Minute-by-minute league tables: EFL, 2018/19

Today I’ve got another classic – albeit slightly contrived – post-season set of graphics. Something that gets discussed a lot is which clubs start and finish games well (and badly), but rather than just break down when clubs score and concede their goals during a match, what I’ve done here 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 one of the graphics it will bring up a version in a new tab that can be paused, rewound etc. Alternatively, if you’d rather just see a normal static image, 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.

West Brom start matches really badly: if you stopped every game after 38 minutes they’d be sitting 21st. Preston meanwhile tend to start well and get progressively worse, with the best record of all in the first 20 minutes of matches and looking every bit a play-off contender until just before half time when things start to fall apart. The same can be said for Reading, whose problems only seemed to mount in the final half an hour of games. Bristol City are the masters of late surges, as they’d sit 21st if you halted proceedings in the 71st minute – 16 of their points were gained in the final 19 minutes of matches.

A quick note on the Championship: I’ve applied Birmingham’s 9 point deduction and the 1-0 win that Brentford were awarded over Bolton from the first minute, which felt like the least bad way to factor them in.

League 1

If every match this season were stopped after 73 minutes then Charlton would be top with 91 points, so a little bit more nous in the final quarter of an hour would have seen then avoid having to navigate the play-offs. Wind the clock back further to 54 minutes and Fleetwood would have finished in the play-offs, but the 12 points they shed between then and the 68th minute suggest that they’ve struggle to press their advantage in the second half this season. Gillingham ended up in mid-table but if it hadn’t been for their efforts after the 82nd minute – which secured 7 precious points in a congested bottom half – they’d have been in serious danger of relegation. Similarly, Rochdale had the worst record of all after 81 minutes but were 9 points better off by full time.

League 2

Forest Green‘s young side will surely be happy with a play-off finish, but if you’d halted every match after 63 minutes then they’d have been top of the pile and as late as the 79th minute they’d have gone up automatically. Colchester also start impressively well, with the best record in the division up until just before half time when the wheels start to slide off. Tranmere are the opposite: they secured a play-off place but if you stopped games at 62 minutes they wouldn’t even be in the top half. Newport start even more poorly than that – their first 30 minutes tends to be an absolute write-off, but by the 70th minute they’re knocking on the door for automatic promotion.