Leeds v Preston North End: Win Expectancy Chart

via upload.wikimedia.org http://www.flickr.com/photos/auz/1170049861/

Yesterday, Preston North End beat Leeds United in a ten-goal extravaganza. The Championship matchup proved to be more thrilling than most Champions League matches, with Partizan/Arsenal having the most goals at four. Although I didn't get to watch the match myself, being locked away in the law library at the time, even the updates flashing by were enough to excite my interest.

While a ten-goal match is always an attention-grabber, the fact that Preston—the visitors—came back from being down 4-1 makes the 6-4 final scoreline all the more impressive. In fact, according to Graham MacAree, proprietor of We Ain’t Got No History, by Leeds’ fourth goal, Preston had a 0.1 % chance of winning. Graham has been working on new soccer stats, and one of his creations is a win expectancy chart. Take a look at the one from this match:

 

 

Certainly no one watching this match expected a Preston win after they went behind 4-1 at Elland Road, and the graph reflects that gut instinct: an extremely low probability that the visitors would pull off such a come from behind win. I’ve had the privilege (or maybe the misfortune) to see the graph for Newcastle v Villa. I think it was after the third goal that we had, effectively, no chance of winning. And while comebacks such as these are rare—which is part of the reason we enjoy them so much—they also demonstrate that there is a reason to keep a bit of hope alive. Even 0.1% chances can turn into wins.

At the very least, don’t leave the stadium until the last second has run out.

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