Looking at the current Eredivisie table we see RKC and Vitesse in the top four

with Heerenveen down in 13th position (prior to this weekend’s fourth round of

fixtures). It is, of course, early in the season and therefore too early to conclude

anything purely from the ranking. However, we can easily produce an expected

points table to compare to the current league table to see if the positions of the

clubs named above are surprising or not given the strength of opposition played.

*The table below includes last night’s match which is not taken account of in this
article.*

Here I am most interested in controlling purely for the strength of schedule and

therefore I have used the bookmakers odds on the 27 matches played prior to

Friday. I have used this website to access the bookmakers’ assessments of the

matches for the current season. The calculations are explained at the end of this

post for those who wish to see them but many readers will already know how to

do this as it is a relatively trivial exercise.

The first thing to note here is that the expected table is broadly speaking the

same as the observed. In other words the top and bottom halves of the tables

contain almost exactly the same teams in both of the rankings. ADO and Heracles

are the only clubs to appear in different halves of the two tables. As an aside

to this, the two halves of the table are known as the *linkerrijtje* and *rechterrijtje
*here in the Netherlands. This translates to left and right half and is presumably

due to the way the league table was historically displayed in newspapers and still

is on TV.

However, we are most interested in Vitesse, RKC and Heerenveen. Are their

positions in the current Eredivisie ranking really a surprise?

Vitesse are a great example of a team open to misinterpretation as they have a

rich owner and thus many people assume that big things can be expected.

However, this was the case last season too when they finished seventh, a

distance behind the top six, although this was already a big step up from their

15th position of 2010/2011. The question with Vitesse is whether they can

really challenge for a Champions League place this season. Currently they are

third which would suggest so but our expected table also illustrates that they

should have expected to be in the top four at this stage anyway. There is

little we can conclude at this stage from Vitesse’s good start to the season.

RKC are a different case because of their win against PSV on the opening day of

the season. Despite home advantage, RKC’s expected points from that match were

only 0.62 and PSV’s 2.17. This has had a major effect at this early stage of

course but RKC were still expected to appear in the top half anyway. So, RKC appear

to be overperforming but this is primarily due to a surprise victory in a single match.

The same applies to PSV’s slight underperformance of course.

Most interesting though is Marco van Basten’s Heerenveen. After finishing in

fifth position last season, many of the players, including top scorer Bas Dost

and assist king Luciano Narsingh, have been sold. Heerenveen’s current position

of 13th is therefore ripe for criticism and indeed, negative comments have

already started to appear. However, the simple expected points table had them

even lower at this stage, in 15th position, due to their tough start to the season.

I will return to this expected table regularly as the season wears on to see

how the clubs are performing in relation to the bookmakers’ expectations.

——————————————————————————————–

**Methodology for the calculation of the expected points**

1. Take the (decimal) odds of the three possible results of each match.

2. Divide 1 by each of the odds in order to get the chance of each result.

3. Sum these as the bookmakers will have built in a profit so the calculated

chances will add to more than 1 (in this case the figures we get show that the

bookmakers’ profit is around 7 to 8%.

4. Divide each of our original chances (from step 2) by the sum of the three

chances for each match in order to ensure that the chances of the three

possible results add up to 1.

5. Calculate the expected points by multiplying the win and draw chances for

each club by 3 and 1 respectively.

**A practical example follows using the Ajax v AZ match.**

1. Odds quoted were 1.64 for a home win, 3.85 for a draw and 4.85 for an away

win.

2. Dividing 1 into these (ie 1 divided by 1.64) gives 0.609756, 0.25974 and 0.206186 as the three respective chances.

3. However, this adds up to 1.075682 so each needs to be divided by this figure

to give the actual chance.

4. We now have 0.57, 0.24 and 0.19 (to two decimal places) as the chance of a

home win, draw and away win respectively.

5. Ajax’s expected points from the match were 1.95 (3*0.57+0.24) and AZ’s were

0.82 (3*0.19+0.24).

These equations do not make sense in the walkthrough. Dividing 1.64 by 1 gives 1.64 not 0.609756. Can you re jig it please. Thanks.

You are quite right. It should have been the other way around. Corrected now. Hope it is clear.

Thanks mate, i was beginning to think i had lost my marbles lol.

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