Ruminations On Form (2/2)
Moving on, then, from each team's running form that I looked at yesterday, we can draw more conclusions using that information but in terms of the opposition faced.
Taking this at its very basic level, here's a graph detailing the average position of the form table of team's opposition - effectively, the higher your opposition has been in that table, the harder your run has been - in an ideal world, you'd expect all teams to be around 12 for this (bang on halfway) but that's not how the world works of course. The table is taken before the game is played so, with Town currently standing fifth, and Wolves fourth, both teams on Saturday will receive a boost in this aspect. First games aren't included, of course.
Obviously, the Huddersfield bar isn't the highest there (pity poor Ipswich - of which more later) but it does indicate that it hasn't been an easy run - 9th most difficult so far (and that is without the first game included; Cardiff have been pretty consistently up in the form table throughout, so it would be even higher with that game on the graph).
There's two teams I want to draw attention to that don't play in blue and white stripes. Firstly, Crystal Palace. Now, Palace have been on a great run of form lately, winning six of their last seven - against teams with an average form table position of 7.4; that's really, really impressive stuff. I can accept it's a purple patch, and obviously the luck of the fixture list, but Palace, since the end of August, have been coming up against teams playing at their best and - except against Forest (seventh at the time) - have beaten them. Secondly, Peterborough. Their opposition has been poor so far this season - worrying indeed given their start. The teams that have beaten Peterborough have been positioned at an average 17.3 in the form table - so playing poorly themselves up to the games with Posh. That said, there's been a bit of a revival over the last few games, but it was understandably desperate situation - almost the exact opposite of that at Ipswich, who can explain part of their poor start away (part, at least) by the difficulty of their opposition, which is by a decent amount (0.6 of a position) the most difficult run so far.
The second graph I've got is a form points won or lost for each team. This is the amount of points each team has acquired by beating teams matched against their ranking in the form table; if you'd beaten a team who were 24th, and that was it, you'd be 1 point down*. At this stage of the season it's a little extreme, but its be helpful in seeing if teams are bullying weaker teams or really taking it to the big boys.
It seems that Leicester and Palace have been doing the latter, while Burnley and Wolves (particularly Wolves here) have been rolling over some easier teams. Of course, you can only beat what's put in front of you, but four of Wolves' victories have come against teams in the bottom four of the form table. That's what you're meant to do of course, but it means that the league table gives them a slightly favourable colouring for beating teams that, on form, they should be expected to beat.
Here, then, I present to you a league table ranked on 'Form Points', with teams positions adjusted accordingly (you can see how the positions differ from the actual table within the column with arrows on the right) and the columns you might not recognise stand for Form Points and Difference (between form points and actual points). I think Town moving up three places is probably a little extreme, but that's what the numbers say (positive victim of sample size is how I'd phrase it).
We are now ten games into the season. The comparison between this table, and the same after 20 games, will be revealing, particularly for those teams at one end of the spectrum or the other - Palace and Ipswich).
*Its balanced so that wins are worth between 2 and 4 points (going up an equal step with each position of opposition) and draws between 0.5 and 1.5 points. After a lot of tampering last season, it leaves the fairest outcome, and the points tally ends up only 0.42 higher than the actual tally over all 24 teams.