Scorecasting Economists

League Two, Round 5 (August 24)

A full set of fixtures in League Two sees a West(ish) Country Derby between Cheltenham and Swindon, where RED and the bookmakers differ significantly on their view of the game.

The bookmakers are apparently more influenced by the hype surrounding their start to the season, relative to the substance. RED takes into account the results, and the results plus home advantage for Cheltenham yield expected goals of 1.5 for Cheltenham to only 1.1 for Swindon, meaning Ritchie Wellens’s side only has a 27% chance of winning relative to the bookmakers who put this at 41%.

Similarly, RED offers an alternative when it comes to Macclesfield against Scunthorpe. The visitors have started badly after relegation; they may be the “bigger” club, but Macclesfield have started strongly after finishing last season strongly. For RED it points towards a home win (50.5%), 1-0 the most likely such result (11.5%), but the bookmakers have Macc only at 32.4%.

Resurgent Cambridge also host sluggish Oldham

Oldham Narrative – Off the Bottom

RED understands football, and so understands that allegiances don’t disappear even when your team hits rock bottom. As such, RED declares its solidarity with the fans of Bury Football Club today, as they face expulsion from the Football League.

As mentioned before, football in Greater Manchester, Manchester City aside, is not in great shape. Oldham secured a goalless draw with Exeter on Tuesday to move off the bottom of the league in perhaps the least spectacular manner imaginable. A clean sheet, however, by a defence that was utterly abject in the previous defeat at Bradford was a significant improvement.

Saturday’s opponents Cambridge United are doing that dangerous thing: looking at the league table in August. Ben Mayhew at experimental361 reckons Cambridge had the toughest start to the season (actually, I think it was Port Vale). But they’ve gone four games unbeaten so far, and sit in third place.

It begs a question; how often has a team in third place after four games been there or higher, in a 24-team division, and also for RED worrying about Oldham, how often has a team second bottom after four games finished there or worse?

These are, of course, empirical questions. Cambridge will be heartened to learn that 29% of the time the team third after four games has finished third or better. Teams that have 8 points, as Cambridge do, have a 27% chance of finishing third or higher.

Oldham will equally be heartened to learn that only 19% of the time has a team in 23rd after four games finished there or lower. Teams that have at least a point at this stage are 5% or less likely to finish 23rd or worse. Crumbs of comfort…

How will things turn out at the Abbey Stadium? RED expects Cambridge to score 1.48 goals, Oldham just the one. As such, a 1-0 home win is just as likely as the always likely 1-1 draw, at 12.4%. The return of David Wheater for Oldham, something RED can’t really factor in given he’s played part of just two matches for Oldham, means it may be a low scoring encounter. A goalless draw is 8.4% likely, and equally likely is Oldham nicking all three points (0-1, 8.4%).

League One, Round 5 (August 24)

League One continues. Though not if you’re a Bury fan, or a Portsmouth or Rotherham fan. Bury can thank their owner and the EFL, whereas Portsmouth and Rotherham fans can thank New Order, the Doves, Ash, Basement Jaxx and other notable acts for disrupting their season.

Otherwise, things carry on, not least for the other crisis team, Bolton. Bookmakers give them just a 3% chance of beating visiting Ipswich Town. RED looks considerably more favourably on their young squad, giving them as much as a 30% chance of winning.

Championship, R5 (24-25 Aug, 2019)

The Championship weekend kicks off with Derby County hosting West Brom at Saturday lunchtime. RED is more generous to Derby than the average bookmaker odds imply, giving them a 42% chance of a win. However, like in most games, the most likely scoreline outcome is 1-1 (13%).

The table below gives the rest of the Model’s forecasts for Round 5 of the English Championship, along with forecast probabilities estimated from current online bookmaker odds.

R5 forecasts of Championship, RED
  • Expected Goals: the forecast average number of goals the Model expects for Home and Away teams
  • Outcome Probs: the model predicted % chance of either a Home or Away win, with 100 minus these two numbers being the % chance of a draw.
  • Score Picks: the Most likely forecast scoreline outcome, as well as the most likely conditional on the most likely result outcome happening.
  • Home wins / Draws / Away wins: the predicted % chance of various potential scoreline outcomes of the match.
  • Mean odds: Estimates of online bookmakers’ average probability forecasts for the Home and Away teams to win, which could be compared with Outcome Probs.

Premier League, R3 (23-25 August) — Liverpool 64% chance of beating Arsenal

RED’s Bi-P-VAR-X model has powered up for R3 of the Premier League.

The weekend begins with a seemingly tight fixture between Aston Villa and Everton on Friday evening. RED says that both teams have expected goals scored in the match of about one and a quarter. Therefore the most likely scoreline outcome is firmly a 1-1 draw (13%). Notably, the current bookmaker average odds favour Everton slightly more than RED does.

Liverpool vs Arsenal looks like the standout fixture this weekend. The latter arguably did the shrewdest business of the transfer window and have so far won both of their opening fixtures. However, Liverpool have also taken 6 points so far, have home advantage and a squad that didn’t need strengthening over the summer. Therefore, RED makes Liverpool firm favourites, with expected goals of to Arsenal’s 0.9, and a home win percentage of 64%, which is almost identical to the bookmakers. The most likely scoreline outcome is 2-0 (11%).

The table below gives the rest of the  Model’s forecasts for Round 3 of the Premier League, along with forecast probabilities estimated from current online bookmaker odds.

R3 Forecasts of Premier League, RED
  • Expected Goals: the forecast average number of goals the Model expects for Home and Away teams
  • Outcome Probs: the model predicted % chance of either a Home or Away win, with 100 minus these two numbers being the % chance of a draw.
  • Score Picks: the Most likely forecast scoreline outcome, as well as the most likely conditional on the most likely result outcome happening.
  • Home wins / Draws / Away wins: the predicted % chance of various potential scoreline outcomes of the match.
  • Mean odds: Estimates of online bookmakers’ average probability forecasts for the Home and Away teams to win, which could be compared with Outcome Probs.

RED in Europe Part II(a)

Off the back of last week’s foray into Europe, RED carries on this week. The Italian season begins, too.

With such a large number of forecasts being made this season, it will be sooner that we can begin to provide forecast evaluations – which also differ due to the more probabilistic nature of RED’s forecasts this season.

All the tables below can be interpreted using the following guide:

  • Expected Goals: the forecast average number of goals the Model expects for Home and Away teams
  • Outcome Probs: the model predicted % chance of either a Home or Away win, with 100 minus these two numbers being the % chance of a draw.
  • Score Picks: the Most likely forecast scoreline outcome, as well as the most likely conditional on the most likely result outcome happening.
  • Home wins / Draws / Away wins: the predicted % chance of various potential scoreline outcomes of the match.
  • Mean odds: Estimates of online bookmakers’ average probability forecasts for the Home and Away teams to win, which could be compared with Outcome Probs.
RED’s forecasts for Germany’s Bundesliga
RED’s forecasts for Germany’s Bundesliga 2
RED’s forecasts for Spain’s La Liga
RED’s forecasts for Spain’s La Liga 2
RED’s forecasts for France’s Ligue 1
RED's forecasts for Italy's Serie A
RED’s forecasts for Italy’s Serie A

League Two, Round 4 (August 20)

The beauty of the Football League, compared to its North American counterparts that do without relegation and promotion, is that good management is rewarded, and bad management punished.

As economists we worry greatly about endogeneity that makes attaching causality to things difficult, but by and large, teams that have unstable board rooms, and regularly chop and change managers, don’t tend to do that well. Today’s occupants of the Football League’s basement position, Oldham, fall squarely into that category, with a deeply unpopular owner, and no manager having survived a full season for pushing a decade.

In order that RED’s League Two predictions aren’t always dominated by Oldham, a new narrative has been set up to cover those woes.

Nonetheless, it is an early bottom vs top encounter at Boundary Park as Exeter visit. It’s a long, long journey for the visitors though, and so both RED and the bookmakers point towards a very tight encounter (1-1 at 12.9%, 1-0 at 10.1%, 0-1 at 10.6%).

RED seems more willing than the bookmakers to recognise Cambridge’s solid start, and Scunthorpe’s worrying one. Cambridge 46.9% to win for RED, only 36.9% for the bookmakers. A single-goal win for Cambridge in the Battle of the Uniteds is most likely at 12.7%.

The night’s other intriguing clash is on the South Coast, as Plymouth entertain Salford. The gulf in stature between these two clubs is quite substantial based on recent history, but they meet in the League. Plymouth are 40.7% likely to come out on top, and 8.6% likely to win 2-1.

Towards a team narrative – Oldham

Despite professing otherwise on BBC’s Football Focus last season, RED does have two allegiances, and may soon have more. One of those is Oldham Athletic, in the Football League since 1907, and founder members of the Premier League in 1992.

RED is old enough to remember those heady days of the early 1990s, when two FA Cup Semi-Finals were reached (both against Manchester United, alas), and a League Cup Final. It was always a small club punching above its weight, and the time since has rather confirmed that. Twenty one years in League One from 1997 through to 2018 were unspectacular, and as of Saturday afternoon, Oldham have taken up residence at the bottom of the Football League. 92nd out of 92.

It’s not the first time Oldham have taken up this ignoble position – the last time was November 15 1960, and the team had another tricky spell in the 1969/70 season, occupying 22nd position in Division 4 for much of the season. Below is a time chart of Oldham’s ups and downs over the years (mainly downs since 1990).

RED plans at least two recurring team narratives in the coming season – posts that focus a little more than usual on one team. One will be Oldham as they plumb the depths of the Football League, and the other will be Reading, RED’s nearest current team.

League One, Round 4 (20 August)

League One, whose count of “sleeping giants” seems to be as high now as it’s ever been (surely measurable), continues tonight. With Ipswich, Sunderland, Coventry, Portsmouth and Bolton all slumming it in the division, the lesser lights (sorry, Rochdale) have never had it so good. Dale host Sunderland this evening, and RED, being part Mancunian (again, sorry Rochdale) fancies them (35.8% for the win) against the Rokerites much more than the bookmakers do (24.3%). It’s no surprise a 1-1 draw is the most likely scoreline.

It’s a tricky time for Greater Manchester’s teams at the moment though, with Bolton and Bury’s matches being postponed by the league due to ongoing financial problems at both clubs.

Championship, R4 (20-21 Aug, 2019)

After 3 games already no team in the Championship has a perfect record. Reflecting this, RED is generating forecasts for close games throughout tonight’s and tomorrow’s fixtures. Huddersfield already appear to have been marked as the weakest side in the division by the Model, having already sacked their manager too, and RED suggests Cardiff have a 61% chance of beating them. The other sides with better than a 50% chance of recording a win currently occupy the top three places in the table: Cardiff, West Brom and Leeds.

The table below gives the rest of the Model’s forecasts for Round 4 of the English Championship, along with forecast probabilities estimated from current online bookmaker odds.

Championship R4 probability forecasts, RED
  • Expected Goals: the forecast average number of goals the Model expects for Home and Away teams
  • Outcome Probs: the model predicted % chance of either a Home or Away win, with 100 minus these two numbers being the % chance of a draw.
  • Score Picks: the Most likely forecast scoreline outcome, as well as the most likely conditional on the most likely result outcome happening.
  • Home wins / Draws / Away wins: the predicted % chance of various potential scoreline outcomes of the match.
  • Mean odds: Estimates of online bookmakers’ average probability forecasts for the Home and Away teams to win, which could be compared with Outcome Probs.