Win Lose Charts – English Premier League 2007 – 2008

With hindsight, it’s easy to look at it with hindsight” – Glen Hoddle

Little did we suspect midway through the season that the Premier League would turn into a 2 horse race. Poor starts by both Man Utd. and Chelsea were transformed into a consistent run of good form which would extend the drama to the very last day of the season.

With one game left to play, the top two were level on points with Manchester having a superior goal difference. If Chelsea could achieve a better result than Manchester, then they would clinch the league in the final game…

The English Premier league currently has 20 teams requiring a total of 380 games per season. The results of sporting leagues are usually displayed in a league table format. During the course of a season we see teams occupy different table positions. The standard table format however leaves out the important historic story of the league.

This is how shows the final league table.















The final 8 games are summarized as a colors encoded Win Lose chart. The table found at the web site above provides helpful links to each team’s performance and a snapshot in time regarding table position for each month of the league. It is also possible to rank the teams with respect to their home or away performance and overall is a very powerful tool for analyzing statistics of the league. Some historical information is also given with the results for the last 8 games being displayed in the last column.

Statistics are like miniskirts; they give you good ideas but hide the important things.” – Ebbe Skovdahl

However, there are a number of things about the table in that I think could be improved and all of them are centred on the “Last 8” column. The table author is attempting to describe win-lose information graphically and has dedicated approximately one quarter of the width of the table to it. With a quarter of the table dedicated to it, we should expect more than 8 out of 38 games to be described. The author has chosen to invent a chart type which encodes the results using colored squares with more empty space than data. The whole season can easily fit into this width if we choose an appropriate display technique such as a win-lose chart.

My least favorite aspect of the “Last 8” column is the non-standard use of a 1 dimensional plot. I come from a physical science background and so I am used to diagrams telling me certain things in certain ways. One of these things is (in the absence of an axis or some other visual guide) that time should go from left to right! In this 1D plot the knowledge of which way time is going is fundamental. The links at the top of the same table used to break the table down into months, go in chronological order from left to right. This sets up my brain to expect the rest of the table to behave in the same way. So why don’t the last 8 games do the same? Unless you actually have some knowledge about how the season ended, you might not actually realize that time is going from right to left. I happened to know that Liverpool and Arsenal didn’t lose their final games of the season. This made me double check what the table was actually telling me. Without some knowledge of how the Premiership ended I would have interpreted the information presented wrongly. The fact that time is going from right to left isn’t wrong. The fact that the rest of the table is telling me to expect it to go from left to right is.

“Well, Clive, it’s all about the two M’s. Movement and positioning” – Ron Atkinson

So what improvements could we make to the standard table format to get more information into the table? To tell the story of the 2007-2008 league we need to include the historical context.

The Excel table below uses sparklines to summarizes the season for each team in terms of relative positions in the table and a win lose chart for the entire season.



Now we get a feeling for the true drama that occurred during the season. The Position column shows how the each teams position changed over the course of the league. Those of us that followed the 2007-2008 Premiership will be able to look at the performance curves and remember the situation for a given time. For example:

  • The lowest point of the season for Man Utd ,in every sense, was when they lost to Man City
  • The departure of Jose Mourinho after 8 games was a catalyst for change in Chelsea’s fortunes

“I never make predictions, and I never will” – Paul Gascoigne

It is interesting to directly compare the performance of teams together. Adding an interactive Bumps Chart in allows us to see how Man Utd and Chelsea faired over the season. To compare two team click the sparklines in the ranking table or click the data label on the Bumps Charts.



In the next post I will talk about the techniques used to produce the ineractive ranking table within Excel. Until then why not check out a live web version, published from Excel to our website.

8 Replies to “Win Lose Charts – English Premier League 2007 – 2008”

  1. The only thing that threw me on the “Bumps” chart is that Manchester United play in Red, and Chelsea in Blue – whereas you’ve colored them the other way around ;-}

    Ian W.

  2. Hi,
    Very interesting page. I had only looked at the first table, and it took me 5 minutes to figure out that the last 8 result portion of the table was going in the wrong direction.
    Your revised table is very revealing, but from a graphical consideration I would suggest the following:
    01. The Win Loose section suffers from the bars representing a draw being too small. You might want to consider slightly decreasing the bars for W and L and increasing the height of the bar for a draw. Improved contrast between the three (or colour) would also help.
    02. The continuous line representing position over the season only illustrates the team’s performance relative to itself. For instance the highest point on Derby Co’s line is actually approximately equal to the lowest point on Chelsea’s line. Without considering the numerical data there is no way of determining this. These graphs therefore allow no inter comparison between teams. It is therefore suggested that these graphs, which consume a large portion of the table, is of comparitively limited value.
    03 I see no advantage of seperating the numerical data regarding WLD to the extreme right of the table. I suggest that a more logical structure would be to place the WLT data to the right of the GDiff column, folowed by the (ammended) Win Loose Diagrams and then the max and min positions followed at the end by the position diagram.

    Hope this is of assistance,



  3. I like your paramlink formula, but here’s a way to accomplish nearly the same thing without it.

    I’ve got a row of form optionbuttons sitting over each of the last plotted points in a bumps chart – one for each series. All these series are formatted gray, with nice big round line markers tthe same size as my optionbuttons. Then I’ve got a red series that points to a dynamic range courtesy of the optionbutton value being used in an offset function. The result is that the user clicks on the last datapoint of a particular series of interest, and that series turns red on account of the dynamic graph series range. Almost exactly the same as what your cool function does, but without additional addin.

    Only problem is that my optionbuttons are visible, which only slightly spoils the ‘magic’ of this effect. What’s more of a problem in this partitular case is that they get in the way when I collapse a grouping that this chart is sitting in. The chart is snapped to a cell so that it completely dissapears courtesy of a ‘group and outline’ group (which is a handy way to get rid of a chart from a dashboard report when you don’t want to see it) but the option buttons seem to behave differently…they don’t dissapear along with the chart even though they are snapped to the same cell. Instead they obscure some text.

    So I either need to find out how to make the optionbuttons transparent, or I need a macro that will ron a ActiveSheet.Shapes(“Option Button 33”).Visible = False routine when I collapse the particular row that the graph is in, and that will also make them visible when I expand that particular grouping.

    Any help greatly appreciated.

    Love your posts, and cant wait to get my entry in to the dashboard comp…I’ve got some other cool tricks that I’m sure you will digg.

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