A home match against West Ham is harder than playing Chelsea or Liverpool away?

The current alt-3 table for the Premier League has Chelsea, West Ham United and Manchester City in the top 3 places.

While West Ham and City are level on points, West Ham have faced a slightly tougher schedule so far and so they are placed just above City; but there’s not much in it. City’s schedule to date is rated as balanced (11.1 “effective matches played”, very close to the number of actual matches played), whereas West Ham are rated as having around half a game in hand (10.6 effective matches played).

West Ham have played 6 of their 11 matches so far at home; but the Hammers have done better away so far this season than at home. That’s what mainly explains West Ham’s slight schedule imbalance at present; it is only slight, though!

In fact, like many other Premier League clubs this season so far, all of the top 3 have been doing better away than at home. The current “rates diamond” shows this graphically:

How can a home match against West Ham be rated as harder than playing Chelsea or Liverpool away?

This is a question that I got asked yesterday. It comes from looking at a current alt-3 schedule-strength graph such as this one for Man City:

According to that graph, City’s hardest fixture in the first 15 matches of this season is at home to West Ham (because that’s the biggest shift to the right, in the above graph). That match is rated as being harder (for City) than either of the away matches at Chelsea and Liverpool, for example.

How can a home match against West Ham be rated as harder than away matches at Chelsea and Liverpool?

Well, even a cursory look at the home and away records of the clubs concerned is enough to explain this.

Matches/Points so far, this season:

  Home Away
Chelsea 6/13 5/13
West Ham United 6/10 5/13
Manchester City 5/10 6/13
Liverpool 5/9 6/13

The difference between 5/10 and 5/13 — for Man City at home vs West Ham — is appreciably larger than the corresponding differences for City’s away matches at Chelsea and Liverpool.

So, indeed, playing West Ham at home is — for a club such as Man City whose results at home have been worse than away — rightly rated as being harder than an away match at Chelsea or Liverpool.

This could all change, of course. City’s home record could improve, or West Ham’s away record could get worse, as more matches get played. But measuring such changes, in a coherent way, is what alt-3 is all about!

As ever: to see any team’s full schedule-strength chart, showing the extent to which their fixture list to date has been relatively easy or hard, just click on the team’s name in the alt-3 Premier League table.