Here’s a quick run down before we get to the first op-ed of the season.
Burnley took over at the top after a late win over Bolton, who are now seven points from safety. Hull and Middlesbrough both failed to take their opportunities to overtake the Clarets, although Boro still have a game in hand. At the bottom, Rotherham could overtake MK Dons this weekend – although the Millers have to travel to Sheffield Wednesday – while Charlton remain marooned in the relegation zone after they came from 3-1 down to lose 4-3 at home to Reading.
This week’s post confirms a hunch I had a couple of weeks ago. When preparing for these articles I normally take a look at the table from different points of view and I found myself wondering if there had been more drawn games this season than usual. The simple answer is yes, so here are the numbers:
* From 2006/07 onwards, eight of the last ten seasons (including this one) there have been fewer than 30% drawn games – including a low of 22% in the first season mentioned.
* We’re currently on target for the highest percentage of drawn games since 2007/08 – at the moment, 31% of the games in the Championship have finished all square.
* Almost half of the drawn games this season have finished 1-1.
* The highest number of draws by one club in a single season is 20 (or 43% of their total) by Swansea in 2008/09 and Ipswich the following season. Neither side finished in the playoffs.
Going back to the current table, only eight teams have drawn fewer than ten games this season and that includes two at the top (Hull and Middlesbrough) and one of the strugglers (Rotherham), but that doesn’t take into account Brighton and Bolton. The Seagulls have drawn ten of their seventeen away games this season (including six in a row between the end of October and Boxing Day) whilst the Trotters have drawn nine of their seventeen home matches in 2015/16, although to be fair to Bolton they’ve only drawn once at the Macron in 2016.
So what – if anything – does this mean?
Looking at the other two divisions in the Football League, the combined number of teams that have drawn more than ten games in Leagues One and Two is still fewer than the clubs that have drawn more than ten games in the Championship, which implies that any of this weekend’s games in the second tier has far more of a chance of finishing all square than in the other two divisions. If all teams were equal and 31% of tomorrow’s games (ie three out of ten) should be draws then the odds for a draw this weekend should be 11/5, but with the exception of Brighton’s game at Preston all the other matches tomorrow have bigger odds than that. Statistically speaking, the games at Bristol City, Derby, Leeds and MK Dons are all with five percentage points of that 31% figure so if you’re draw hunting they may be good places to start.
Additionally, the teams that have drawn more than ten games in all three divisions are more likely to be contending for promotion than battling relegation even though Bolton and Oldham in League 2 don’t fit that pattern. From 2007/08 onwards, only four teams in the Championship that have drawn more than 15 games have been relegated – Bolton are on course to become the fifth – while almost four times as many have finished the top six. On a very basic level, that means the games at Bristol City and Derby might end as draws because Cardiff (tomorrow’s visitors to Ashton Gate) are on the cusp of the playoffs and have already drawn 13 times this season, whilst Derby are currently fifth and have already drawn 12 games in 2015/16.
There’s a full midweek programme on Tuesday but I’m giving myself the evening off and so I’ll post a quick update when tomorrow’s results are in. Otherwise I’ll be back next Friday.
Update: there were draws at Preston and Reading – Burnley remain top after beating Blackburn, but they could be overtaken by Middlesbrough if they lose at Fulham on Tuesday. The situation at the bottom remains more or less the same, although after Rotherham unexpectedly won at Sheffield Wednesday yesterday, the gap between the Millers and MK Dons is down to three points. Charlton also won, which means Bolton are bottom again.