Thursday 15 September 2016

The Championship After 7 Games.

The English second tier makes good use of the early season midweek to cram in as many matches as possible. Already teams have played nearly twice as many league matches as their Premier League counterparts and around 1/8 of the season is already in the record books.

The division is often more chaotic than the Premier League, boasting four additional sides and six new members each year by way of relegation from the top tier and promotion from the third.

So there is potentially a big gulf in class between the strongest teams in the division, represented by Premier League regulars on a brief excursion to pastures new, such as Newcastle and under resourced over achievers with a recent history of non league football, such as Burton.

However, these financial mismatches often mask a bulk of the division where resources and abilities are broadly similar and the difference between a push for the playoffs or an anxious spring spent looking downwards can be as much down to the vagaries of luck as it is to the careful assembly of talent.

In the tables below, I've simulated the remainder of the season, based largely on a weighted combination of each team's expected goals created and allowed so far in 2016/17 and their expected goals performances from the previous season.

The points won in each iteration is then added to the actual points they've won so far to chart the % likelihood that each team will finish in a particular position in May.

                                       Simulated Final League Positions After Seven Games.

The preseason bullishness about the chances of Newcastle returning instantly to the Premier League, not just as a promoted team but as champions, is even more apparent after seven games. they spent the first couple of matches at the foot of the early table, but now have top spot firmly in their sights.

A slow drift in the early market has been reversed and they are a shade of odds on to be crowned champions in May, a sentiment endorsed by the simulations.

Early pacesetters, Huddersfield are most likely to finish in the final playoff spot, but in common with many sides their range of possible finishing positions spans much of the table.  Their accumulated chances make them more likely than not to miss any kind of post season shot a promotion.

Wolves are as likely to finish top as they are to finish bottom, although neither outcome is very likely.

Around a third of the sides are probably looking at a bottom half finish as their most likely final resting place, amongst them newly promoted Burton and premier League and European giants of the past, Leeds and Nottingham Forest.

Of the other relegated teams, Norwich are strongly expected to join Newcastle with an immediate return either automatically or via a playoff attempt, while Villa are posting the kind of position spreads that would have been acceptable to their fans in the Premier League, but not in the lower tier.

Tinges of green hint at the prospect of decent seasons for Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol City and less so for Rotherham.

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