The early indicators
In the opening weeks of the season, it is desperately difficult to gauge the state of affairs. Not only are new players settling in, the skew of the fixture calendar can make some teams appear better or worse than they are.
We can use two composite metrics to give us an early sense of how well our team is both currently performing, and will continue to perform over the coming weeks. The first is results compared to performance; have we deserved the points we’ve won? The second is performance compared to pre-match expectations; have we performed better than we reasonably could have expected based on the difficulty of matches? These metrics are plotted for La Liga teams on the horizontal and vertical axis below respectively.
Let’s look at some of the extreme examples:
- Deportivo La Coruna may sit third-bottom, but they can consider themselves unlucky, having deserved about 4 more points than the 5 accumulated to date. What’s more, they’ve performed well against some tough opponents, so can take a lot of positives despite their league position.
- Villarreal have gotten fractionally more than they’ve deserved, but have still performed admirably given their fixtures.
- Athletic Bilbao may have points on the board, but a couple of slightly fortuitous victories means they can be considered a little lucky to be fifth. What’s more, their performances haven’t been up to what might have been expected of them so far.
- Granada perhaps deserved a little more from their matches to date, but there’s no getting away from the fact they’ve underperformed, particularly in their last two games. If things continue as such, the season will be a real struggle.
While results are ultimately the only thing that produces tangible reward in May, some contextualised metrics can give a better, more predictive picture of where we really are today.
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