Visualising Torquay’s League 2 Fixtures
Over at experimental361.com I’ve been busy producing fixture visualisations for all 3 Football League divisions and thought I’d share some Torquay-specific fruits of my labour with you here. The picture below (which can be enlarged in a separate tab by clicking) is the evolution of a heat map in which I calculated the relative difficulty of each fixture using:
- The current Bet365 promotion odds (the most uncontroversial proxy measure for ‘team strength’ I could think of)
- Each team’s ratio of points won at home vs. away last season (to factor in home advantage) – this is given a lower weighting in the calculation than the odds
Without further ado, here is the result:
You’ll see from the key at the bottom that I’ve highlighted the top 5 easiest and hardest matches for each team, then the next 10 easiest and hardest with smaller circles, and finally the remaining 16 ‘medium difficulty’ matches are the least conspicuous.
So what does this tell us about Torquay’s season?
- First of all, we have a tough opening game (away at big-spending Fleetwood), but the next 4 matches are a lot more straightforward on paper.
- Following our 9th match in early October, we’ll have gotten 3 of our 5 hardest fixtures out of the way, paving the way for a relatively benign spell up until the end of 2012.
- While the first 2 matches of 2013 are both at home, they present contrasting challenges. The visit of Wimbledon, from which we’ll surely be banking on 3 points, is followed up by that of promotion favourites Rotherham.
- Late January and early February is a challenge with 4 ‘red’ fixtures in a row, including a trip to Exeter. Any players added in the January window will have a baptism of fire, while the loss of any key personnel would be more keenly felt.
- Late February and early March are a lot kinder with 3 of the next 5 games being green, although things then heat up as the Gulls head towards the season run-in with 3 of the following 5 being red.
- Our final 3 games are relatively straightforward, including the seemingly very winnable visit of Barnet to Plainmoor, so a late surge up the table looks probable.
Notable sequences for other teams
- One of Gulls’ rivals for a play-off spot, Wycombe have a rollercoaster run-in. Their 11 matches from the end of January until late March contain 7 ‘red’ games (including 2 of their toughest 5) and only 1 green, but then 5 of their final 6 fixtures are green. We could well see them fall away, seemingly out of contention, only to surge strongly upwards as the season nears its climax.
- Dag & Red, Exeter, Port Vale and York should all make strong starts, with their first 4 games being red-free. Will their campaigns benefit from some early momentum?
- A trickier introduction awaits Barnet, who have to wait until the 10th match for their first ‘green’. Burton have a similarly horrible opening run, notwithstanding one green game early on. As you’d expect, these two sides are compensated by a lot of green towards the end of their campaigns, with Barnet also having a very favourable run of games from the start of November through until Christmas.
- Morecambe and Northampton also have difficult starts, albeit less so, with the latter also starting 2013 interestingly: 5 of their first 6 games in 2013 are either among their top 5 most or least winnable, which could presage a chaotic time for their fans.