been on a steady upward trajectory – saw each move two places in opposite directions.

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:


There are four clubs with a greater than 50% chance of automatic promotion – the current top three and Portsmouth, whose huge rating advantage is still compensating for their points deficit in the model – which keeps things interesting.

With Luton the only other club with a better than 50:50 chance of making the final top seven, the play-off race remains wide open.

Defeats for Newport and Notts County leave both with relegation probabilities of close to 50%, although with just two clubs dropping into the National League there’s plenty of time for things to change.

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-l2-promotion Wins for Portsmouth and Doncaster saw their prospects improve at the expense of Plymouth and Doncaster – who both drew – and outsiders Luton who lost at home to Colchester. Blackpool’s win nudged their hopes slightly but they’ll need a few collapses from the clubs above them to gain serious ground.

Now let’s look at the relegation battle:


The aforementioned defeats for Newport and Notts County, combined with a precious win for Morecambe, saw the Shrimps’ survival prospects boosted massively. Leyton Orient’s win saw them inch away from danger at the expense of Cheltenham, whose performances continue to ebb.