Friday 30 September 2011

Measuring the Fun in Football.

The win probability for each team is tracked on a minute by minute basis throughout each game.At any point in a game a team will have a probability of winning the game outright and an associated probability of drawing the game.By multiplying the probability of winning the game by 3 and the probability of drawing by 1 and adding the results together you will get an expected longterm average for the number of points that team will achieve from that position or Expected Points (EP) for short.

Expected Points graphs do a very good job of illustrating the ebbs of flows of a soccer match and the large swings caused by the relatively rare occurance of a goal is particularly evident.However,they can also be used to quantify more subjective aspect of a game such as entertainment value.

There are a number of factors that contribute towards a game being more or less entertaining and these can be captured by reference to an EP Graph.Swings in fortunes during the game,late winners,spirited comebacks and impressive performances by an unfancied underdog each can contribute towards making a game worth watching and all can be tracked.

While it would be possible to track all of the movements in EP during the match,it's much more useful to be able to simply and quickly get an idea of how eventful a game has been by just looking at the EP graph.One such method is to sum each team's highest EP during the game and divide it by the sum of each teams lowest EP during the 90 minutes.

Under this approach the ManU Basel 3-3 draw scores an Entertainment Value (EV) of around 23.ManU's highest Expected Points Value was almost 3 just after Welbeck's second goal,Basel's was just under 2.6 in the 89th minute just prior to Young's equaliser.United's EP was at a low of 0.24 and Basel's was 0.01.A similarly switchback game where Blackburn came from behind to defeat Arsenal 4-3 earlier this month scores an EV of 14.

Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal,full of incidents and a great come from behind win and a Entertainment Value of 14

By contrast,Tottenham's wide margin all the way 4-0 win over Liverpool scores an EV of just over 3,as does Swansea's 3-0 canter verses WBA.The Welsh side's dour 0-0 draw with Sunderland totals only 1.3.

Little incident in a fairly standard goalless draw for a EV of 1.3

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