If you have checked out Beesotted recently, you may have noticed the input from our new correspondent David Anderson (@DavidAnderson_1).
David takes a very analytical approach to football as you can check on the articles on his website.
This week on the Beesotted radio show (click below), we were discussing Brentford’s upturn in fortune and mentioned the infamous (in the stats world) justice table.
So what exactly is the justice table?
Being a non-statty person who is very interested in analysing football in all sorts of different ways, I found the concept very interesting.
But for me it is important to always have it broken down in laymans terms.
The problem with stats is .. because it is often explained in quite a way which makes it sound so technical, it becomes incomprehensible for the average Jo or Josephine ….
There are many articles in the press where they scoff at the ‘Smart Odds statistically modelled league table’. This is a league table where they arrange teams in positions according to statistical performance as opposed the ‘real’ table. The feeling is this table gives the stats people more of an idea of how teams will perform in the future based on the information to hand.
So for example, if Brentford are 18th in the league table but in his statistically modelled table, they are placed 8th, the belief is over time, Brentford are more likely to be moving towards the 8th position than 21st if all the teams in the table perform as they are doing currently.
Sounds like a load of olde tosh?
The table never lies I hear you say.
That is so true.
And these arguments are valid I guess if you if you are taking a snapshot of where we are now.
But football is ever moving. Things change all the time.
I well never forget a couple of seasons ago when I got a call from one of my Reading chums. Reading were flying high in the Championship at the time – sitting 3rd in the playoff zone and were having a great season. That season Brentford thumped Reading 4-1 at Griffin Park in September. In the return match, we lost 3-2 in a gripping match at The Madjeski – Reading scoring two late-ish goals to grab victory.
My reading pal said to me after that match
“I have no idea how we beat you as you were brilliant. I also have no idea why you are so low in the league”.
A month or so later he called me again and said
“A friend of mine who works in betting told me Reading were rated 18th in the ‘stats world Championship table. We are in reality in the top six. What a load of nonsense”
I made a few phone calls and found out indeed, Reading were actually rated 18th in the ‘stats world’ – a full 15 places lower than they were actually in.
When I asked why that was, I was told
“Because they have had an enormous amount of luck this season. The vast majority of chances they have created – which are not Grade A quality chances – have come off for them. It is unlikely they will be able to continue with this luck over a longer period of time”
Needless to say, they never won the playoffs that season. And the following season, they were struggling with relegation.
Reading’s luck had evened out over a longer period of time.
It has to be said that Leeds that season were also flagged by the same ‘statto’ as having an inflated league position (they were in the playoff positions at the time) and the prediction was that they would drop off – which they did.
Meanwhile, Wolves came very high in the stats model that season (off the top of my head I believe the figure was 5th or 4th). They finished 15th that year.
I have to admit, I was a very dubious at the end of that season. Reading narrowly lost out in the playoff final. Wolves were modelled as being one of the top teams. Even we finished higher than Wolves.
It was only the following season where Reading showed their true form and Wolves’ went on the up in terms of their league position, I started to take more note.
So I come back to The Justice League.
What exactly is it?
We discussed this at the back end of the Beesotted Radio Show this week
According to David, it is a table based on a completely different set of stats which pits the position of each team in the league based on the quality of chances created as opposed to actual goals scored.
Sounds like absolute poppycock you say.
Yes. And no.
It’s not gospel. Nothing is gospel.
But what it does do is give a snapshot of where teams are HIGHLY LIKELY to be in the future if they carry on with the same pattern of play and the teams around them do the same.
There are many different tables based on slightly different information but they broadly measure the same thing. I have posted one below.
The table from infogol pitts each Championship club against the position they are EXPECTED to be in based on performance. The number on the left is the actual position. the number in the coloured box is the expected position. It assesses the chances a team creates and concedes in each match and simulates the chance of getting each result to estimate the number of points they could expect to get given their performances
Brentford currently lie at 17th in the Championship table. However according to the stats world, they should be closer to 7th.
But we aren’t for various reasons. Bad luck. Not taking the very good chances created. Letting in goals which should never been conceded (cue defensive errors).
In almost every stat chart Leeds United (1st in the league) are top. And according to the justice league stats, their position is justified.
In short. They create a high number of good chances that are likely to be converted (think of a shot on the six yard line with just the keeper to beat). Whereas this is balanced up by the chances conceded.
Ipswich (24th in both tables). Bolton (23rd in the league. 22nd in performance). And Reading (22nd in the league. 23rd in performance) look nailed on to continue their struggles with only Rotherham (21st in both tables) looking to possibly dip into those relegation spots.
Norwich (2nd place in the stats world and 3rd place in reality) are also doing roughly as expected.
West Brom (3rd in the table. 5th on performance) are slightly over-performing but look a good bet for promotion.
Sheffield United (4th in the table. 2nd in performance) are actually underperforming slightly but are looking good for promotion
And Boro (5th in the league. 4th in performance) are looking spot on for where they are
After that is where thing start to open up.
Derby County with their expansive footballing style find themselves 6th in the real table. However their performance pits them at 17th and is very much reminiscent of Reading a few seasons ago.
Everything seems to come off for them.
Harry Wilson has been in sensational form – scoring 12 goals. Many of those goals are spectacular long distance efforts and free kicks. There is no denying that Wilson is a talent. And these goals have benefitted Derby massively. But the question is – can he keep it up over the season?
The fact is if he keeps up his scoring rate and continues to score goals from outside the box with teams not working a way to counter his threat then the Derby will undoubtedly keep in with a promotion shout.
Hull City are another interesting one. Their league position matches their performance position (8th). On 24th November, Hull lost at home to Forest and were firmly entrenched in the relegation zone in 23rd position. Their turnaround has been remarkable.
Looking at the table, there are couple of teams that Brentford should be looking on taking out if we continue our current form.
Swansea City (9th in the table. 14th in performance). Blackburn (10th in the table. 19th in performance) and Nottingham Forest (12t in the table. 18th in performance) immediately come to mind. Sheffield Wednesday (16th in the table. 20th in performance) seem to be also punching.
Meanwhile Millwall (19th real. 11th performance) and Wigan (20th real. 9th performance) would feel hard done by by their lowly position.
The majority of other teams are placed in the right position there or there abouts. So it’s not impossible, if the Bees continue playing the way they have, to see Brentford rear it’s head in the top half of the table come March.
As I said earlier, we had a brief discussion of the Justice league this week on the Beesotted LoveSport Radio show (Monday night 9pm on LoveSport Radio). And we have already had loads of requests to cover this further.
So give us two or three weeks and we will get David – who can explain this far better than I can – in again and we will spend a little more time assessing the potential future league table. And to top it up, David will continue to follow the updated table every few weeks and report on it both on Beesotted blog here and on the Podcast/radio show.
And more interestingly if Brentford continue their current form, we look forward to the predictions of where we could find ourselves in the next few months.
If Hull City could do it this season and Fulham last, who knows eh?
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