Sport

2 points per game revisited (March 2020)

Here, for the eighth month in a row on this Blog, is a screenshot taken from the BBC website showing Leeds United leading the way in the Championship, the second tier of English football.

ChampTable8Mar2020

As noted almost every month throughout the last two football seasons, I have followed Leeds since childhood. I did not expect them to return to the top of the table so soon after losing the first two games in February (1-0 at home to Wigan, 2-0 at Nottingham Forest). At the next game, away at Brentford, Leeds conceded in the first half thanks to a goalkeeping error. Brentford fans started singing, “Leeds, Leeds are falling apart, again” to the tune of Joy Division’s “Love will tear us apart”. Another goalkeeping error gave Leeds an equalizer and 1-1 was the final score.

Since then, Leeds have won five consecutive games without conceding. West Brom, who were seven points clear at the top after beating Preston on 25 February, have only managed one point from their last two games and are now in second place. The four teams in the play-off places have all dropped points in recent games so Leeds sit seven points clear of Fulham (third) and 11 points clear of Brentford (fourth).

Last season I wrote about the importance of averaging at least 2 points per game. In this piece from February 2019 I noted that none of the teams in the Championship were managing this, and I showed how many successive games each team would have to win to do so. It’s true again right now and with 9 games to go only Leeds and West Brom are capable of averaging 2 points per game over the course of the 46-match season. Even if Fulham (in third place) were to win their remaining games they would finish on 91 points, just short of 2 points per game.

Not for the first time, speculation such as this has got me looking back over previous seasons to check for patterns and precedents. In this case it’s all related to teams averaging 2 points per game in the Championship, and covers the last 20 completed seasons. Here are the questions that crossed my mind, along with the answers.

  • Has a team ever averaged 2 points per game and finished outside the top two? No.
  • In how many of the last 20 seasons have both of the top two teams averaged at least 2 points per game? 4 (2017, 2014, 2006, 2003)
  • In how many of the last 20 seasons have neither of the top two teams averaged at least 2 points per game? 8 (2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2000)
  • In how many of the last 20 seasons has the top team been the only one to average at least 2 points per game? 8 (2019, 2018, 2016, 2010, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001)

Unsurprisingly, I used a spreadsheet to analyse the data and here’s a sample to show the top two teams in each of the last 20 seasons, their points totals, and how many points per game they averaged.

Season
End
Final Position Team Played Points Points Per Game
2019 1 Norwich 46 94 2.04
2019 2 Sheff Utd 46 89 1.93
2018 1 Wolves 46 99 2.15
2018 2 Cardiff 46 90 1.96
2017 1 Newcastle 46 94 2.04
2017 2 Brighton 46 93 2.02
2016 1 Burnley 46 93 2.02
2016 2 Middlesbrough 46 89 1.93
2015 1 Bournemouth 46 90 1.96
2015 2 Watford 46 89 1.93
2014 1 Leicester 46 102 2.22
2014 2 Burnley 46 93 2.02
2013 1 Cardiff 46 87 1.89
2013 2 Hull 46 79 1.72
2012 1 Reading 46 89 1.93
2012 2 Southampton 46 88 1.91
2011 1 QPR 46 88 1.91
2011 2 Norwich 46 84 1.83
2010 1 Newcastle 46 102 2.22
2010 2 WBA 46 91 1.98
2009 1 Wolves 46 90 1.96
2009 2 Birmingham 46 83 1.80
2008 1 WBA 46 81 1.76
2008 2 Stoke 46 79 1.72
2007 1 Sunderland 46 88 1.91
2007 2 Birmingham 46 86 1.87
2006 1 Reading 46 106 2.30
2006 2 Sheff Utd 46 92 2.00
2005 1 Sunderland 46 94 2.04
2005 2 Wigan 46 87 1.89
2004 1 Norwich 46 94 2.04
2004 2 WBA 46 86 1.87
2003 1 Portsmouth 46 98 2.13
2003 2 Leicester 46 92 2.00
2002 1 Man City 46 99 2.15
2002 2 WBA 46 89 1.93
2001 1 Fulham 46 101 2.20
2001 2 Blackburn 46 91 1.98
2000 1 Charlton 46 91 1.98
2000 2 Man City 46 89 1.93

 

 

2 thoughts on “2 points per game revisited (March 2020)

  1. An excellent piece of statology Sean – I think this season it’s all going to “come down to the wire” . My beloved Brentford are certainly in the mix. Is it West Brom’s turn to have a blip? Y’know they might just do that – the prospect of a Leeds Brentford 1-2 could be there!

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  2. Thanks Simon. Yes, a Leeds-Brentford 1-2 is my preferred scenario. It would be tough on West Brom but they can come up through the play-offs. Brentford fans singing, “Leeds, Leeds are falling apart, again” looks like a turning-poing right now. Things have gone remarkably well since then. Nice to hear the Leeds fans singing it as well recently, while beating Hull 4-0. Cheers

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