Allsvenskan 2016 – The Endgame

Before I continue with another Allsvenskan 2016 update – the last before the season ends – I have some news regarding the blog.

As some of you may know, I’ve been working part time for StrataBet this season, mostly writing game previews for the Norwegian Tippeligaen. As I soon take on a new, full-time job elsewhere I likely won’t have the time to write as much as I want. Also, with my new job focusing on Allsvenskan and Swedish football in general, I may be reluctant to give away too much information to the general public, so the future of this blog is very uncertain.

I’m hoping to continue writing in some form though, and what I do write will likely be closely linked to StrataBet as they’ve given me access to their great dataset.

Allsvenskan 2016 – The Endgame

Ok, so let’s get on with another update. With only 3 rounds left – the next starts tonight – we can see how much of the drama has gone out of the league table since last time. Malmö have retaken the top spot and thanks to Norrköping’s recent poor form the gap down to the title contenders is now 4 points. Sure, both Norrköping and AIK can still theoretically win the title, but I would be very surprised if Malmö let this slip out of their hands, despite the disappointing defeat to Östersund. They do have some disturbing injury problems though…

01

Göteborg have a chance to break into the top-3 and gain a European spot for next season, but this looks even more unlikely with 7 points up to AIK. At the other end of the table the bottom-3 have looked locked in for a long time. Helsingborg still have a chance to overtake Sundsvall, but again I’d be very surprised if this happens. In mid-table we see how Elfsborg, Kalmar and Hammarby have climbed a few spots at the expense of Örebro, Häcken and Östersund.

02

Counting up shots we see how Djurgården surprisingly is the best defensive side when it comes to denying the opposition chances to shoot. We also see how Gefle continue to be very bad and that Örebro still is the main outlier with A LOT of shots both taken and conceded.

03

Looking at effectiveness up front we see few changes since last time. Elfsborg have been slightly more effective with their shooting though, partly explaining their climb in the table. On the other end of the scale, Helsingborg have had a real problem scoring on their chances lately, with ZERO goals since the last update.

04

Looking at defensive effectiveness we see why Djurgården’s ability to deny the opposition chances hasn’t seen them climb into the upper half of the table: They still concede a lot of goals on the chances they do allow. Only bottom-of-the-table Falkenberg are worse. With Malmö and Norrköping’s effectiveness declining since last time, AIK now stands out as the far superior defensive side.

05

Not much have changed in terms of chance quality either – but what is interesting here is that Djurgården is the best defensive side when it come to xG as well. So if they concede very few chances, and very little xG – why are they conceding all those goals? My guess is – I don’t have time to look it up – that the few chances they do concede are of higher quality. Djurgården have also had a lot of problems with goalkeepers this season. Having used 4 keepers so far, only star signing Andreas Isaksson has looked stable enough but he has picked up an injury and will be out for the remainder of the season.

I don’t know much about evaluating goalkeepers but have been thinking about doing a blog post about it for some time now, hopefully I’ll get to it in the near future.

06

Looking at Expected Goals Difference, we see how Djurgården’s lack of defensive effectiveness has robbed them of a nice upper half finish. My model currently ranks them as 5th in the league, close to Hammarby in 4th – far above their current 11th place.

We also see how AIK have overtaken Norrköping in 2nd place, and with the reigning champions in poor form and just 3 points above AIK, this is where most of the drama left in the season lies. At the bottom of the table, Helsingborg are actually ranked far better than Sundsvall above them, but the 7 point gap will likely be too much for Henrik Larsson’s men with only 3 games remaining.

07

The model has always liked Malmö and they actually have the chance to secure the title tonight, if Norrköping lose away to Elfsborg while Malmö win away to Falkenberg – a not too unlikely outcome. In the race for 2nd place, AIK now have the upper hand much thanks to Norrköping’s recent poor results. Göteborg seems to have all but locked in the 4th place and the same goes for the bottom 3.

To continue my slight focus on Djurgården in this post, they’re interestingly projected to take about 6 points from their 3 remaining games: Helsingborg away, Häcken at home and Sundsvall away. Given their very disappointing season, and as a cynical Djurgården supporter, I doubt this.

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Allsvenskan 2016 – The Endgame

Predicting the final Allsvenskan table

With the Swedish season soon coming to an end it’s a good time to try out how the Expected Goals model will predict the final table. With only three games left a top trio consisting of this season’s big surprise Norrköping just in front of Göteborg and AIK are competing for the title as Swedish Champion. At the opposite end of the table Åtvidaberg, Halmstad and Falkenberg look pretty stuck, with the two latter teams battling it out for the possible salvation of the 14th place relegation play-off spot.

predict_table_01

Let’s take look at the remaining schedule for the top three teams:

Norrköping have two though away games left against Elfsborg and Malmö, who are both locked in a duel for the 4th place which could potentially mean a place in the Europa League qualification. Elfsborg are probably the tougher opponent here, with reigning champions Malmö busy in the Champions League group stage. Between these two away games Norrköping will play at home against Halmstad who are fighting for survival in the bottom of the table.

Göteborg have two though away games themselves, first off at Djurgården and later a very important game against fellow title contenders AIK. This game will probably decide which of the two will challenge Norrköping for the title in the last round. Göteborg finishes the season at home to Kalmar who could possibly play for their survival in this last game.

AIK have the best remaining schedule of the three top teams, with away games at Halmstad and Örebro on either side of the crucial home game against Göteborg. As mentioned, Halmstad is fighting for their existence in Allsvenskan, while Örebro’s recent great form have seen them through to a safe spot in the table.

At this late stage of the season there are a lot of psychological factors in play, with the motivation and spirit of teams and players often being connected to their position in the table. These aspects are very hard to quantify and have not been incorporated in my model. So my prediction of the table rely solely on my Expected Goals model used in Monte Carlo simulation. I won’t reveal exactly how I simulate games but the subject will probably be touched upon in a later post so I’ll spare you any boring technical details for now.

Each of the remaining 24 individual games have been simulated 10,000 times. For each of these fictional seasons I’ve counted up the points, goals scored and goal differences for every team to come up with a final table for that season. Lastly I’ve combined all these seasons into a table with expected points and probabilities of each teams possible league positions.

predict_table_03

The model clearly ranks Norrköping as the most likely winner with Göteborg as the main contender, while AIK’s chances of winning the title is only at about 18%. The bottom three looks rather fixed in their current positions with Falkenberg having only a 2% chance of overtaking Kalmar in the last safe spot in the table. At mid-table things are still quite open, even though Djurgården’s season is pretty much over with a 89% chance of placing 6th. Malmö seem to have an advantage against Elfsborg in the race for the 4th place, but given their Champions League schedule their chances should probably be less than the model predicts.

I’ll probably be posting updated predictions on my twitter feed after each of the top teams remaining games to see how the results change the predictions.

Predicting the final Allsvenskan table

Norrköping vs. Djurgården

Though I had planned not to share any shot maps before I had discussed the concept of Expected Goals and my model properly first, after watching last night’s game between Norrköping and Djurgården I just couldn’t help myself. Now some of you probably have seen this kind of plot before so I will leave out the explanation for later posts.

Peking-DIF_2015Here’s last night’s high-scoring game. Being a lifelong Djurgården supporter this was not a pleasant game to watch, and to add to the pain I actually had a bet on the under here. Sigh.

While I don’t believe much in year to year trends such as Team A vs. Team B always produces a lot of goals in today’s modern football where players and managers change teams frequently, watching the game I got a vague feeling of déjà vu and just had to look up this fixture from the last few years.

Peking-DIF_2014Peking-DIF_2013Looking at the games from seasons 2014 and 2013, it seemed there is some truth to the myth. But while it may look like this particular fixture usually end up a high scoring affair, in the other seasons in my database (2011 and 2012), the games ended 2-1 and 1-1 respectively. Furthermore, Djurgården actually only had two players starting in all three games: Kenneth Høie and Emil Bergström. The same goes for Norrköping with only David Mitov Nilsson and Andreas Johansson starting all three games.

With so few players playing all three games and the games therefore being played under completely different preconditions, I think we can safely put this high-scoring trend down to pure coincidence. I still feel like a fool for betting the under though.

Norrköping vs. Djurgården