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Saturday, March 04, 2006

There's No Such Thing As Form

I've been meaning to blog about this for ages (well, a week or so), but according to Daniel Finkelstein, statistician and all round bright guy, there is no such thing as form. Yup, you read that right. In football, at least, form is a myth. It doesn't exist. It's a red herring. It doesn't have any basis in fact.

Read the article ( in fact read all of Mr Finkelstein's 'Fink Tank' articles written for The Times Newspaper) and I think you'll be a believer too. His team ran some serious statistical analysis that compared the results of one game to it's successors and it's predecessors and concluded this :
"Not a single team won a significantly greater proportion of games after wins than after non-wins. There is no hot-hand effect at all. Winning one or more games does not change your chance of winning the next one."

I've long been of the opinion that may of the stats given out by football commentators and soccer pundits are a nonsense. For example, you'll often here things like 'Doncaster Rovers haven't beaten Arsenal since 1923' when, in fact, they haven't played since 1923 and even then Donny Rovers were a non-league side.

However, Mr Finkelstein is a mathematician by trade and, you know what, I think I agree with him. Only problem is: now how am I going to decide who to bet on in the 2006 World Cup in Germany ?

posted by mark_s at 1:07 AM


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