Which English Football League is the most “predictable” in 2018/19?

After watching their defender boot the ball out of the stadium, or the centre forward hit the corner flag with a shot from the edge of the box, lower league football fans can reassure themselves that the reason they turn up at dilapidated stadiums each week instead of the Emirates or Stamford Bridge really is because the Premier League is just too “predictable” (boring).

At least, that is what an unqualified comparison of the Model’s forecasts and actual outcomes so far this season suggests.

[There are many better ways to answer this question, e.g using a range of forecasts including bookmaker odds, or using the forecast density of all possible outcomes rather than just point forecasts. And not least because we have in fact tinkered with our Model design all season (probably making it worse) But you would probably just get a similar result anyhow… let us know if you don’t!]

The table below compares the Model’s forecast performance across all the English Football Leagues and Women’s Super League so far this season (up to date as of 12 noon, 2nd December).

The Model has forecast correctly 53% of results in the Premier League, the third highest of all six leagues looked at, only bettered by the relatively more “predictable” Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship. The worst forecasting performance by the Model has been in League One with just 40% of results correct, closely followed by the Championship with 41%.

In terms of exact scorelines, the Premier League is the most “predictable” in England, with 13% of match scores being forecast exactly right by the Model. Despite being the most predictable in terms of results, the Women’s Super League is least predictable in terms of exact scorelines, probably explained by the high variance of goals scored across matches.

In terms of average “Lawro” points per game, which in effect put weights on getting the correct result relative to also getting the correct scoreline in any match with a single forecast, the Premier League is comfortably the most “predictable”, with on average 9.5 points per game achieved by the Model so far this season (note, tipsters Mark Lawrenson and Paul Merson perform similarly highly on this metric at 8.1 and 9.6 points per game, respectively).

Scores (%) Results (%) “Lawro” p.p.g. # matches
Premier League 13% 53% 9.5 137
Championship 11% 41% 7.8 238
League One 5% 40% 5.6 237
League Two 12% 44% 8.1 237
Women’s SL 4% 73% 8.6 49
Women’s Champ 8% 56% 7.5 48
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