Minute-by-minute league tables: 4 Dec 2018

You may have seen the stat doing the rounds this week about Arsenal having yet to be winning a match at half time this season despite sitting fourth in the Premier League table. It reminded me that I’ve got a visualisation which shows this sort of thing fairly well by calculating what the league table would look like if matches finished earlier.

What I’ve done is to calculate what each club’s league position would have been if only goals scored up to a certain minute counted, starting with the first minute and going all the way through to the 90th (where we rejoin reality). I’ve then drawn a line for each club to show how their league position would change if you did this.

This creates a lot of data points to visualise, so rather than a static image I’ve used an animated GIF to cycle through each club in turn. This shows every club in descending order of their final league position, on an infinite loop with each frame lasting two seconds. I’ve also gone for a minimalist look to keep load times down.

I appreciate that most people will want to look at their club for longer than two seconds in every 48, so if you click the graphic it will bring up a version in a new tab that can be paused, rewound etc. If you’d rather just see the individual images, I’ve stored them all here.

Hopefully it’s obvious what’s going on:

  • The horizontal axis is the minute at which you artificially stop the clock in every match, divided by the lines into five and 15-minute segments (I’ve rolled injury time into the 45th and 90th minutes to keep things simple);
  • Vertically you have league position in descending order with the top four, mid-table and relegation places highlighted.
Premier League

We can see that Arsenal would indeed be 19th if matches ended at half time, but by the hour mark they’ve usually righted themselves. Everton are another team who look a bit shaky at the interval, and Man Utd are another slow starter: along with Leicester they’d rank as relegation fodder if you were to stop every match after 25 minutes. Bournemouth and West Ham meanwhile tend to fade after bright starts, with the Cherries the third best team in the division until just before the half-hour mark and the Hammers fifth until just before half time.


If you thought Arsenal’s second-half transformation was impressive, then you’ll probably be impressed by Norwich‘s too: the Canaries currently top the Championship table but if matches ended at half time they’d be hovering around the relegation places. Promotion rivals West Brom also start matches dismally but improve massively as the interval approaches. Preston and Reading meanwhile have a habit of making fast starts but fizzling out: with half an hour on the clock they’ve been performing like play-off hopefuls but another 30 minutes later they’re among the relegation battlers.

League 1

Joey Barton might need to work on his half time team talks at Fleetwood, who find themselves in mid-table despite first halves that have been good enough for automatic promotion. Rochdale and Oxford have burned out even more quickly, with bright starts typically going downhill before the interval. Southend have been the opposite, with seemingly dire openings being remediated after the break. Doncaster‘s matches also look to have followed the ‘game of two halves’ cliche this season, with the Yorkshire side performing at a lower mid-table level until shortly after the interval, when they step it up and reveal themselves to be promotion contenders.

League 2

The first half hour of Newport matches have made for grim viewing this season, but the Exiles seem to snap out of it thereafter. Stevenage meanwhile owe their top half place almost entirely to how well they approach the final 10 minutes of games. One of the weirdest charts of the lot is Grimsby‘s: the Mariners would be top of the division if you stopped every match after 43 minutes, but things unravel significantly for them in the second half. Cambridge are another team who seemingly struggle to last the distance, looking like play-off contenders with half an hour on the clock but spiral towards relegation battlers before the hour mark.