League 2 trends, 30 Nov 2017

Now that we’re a decent way into the season, I thought that it was about time I updated the long-term trend graphics I introduced last year to see how each club fared throughout their last three seasons. These are explained in full here and briefly below.


These are adapted from a very similar design by the excellent Swedish blogger Zorba138 intended to track a club’s long-term performance and whether this was an underachievement or an overachievement based on the balance of chances created.

There are two lines:

  1. The blue line shows the rolling average of a club’s goal difference over the last 10 league games;
  2. The red line shows the rolling average of their expected goal difference, based on the quality of chances they’ve created and faced.

Comparing these two allows us to see not only how a club’s performances have changed over time, but also whether there were any differences between the balance of chances created (a useful measure of underlying performance) and goals scored.

These are shaded as follows:

  • Blue shaded areas are where goal difference is higher than chances created, suggesting an overachievement;
  • Red shaded areas show the reverse, where the balance of chances was healthier than the actual goal difference, signalling underachievement.

Over the long term we’d expect the two lines to converge unless there’s a significant difference in a club’s attacking or defensive skill compared to the average for the division. We can’t tell from the data alone whether skill or luck is the cause, but the longer a difference persists the more I’d suspect the former.

Club-by-club graphics

Each club is listed in alphabetical order although unfortunately I haven’t got graphics for Lincoln or Forest Green at the moment due to the inexcusably short-sighted decision to stop collecting shot data for the National League last year. I’ll try to come up with some sort of workaround for future batches.

Luton have genuinely pushed on since last season, even if their goal difference doesn’t look sustainable, while Newport‘s fine start looks to have stalled. Wycombe look to have found another gear this time around, steadily maintaining a high level of performance, while Swindon look to be doing well after a poor start. Both Chesterfield and Port Vale look capable of moving up the table based on their underlying performances, which already look “top half”-y and continue to improve.