Leeds United now have a 99% chance of promotion
13 Jul 2020 07:08 pm, by YorkshireSquare
With just three games remaining of the 2019-2020 Championship season it is amazing to think that there is not a single club mathematically guaranteed to be in the division next season. Four clubs remain in the hunt for automatic promotion, a further ten still have their hopes set on the play-off places whilst the remaining ten teams could all mathematically be relegated. However much you desire to gain promotion back to the Premier League there is no denying that the Championship is the most competitive and exciting league in Europe.
Leeds, West Brom, Brentford and Fulham are the teams in line for the top spots. The heart was still pounding and the nerves frayed for Leeds fans on Sunday morning but a late 88th minute winner from Pablo Hernandez against Swansea leaves Leeds needing just four points to seal automatic promotion and seven to be crowned champions. With the memories of last season still fairly fresh in the minds of Leeds fans we know it’s not job done yet, but if we look an objective view what are our chances of finishing the job off? We looked at the statistical analysis from Expermental 3-6-1 and FiveThirtyEight to see where they thought Leeds would finish off this season.
Experimental 3-6-1 use E ratings, a way of tracking each club’s attacking and defensive strength over time. They use the same “expected goals” concept familiar in a lot of football analysis these days, where every shot taken and faced is given a value based on how likely shots of that type go in. By adding up all these values they work out how many goals each club “should” be scoring and conceding. This has been shown to be a more reliable measure of a team’s underlying strength than treating all of their shots equally. Each club’s current ratings and those of their remaining opponents has been used to predict how the rest of the season will unfold.
Their model predicts the top four ending up much as they are now with Leeds United having a very strong probability of being crowned champions. Fulham look to be dead certs four place but there is a bit more uncertainty around who will grab the second automatic spot. West Brom are favourites, though Brentford have a higher probability of overtaking West Brom than West Brom of overtaking Leeds. With Brentford not having dropped a point since the return it’s easy to see why Leeds fans may still be looking over their shoulders but the pressure is most definitely on West Brom.
At the heart of FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts are SPI ratings, a best estimate of a teams overall strength. In the system, every team has an offensive rating that represents the number of goals they would be expected to score against an average team on a neutral field, and a defensive rating that represents the number of goals it would be expected to concede. These ratings, in turn, produce an overall SPI rating, which represents the percentage of available, the team would be expected to take if that match were played over and over again. Given the ratings for any two teams, they project the result of a match between them.
FiveThirtyEight predict Leeds will bag seven points in their final three games giving them an 89% chance of lifting the title and a 99% chance of gaining promotion. Fulham have an 89% chance of finishing fourth with the battle for second again a closer run thing. Brentford are predicted to pick up just two points from their remaining games with West Brom netting four giving the Baggies a 60% chance of finishing second with Brentford having a 63% chance of finishing third. According to the model Brentford have just a 1% chance of lifting the title and a 29% chance of finishing second. But given the way they have been playing I think it will be much closer run than that.