Are things starting to take shape? In League One, big boys Wigan have started with two defeats, so have defeated play-off finalists Oxford, while favourites Portsmouth have only drawn their opening matches.
In League Two, Cambridge have started like a house on fire (again). What does it all mean? Well, you can look at the chance in end-of-season probabilities here if you’re interested – the bottom line is we’re only 4% through the season. Lots left to be determined…
So what about today, game week 3? Here are our forecasts:
Last week in the Premier League produced the highest scoring weekend, where 10 matches were played. https://www.premierleague.com/news/1837431
Can the high scoring weekend be repeated? Well, there are quite a few clear win predictions across the model.
Clear wins are predicted for Man Utd away to Brighton, Man City at home against Leicester (despite Man City now having no fit striker), Liverpool v Arsenal, Tottenham v Newcastle, and Chelsea away to West Brom.
The model has predicted in-form Crystal Palace to beat Everton but betting companies have Everton as clear winners.
We plan to issue regular end-of-season forecasts this season. Not least, because that’s what all fans are ultimately bothered about – what each match means for their chances of going up or down.
As an Oldham fan I’m significantly exercised by two opening defeats in two games that should have yielded some points. Should I be?
The answer, of course, is probably not. The first two matrices below are for League Two. The first is before the opening matches, and the second is after the first two matches.
Each cell in each matrix is a probability of a team finishing in that position. As would be expected, there’s a huge spread of possible positions for teams – though the teams more likely to be at the top and bottom are clear in the matrices – we’d expect Exeter to be nearer the top, and Morcambe to be nearer the bottom.
Teams with momentum look good – Harrogate and Barrow, though naturally that’s dissipating a bit after two games – despite solid starts by both. Teams dropping like lead balloons equally, as Bolton and Southend are expected to struggle. Tranmere buck that a little.
Southend’s miserable start has had consequences. They go from 23.4% for the drop to 31.3%, a considerable jump in two games this early. Oldham have only moved from 7.8% to 11.2%, which while worrying is only a small change. After all, only about 4% of the season has been played.
Perhaps you’re more concerned about League One, and so below are the two matrices for League One:
We posted our pre-season forecasts here, and the stand out pick was Everton for relegation. Models are only a function of the data going into them, and for our slimmed down model to simulate, pre-season transfer activity wasn’t in there. But their Elo rating after last season wasn’t particularly high, hence they weren’t expected to rip up trees.
We’ve updated based on the first two game weeks. Everton are now only 25% for the drop, with more likely candidates Brighton (30%), Fulham (31%), West Ham (36%) and West Brom (41%) with higher probabilities.
At the top, Liverpool are 45.5% for the title and favourites, Man City at 36.6%. It already looks like it’s a two-horse race – our probabilities reflect this, the early results suggest it, and the bookmakers agree. Note though that the bookies have City as clear favourites (about 54% to Liverpool’s 39%).
In the Championship this week, despite teams playing to an empty stadium, it looks like home teams seem to have an edge overall.
The only away result in week 3 that looks slightly likely is a Swansea win against Wycombe Wanderers and even that looks like it will be close.
Of the three teams that have managed to win both games so far (Reading, Bristol City and Luton) only Bristol City against Sheffield Wednesday are predicted to keep their winning streak.
Being Reading-based economists, we’re delighted to see that Reading have made a strong start to the season – two wins out of two, highly unexpected too. Well, the Barnsley win was expected, but not the Derby win.
Unexpected since before the Derby game our pre-season forecasts had them with only a 5.4% chance of promotion.
How have things changed then after those opening two matches? The answer is: not all that much. Reading are now 6.9% for promotion, so a small tick up. See below for all the updates before tonight’s match at Huddersfield:
It’s not surprising since only 2 of 46 matches have been completed. A mere 4% of the season. Another 2% this weekend, and maybe we’ll see some more incremental movements in probabilities…
This week sees the Manchester teams return to Premiership action, as well as Burnley and Aston Villa.
Of the two, United look more likely to win at home to Palace with Man City having a tougher task away to Wolves.
An Aston Villa victory is just about possible against Sheffield United, whilst Leicester are predicted to beat Burnley.
If Tottenham had signed Ings (or was that just speculation?) then they would surely have had a greater edge against Southampton.
Elsewhere the other games that look interesting are:
In-form Arsenal look likely to get at least twice as many goals as West Ham (a team that definitely needs something – a takeover?) and newly promoted teams Leeds and Fulham face off in a game Leeds are predicted to win.
Chelsea v Liverpool looks like a close affair but each side is predicted to score, will big-spending Chelsea be able to compete with the champions?
The second strangest season ever (last season stranger, at least for now) continues today in English football’s lower leagues. Some pilot trials are running with up to a thousand fans at a match in a number of places where the local area situation permits.
But what’s going to happen?
In League One, a lot of tight matches in prospect, but then this is the start of the season. The raw statistics don’t always reflects the changes that have taken place over a usual summer, let alone this Covid-19 summer. Portsmouth look fancied at Rochdale, certainly by the bookmakers, but a little less by our model.
In League Two, will Bolton continue their troubled start? They travel to Colchester. Two of the weakest starters, Carlisle and Southend, meet in the North. Both defences have looked all at sea, without any goals scored. What will happen when they meet?
This is a week in the Championship that seems to just about favour the home teams (exceptions being Bournemouth and it’s very close but also Millwall). As things kick off tonight, Coventry seem likely to do well in tonight’s game against QPR.
Can Reading repeat their win last week with a first home win of the season against Barnsley? Maybe but it looks close.
If we look at expected goals, the most obvious standout matches are Brentford v Huddersfield and Swansea v Birmingham.
Brentford are expected to get almost 2 goals to Huddersfield’s less than 1 and Swansea look likely to get twice as many as Birmingham.
Football Leagues One and Two return to action today – the first time these divisions have played without fans. Evidence suggests it won’t make that much difference to outcomes…
Here are the forecasts: