Elo is a rating system originally developed to rate chess players. It has long since been adapted to many other sports, including football. The great thing about this rating is that it takes into account the strengths of the teams playing. So if Everton (rated 1542) beat Manchester United (rated 1541) it wouldn’t have a big effect, but if Swansea (1449) beat United, they would be rewarded a much higher points tally and United would suffer a larger decrease in their rating. Because teams gain and lose points equally, there is alway the same number of points in the league (30,000 overall), so as one team improves, another declines, which makes it a very good measure for sizing up matches.

Using the Elo rating system has shown that since the beginning of the season home teams with a higher Elo rating than their opponents have won 62.50% of their games. If you were to blindly pick the home team each game, this strike rate drops to 45%, and if you were to pick the home team only if they were favourites to win, your strike rate would still only be around 53%.

In betting terms, it looks like this


For an imaginary €1.00 per bet, the best rate of return is by using the Elo Ratings (compared to picking blind or only on favourites).

Here is a look at the current ELO ratings for the EPL:


The second column with the arrows highlights whether a team’s rating has increased or decrease from their previous rating. The third column shows how each team has performed each week since the start of the season, and the final column shows each team’s Elo rating.

Not surprising to see Man City on top here, winning all of their games and winning by comfortable margins. The usual suspects crowd around the top too, with a suprising addition of West Brom to the top half of the table. Down the far end, it’s not looking good for West Ham as they have nose-dived almost 80 points below their starting rating. Their upcoming match against Middlesbrough is a must win, but after watching their defensive play last weekend, who know what could happen.

I’ll update this week by week and if there is interest I’ll put up a step by step guide for making your own Elo ratings.