Game states, 8 Oct 2019
What I’ve done below is to measure how long each club has spent in each of the three main “game states” – i.e. winning, drawing and losing. I’ve then converted these into percentages because I include added time, which means that every club will have a slightly different total number of minutes played. I’ve then ranked clubs by the difference between the share of time they’ve spent winning versus losing, which feels like the fairest way to do it (and also gives you the nice smooth graphs below).
While there are no surprises at the very top, it’s still impressive that Liverpool have only spent 21 minutes trailing this season (after Newcastle took a shock lead). Aston Villa having spent the joint-fourth lowest share of minutes losing is also noteworthy, with their recent hammering of Norwich nudging the Canaries beyond Watford as the top flight club to have spent the most time losing (although the Hornets have spent just 40 minutes in a winning position this term). Daniel Farke’s side have also spent a smaller proportion of their time drawing than any club in the top four divisions.
Preston have won plenty of admirers this season and this graph should add a few more: they’re the only club in the division – and one of only two in the EFL – to have spent more than half of their time in a winning position. Swansea are the only club to have spent less time losing: only 117 minutes in total. Derby fans may be disappointed with their start to the season, but only two clubs have spent a greater share of time in the lead so far. While Stoke and Reading have looked better than their league position this season [link], there’s not getting away from how much more time they’ve spent losing than winning.
Just like Preston in the division above, Ipswich have spent far more time in the lead than anyone else this season. The Tractor Boys have also trailed for just 73 minutes: around half an hour of their 2-2 draw at Peterborough and the rest in a 2-1 home win over Wimbledon where they came from behind. I was surprised to see that Bolton weren’t bottom of this list after their chaotic start, but thanks to the Trotters’ tenacity in keeping the scores level it’s only Tranmere fans who have had to witness their side trailing for more than half of their minutes on the pitch. Rotherham sitting 13th in the league table is strange given how much more time they’ve spent winning than losing. It’s worth pointing out that Doncaster have spent more time drawing than any club in the top four divisions: almost two thirds of their playing time in the league so far.
There are no standout performers in the fourth tier at the moment, with Northampton the only club who have spent more than a third of their time in the lead. Along with the Cobblers, Walsall, Macclesfield and Salford find themselves in the bottom half despite having spent more time in front than behind. Conversely it’s interesting to see that Crewe sit fourth in the league table despite having trailed for longer than they’ve led so far.