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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FA Cup, Round 1 (Nov 9-12)

The FA Cup First Round has begun already. The BBC has already shown the first match this Friday evening, and it turns out that after I’ve wrestled with the model for a good hour or more, we would have had a proper score had we got the forecasts done in time. As it is, it’s a “backcast”, but a good one at that – a 1-0 win for AFC Wimbledon.

The ticket in the featured pic is my ticket for Monday night’s game in deepest rugby union country, when Hampton and Richmond Borough take on Oldham. It seems likely to be another 1-0 win for the visiting team (33%).

The highest scoring game looks set to be at Chorley, where the hosts will share 10 goals with their visitors, League One Doncaster Rovers. Unfortunately, the hosts are expected to only score two of those ten (2%)…

Forecast Win (%)
Score PR(%) P(H) P(A)
Haringey B AFC Wimbledon 0-1 36% 17% 61%
Accrington Colchester 1-0 23% 56% 20%
Aldershot Bradford 1-0 0% 48% 26%
Barnsley Notts Co 1-0 3% 66% 14%
Bromley Peterborough 0-1 31% 26% 48%
Bury Dover 1-0 4% 57% 20%
Chesterfield Billericay 0-1 12% 33% 40%
Crewe Carlisle 1-0 2% 41% 32%
Ebbsfleet Cheltenham 1-0 1% 49% 25%
Exeter Blackpool 0-1 14% 35% 37%
Gillingham Hartlepool 1-0 5% 48% 26%
Grimsby MK Dons 0-1 6% 27% 46%
Lincoln Northampton 1-0 18% 50% 25%
Luton Wycombe 1-0 7% 53% 22%
Maidenhead Portsmouth 0-1 18% 18% 59%
Maidstone Macclesfield 1-0 0% 41% 31%
Met. Police Newport Co 0-1 6% 17% 60%
Morecambe Halifax 1-0 4% 41% 32%
Oxford Forest Green 1-0 8% 52% 23%
Plymouth Stevenage 1-0 1% 49% 25%
Rochdale Gateshead 1-0 28% 57% 20%
Scunthorpe Burton 1-0 2% 36% 36%
Southend Crawley 1-0 6% 58% 19%
Southport Boreham W 0-1 14% 21% 54%
Sutton Utd Slough 2-0 10% 56% 20%
Swindon York 1-0 5% 61% 17%
Torquay Woking 1-0 9% 43% 30%
Tranmere Oxford C 1-0 12% 64% 16%
Walsall Coventry 1-0 19% 40% 32%
Yeovil Stockport 1-0 17% 50% 25%
Alfreton Fleetwood 0-1 16% 19% 58%
Barnet Bristol R 0-1 16% 32% 40%
Chorley Doncaster 2-8 2% 30% 43%
Guiseley Cambridge U 0-1 10% 26% 47%
Hitchin Solihull M 0-1 4% 16% 62%
Mansfield Charlton 1-0 11% 37% 36%
Port Vale Sunderland 0-1 7% 23% 52%
Shrewsbury Salford 1-0 21% 42% 31%
Weston S-M. Wrexham 0-1 1% 18% 59%
Hampton and R Oldham 0-1 33% 34% 39%

Final League Table Forecasts

We have updated the final league table forecasts (below) using all the information from matches before today (19th October).

These can be compared against our previous forecasts from before a ball was kicked this season, giving an idea of which teams are performing above/below expectations. See here.

Most likely final position and chances of: winning the title, Champions League qualification, relegation, automatic promotion and making at least the playoffs:

English Premier League, 2018/19

Most likely pos.
August October Title % CL % Rel %
1 1 Man City 98.3 100 0
2 2 Liverpool 1.6 100 0
6 3 Chelsea 0.1 99.7 0
3 4 Tottenham 0 84.3 0
2 5 Man Utd 0 10 0
6 6 Arsenal 0 6 0
15 7 Bournemouth 0 0 0
10 8 Wolves 0 0 0
17 9 Watford 0 0 0
7 10 Leicester 0 0 0
18 11 Brighton 0 0 0.2
9 12 Fulham 0 0 0.4
12 12 Everton 0 0 0.4
16 15 West Ham 0 0 8.5
14 15 C Palace 0 0 8.1
11 16 Burnley 0 0 14.5
16 17 Southampton 0 0 24.4
14 18 Newcastle 0 0 43.6
20 19 Huddersfield 0 0 99.9
7 20 Cardiff 0 0 100

EFL Championship

Most likely pos.
August   October Title % AP % Poffs % Rel %
7 1 Middlesbro 78.2 95.6 100 0
3 2 West Brom 13.4 68.4 100 0
11 3 Leeds 7.6 29.5 99.6 0
8 4 Brentford 0.7 5.3 98.2 0
9 5 Sheff Utd 0.1 0.9 86.8 0
22 6 Nottm Forest 0 0.2 17.3 0
2 6 Swansea 0 0.1 22.9 0
16 6 Wigan 0 0 18.6 0
3 8 Aston Villa 0 0 14.5 0
18 9 Sheff Wed 0 0 12.2 0
5 10 Bristol C 0 0 8.7 0
1 12 Stoke 0 0 9.9 0
14 13 Blackburn 0 0 4.7 0
5 14 Derby 0 0 5.9 0
19 15 Norwich 0 0 0.2 0
24 16 Birmingham 0 0 0.5 0.3
12 17 Preston 0 0 0 0
15 18 Millwall 0 0 0 0.4
23 19 Bolton 0 0 0 5.1
22 20 QPR 0 0 0 11.5
18 21 Rotherham 0 0 0 50.9
15 22 Hull 0 0 0 65.9
20 23 Reading 0 0 0 73.1
14 24 Ipswich 0 0 0 92.8

EFL League One

August October Title % AP % Poffs % Rel %
3 1 Peterboro 34% 56% 91% 0%
6 1 P’mouth 22% 41% 83% 0%
1 3 S’land 13% 25% 74% 0%
21 3 Accringtn 8% 18% 61% 0%
10 4 Doncaster 8% 18% 66% 0%
17 5 Fleetwood 8% 19% 66% 0%
24 8 Luton 3% 8% 42% 0%
3 8 S’thorpe 1% 4% 28% 0%
9 9 Burton 3% 6% 38% 0%
22 10 Rochdale 0% 1% 15% 0%
2 11 Barnsley 0% 1% 12% 0%
8 12 Blackpool 1% 2% 14% 0%
19 14 Walsall 0% 0% 5% 0%
3 15 Charlton 0% 0% 3% 2%
17 15 Oxford 0% 0% 1% 2%
11 16 Southend 0% 0% 1% 2%
12 17 Bristol R 0% 0% 1% 8%
18 19 AFC W 0% 0% 0% 11%
1 19 Shr’bury 0% 0% 0% 15%
24 21 Coventry 0% 0% 0% 48%
24 21 Wycombe 0% 0% 0% 45%
19 22 G’ham 0% 0% 0% 69%
8 23 Bradford 0% 0% 0% 99%
9 24 Plymouth 0% 0% 0% 100%

EFL League Two

August October Title % AP % Poffs % Rel %
6 1 Lincoln 94% 99% 100% 0%
16 2 Yeovil 2% 47% 88% 0%
21 2 Tranmere 1% 31% 75% 0%
9 2 Carlisle 2% 46% 88% 0%
3 3 MK Dons 1% 33% 77% 0%
24 7 Crewe 0% 9% 45% 0%
5 7 Mansfield 0% 7% 39% 0%
15 9 FGR 0% 7% 33% 0%
9 11 Exeter 0% 5% 31% 0%
2 11 Oldham 0% 5% 32% 0%
21 11 Crawley 0% 5% 34% 0%
12 12 Stevenage 0% 3% 20% 0%
10 14 Swindon 0% 2% 15% 0%
1 14 Bury 0% 1% 11% 0%
10 15 Colchester 0% 1% 7% 0%
5 16 Notts Co 0% 0% 5% 0%
14 18 Newport 0% 0% 0% 4%
22 19 Morcambe 0% 0% 0% 13%
4 20 Nhampton 0% 0% 0% 15%
24 20 Grimsby 0% 0% 0% 18%
19 21 Cmbridge 0% 0% 0% 17%
17 21 Port Vale 0% 0% 0% 24%
11 24 Chelt’ham 0% 0% 0% 53%
21 24 Macc 0% 0% 0% 56%

Lower Leagues, R11 (October 2-3)

Just as the Championship provides that grittier, more real sense of football compared to the shiny glistening Champions League, so the English Football League’s lower divisions provide that in yet more spades. Seven former Premier League teams grace League One, and three in League Two (if we count MK Dons), so there’s still plenty of faded glory on show.

Sunderland hope to overturn Peterborough and turn their solid start into a serious start to a promotion campaign. The Model expects a 2-1 win (9%) for Sunderland. Portsmouth, another of those ex-Premier League teams, are expected to visit another former-Premier League stalwart in Coventry, and bring home the points with a 1-0 win (13%).

Forecast Win (%)
League One Score PR(%) P(H) P(A)
Accrington Doncaster 1-1 13% 39% 32%
AFC W’don Bradford 1-0 11% 44% 28%
Barnsley Plymouth 1-0 13% 58% 18%
Burton Southend 1-0 11% 48% 25%
Coventry Portsmouth 0-1 13% 30% 42%
Fleetwood Wycombe 1-0 10% 47% 25%
Gillingham Blackpool 1-1 13% 32% 39%
Oxford Luton 1-1 12% 34% 37%
Rochdale Bristol R 1-0 10% 43% 29%
Scunthorpe Charlton 1-1 13% 38% 33%
Sunderland Peterboro 2-1 9% 43% 29%
Walsall Shrewsbury 1-0 7% 45% 27%

Apart from Lincoln who have started like a house on fire, League Two features a very tight pack, from Colchester in 5th place on 16 points, down to Port Vale in 16th place on 14 points. One win can make all the difference, and equally one defeat can see a team plummet down the standings. Colchester (5th, 16 pts) face Yeovil (12th, 15 pts) in one such match, and The Model expects Colchester to maintain their loftier position with a 1-0 win (18%). Sixth place Oldham (16 points) head to 14th placed Mansfield (14 points), and The Model thinks Oldham may well hurtle down the standings on Tuesday evening after a 2-1 defeat (8%).

Forecast Win (%)
League Two Score PR(%) P(H) P(A)
Cambridge Forest Grn 0-1 8% 31% 40%
Carlisle Grimsby 1-0 18% 55% 20%
Cheltenham Morecambe 1-0 15% 46% 26%
Colchester Yeovil 1-0 18% 42% 29%
Crewe Swindon 1-1 9% 37% 34%
Exeter Stevenage 1-0 10% 52% 22%
Mansfield Oldham 2-1 8% 40% 31%
Newport Co Macclesfield 1-0 13% 51% 22%
N’hampton Bury 1-1 12% 35% 36%
Notts Co Crawley 1-1 8% 37% 34%
Port Vale MK Dons 0-0 24% 34% 37%
Tranmere Lincoln 0-0 18% 32% 39%

 

The Big One!

OLDHAM-ATHLETIC-vs-DERBY-COUNTY-91-92

The revolving page header images and the pseudonyms used may have alerted you to the reality that one of the Scorecasting Economists follows Derby County, and the other Oldham Athletic. It’s been a little while since these two old footballing stagers faced each other, and judging by this footage, this might have been for the good of the game. Nonetheless, one hundred years ago Derby regularly faced Oldham in the top flight. In the 1980s and 1990s it was a regular second division fixture. These days it’s only a reasonably regular League Cup fixture, as the game taking place at Boundary Park tonight is the third League Cup meeting in the last 16 years, second in the last six (plus the match of the pictured match programme from October 1991).

Derby’s stuttering start under Frank Lampard won’t stutter enough for them to be embarrassed at League Two Oldham, however. With a 10% chance the 1-0 win Derby recorded in 2013 will be repeated, but more broadly, Derby have a 68% chance of winning.

More generally, we’ve expanded  our forecasts a little, as an attempt to better capture promoted and relegated sides and their fortunes. A side effect of this is that we can forecast cup matches like the League Cup. We’ll write another post on this endeavour shortly…