Good morning all, its match day and as such I’m up and about looking to provoke discussion and debate with some controversial content.
The really useful www.footstats.co.uk has a full league simulation model. It takes the results from the first half of the season, the likelihood of different sides scoring home and away and plots the results of the remaining games. That in turn gives us a projected table come the beginning of May and for Imps fans, it’s tough to swallow.
Of course, Luton Town are called as winners, something everyone predicted back in August. It was always tough to see beyond the Hatters for the title and although I’m not sure the rest of the table is as easy to predict, top spot was.
The big winners in the projected table are Swindon Town, stats suggest they might be due to shoot up from 10th to 2nd by the end of the season. There is always one side that do hijack the promotion party, we’re hoping it might be us but Swindon are a decent shout. Some might be surprised that a side who have lost six of their last seven are statistically likely to storm the top three though.
Notts County are projected to take the third automatic promotion spot and I couldn’t argue with that, whilst the play-off spots are taken by Colchester, Wycombe, Accrington and Exeter. We’re projected to finish eighth, just outside of the lottery places but crucially level on points with Wycombe and only three from Notts County in third. What it does tell us is that the top ten is likely to be tight right up until the final matches.
Colchester do look good for a play off spot though. Our match with them (pictured above) showed them to be organised and aggressive if not outstandingly talented, and that might be enough to see a side finish top seven. Consistency is king and being consistently tough to beat is always going to be a good thing. Exeter might drop away, Accrington might too, but sides like Colchester and Wycombe have enough to keep fighting even when tiredness takes away everything but the bare bones.
The biggest losers in the prediction model are Coventry, dropping from fourth currently to ninth and condemned to another season in League Two. Trust me, they won’t be hanging around for long though, if the predicted table does come true they’ll be favourites in 2018/19.
Down at the bottom there is some degree of delighted for fans of the beautiful game, everyone’s favourite bankrolled fairy tale look likely to be relegated. They’re bottom now, albeit on goal different, but the prediction model has them picking up just 19 more points this season. I didn’t drill down into individual results too much, but we are tipped to win one or two nil against them on Saturday.
Chesterfield are tipped to follow them but unlikely to do so as Jack Lester has got them playing much better. They’ve lost just three in their last nine and whilst that’s not exactly top of the table form, it shows enough resilience to ensure they’ll not be visiting Barrow or Salford next season. If I were a betting man I would be looking at Crewe though, predicted to be third bottom come May. They lacked all the qualities needed to fight relegation when we visited, consistency, attitude, belief and confidence. It would be a shame to see a side such as Crewe fall out of the league but as Tranmere showed (remember them? Super White Army? No? Oh well.), no team is too big for relegation to the fifth tier.
Whilst this is fun for us to use as a discussion point, prediction models do not take some important facts into consideration. It can’t account for improvements in form due to new players arriving and it assumes matches such as us losing 4-1 at Notts County were down to performance and not referee intervention (see also Accrington & Newport).
What do you think? Are Lincoln on a collision course with final day agony as we’re pipped to the final play off spot by our former legend Gareth Ainsworth? Or does the flawed prediction model not take into account new faces, Danny Cowley’s remarkable ability to see a team improve after January rather than struggle and, of course, the fact we’re now much more settled and aligned with the pace of League Two football?
Leaves comments in the box below or on social media. In the meantime, I’ll see you at the Bank this afternoon.