A typical English league game

A while ago I posted the attacking events in a typical premier league game. I’ve started to work my way through data from the next three tiers of English football so I thought I’d look at the ‘typical’ game for each of the leagues. Firstly, how the results are split up:

League % Home wins % Draws % Away wins
Premiership 47.2 25.7 27.1
Championship 44.5 27.6 27.8
League One 44.8 27.1 28.0
League Two 43.7 28.0 28.3

So the Premiership has the largest proportion of wins and the largest proportion of home wins along with the smallest proportion of both draws and away wins. As we descend the divisions the general pattern is a significant decrease in home wins which is compensated for by an increase in draws and a smaller increase in away wins. I think the larger amount of wins in the premiership suggests a larger gulf in quality between the best and worst teams.

Next I’ll take a look at the attacking numbers and see what they tell us.

League Goals Shots on target Total shots Sh%
Premiership 2.59 11.9 22.7 21.8
Championship 2.57 11.2 21.8 22.9
League One 2.62 10.7 21.0 24.5
League Two 2.55 10.5 20.7 24.3

The most shots (on target and total) are seen in the premiership and the numbers fall in a pretty uniform manner as the divisions are descended. What stays the same is the number of goals scored as Sh% becomes significantly higher the further down the divisions we go. There are multiple different reasons that could account for this and there’s a couple that come to my head. Firstly they may suggest that the fall-off in the quality of attacking players is less than the fall-off in quality of defensive players but this doesn’t agree with the pattern of transfer fees (if this theory were true there would be fewer good defensive players (low supply) and thus their fees would be higher than for good attacking players (who would be in plentiful supply) but in reality the opposite is true). A second is that the style of play is different as the quality of play is lowered, leading to higher quality chances. I can’t think of a way to test either of these with the data I have so it will have to remain speculation for now.

Now to look at the data split for home and away teams. The numbers are in the format ‘home v away (delta)’, where delta (△) is simply home minus away to show the difference.

League Goals Shots on target Total shots Sh%
Premiership – H v A (△) 1.51 v 1.09 (0.42) 6.8 v 5.1 (1.7) 12.9 v 9.8 (3.1) 22.1 v 21.4 (0.7)
Championship – H v A (△) 1.46 v 1.11 (0.35) 6.3 v 4.9 (1.4) 12.2 v 9.6 (2.6) 23.3 v 22.4 (0.9)
League One – H v A (△) 1.49 v 1.13 (0.36) 6.0 v 4.7 (1.3) 11.8 v 9.2 (2.6) 24.8 v 24.2 (0.6)
League Two – H v A (△) 1.45 v 1.10 (0.35) 5.9 v 4.6 (1.3) 11.6 v 9.1 (2.5) 24.5 v 24.1 (0.4)

This table explains nicely the table of results above, that the biggest home advantage is seen in the premiership and pretty even in the three other leagues. I can’t really think of a solid reason to explain this, it may be due to tactics but I’m not sure there’s a plausible explanation of how that would work.

And that’s the average league game in English football. It turns out if you want to see the most shots, saves and a home win you should watch a premiership match, whereas if you are a travelling fan then league two offers the best chance to see your team win (although the difference is pretty small – one extra win per three seasons compared to the premiership).


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