A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias
Earlier on today I attempted to produce a visualisation of next season’s League 2 fixtures in an attempt to spot any interesting patterns. Nobody complained, so I thought that seeing as I’d already written the code I may as well produce one for the other 2 divisions of the Football League.
First, in case you didn’t see the League 2 one, here’s a brief recap of how it works. Determining how ‘difficult’ individual fixtures are requires some way of comparing the strength of each club, but the transfer and loan market will be buzzing for some time yet, meaning that it’s still far too early to start ranking sides. However, I reasoned that I could have a stab at grouping the clubs into broad categories based on their placing this season and current promotion odds. Please note that this is only a rough proxy done in a hurry, so don’t be offended if I’ve put your club in a group you don’t agree with.
Here’s how it looks for the Championship (click the picture to open a full size version):
Group A: Promotion contenders – Birmingham, Blackpool, Leicester, Nottingham Forest, Reading, West Ham
Group B: Play-off hopefuls – Burnley, Cardiff, Ipswich, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Southampton
Group C: Mid-table makeweights – Brighton, Bristol C, Derby, Hull, Millwall, Portsmouth
Group D: Relegation battlers – Barnsley, Coventry, Crystal Palace, Doncaster, Peterborough, Watford
To give some examples of how this works, it looks like Ipswich have a nightmare run of fixtures in late December and January: 6 games in which they play 5 promotion-chasing sides and a fellow play-off hopeful. Derby have a similarly scary patch in late February / early March, but then have a clear run to the end of the season without facing a single ‘giant’, so they might well make a late surge up the table.
Now let’s have a look at League 1:
Group A: Promotion contenders – Huddersfield, MK Dons, Preston, Scunthorpe, Sheff Utd, Sheff Wed
Group B: Play-off hopefuls – Bournemouth, Brentford, Charlton, Colchester, Exeter, Leyton Orient
Group C: Mid-table makeweights – Bury, Carlisle, Chesterfield, Notts County, Oldham, Rochdale
Group D: Relegation battlers – Hartlepool, Stevenage, Tranmere, Walsall, Wycombe, Yeovil
Straight away I can see that Huddersfield and MK Dons both face fellow promotion challengers in 3 of their final 6 matches, which could result in some tasty end-of-season clashes. I also noticed that 4 of the final day matches are between promotion challengers and relegation battlers, so there could be quite a tense finale. Leyton Orient have arguably the easiest start: they don’t face a big side until their tenth match, but then play 4 of them in 5 matches which may well bring them back down to earth with a bump.
Anyway that’s enough to give you the general idea – hope this is of interest.