hacks

EPL vs La Liga: Which league is better?


After numerous subjective discussions (heated arguments) with friends of mine comparing EPL to La Liga that could only serve to break friendships and bruise throats, I decided to actually do some work and analyze the quality of the two leagues.
Disclaimer: I really like La Liga, and I really like Barcelona.

There are two main equally important components of the quality of a soccer league:
1. Strength of the top teams: There may be soccer leagues in India and Egypt with fierce internal rivalries and healthy balance in strength, but if the top teams itself are weak, the whole league is weak. To paraphrase Radiohead, the best they can ain’t good enough.
2. Competitiveness: This is the reason there is no Bundesliga in this discussion. A league is fun only if the day to day is exciting.

Intuitively, point 1 goes to La Liga, while point 2 goes to the EPL. But let’s allow stats to join the discussion.

I collected the final season tables for the two leagues from 1997-98 to 2013-14 in order to study the aggregate over these 17 seasons. Now some people may say that this is not recent history, but if you really want to talk stats, you need to have more data points. Otherwise the point of this article is moot and we can all go back to arguing relentlessly.

Also, I defined something called Nu Points, because I don’t like the current point allotment for WDL (3:1:0). I either want to make it more balanced (4:2:0) with every match getting 4 points (Nu Points), or more win heavy (4:1:0) with every win adding more weight in case of an imbalance (Wh Points).

So here is the aggregate table, and it is a counter intuitive curveball:

Counter-intuitive poop

Aggregate Table

Standard deviation is a metric of competitiveness, the lower it is the tighter the league and fiercer the competition. And by the cock of Zeus, it is a result we did not expect to see! La Liga has a lower standard deviation compared to EPL. But we all know that EPL would be more competitive, so what the hell is going on?

The answer lies in the details, and how aggregated statistics can sometimes obfuscate the story than reveal it.

Here is the breakdown of the team wise statistics for the Nu Points and Wh Points for the top 20 teams in each league (top teams defined by the number of seasons played, followed by average points).

EPL Nu Points

EPL Nu Points

La Liga Nu Points

La Liga Nu Points

EPL Win Heavy Points

EPL Win Heavy Points

La Liga Win Heavy Points

La Liga Win Heavy Points

And now we see what is going on. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are dominating the Liga at the expense of the other teams (this is even more stark when you consider the Wh points), but the competition among the rest is very fierce and most of them are even. This contrasts with the EPL, where the top 4 are much stronger (in the vein of RMA and FCB) and there is an unmistakable steady decline in the quality of the other teams. This leads to the higher standard deviation in EPL compared to Liga.

So clearly, with similar coefficients of variance, statistically speaking, both leagues are imbalanced. And no sane person should disagree here. This is a general problem with football leagues as the distribution of funds happens to be in a positive feedback loop which can only be broken by the infusion of big money (Chelsea / Man City) into some of the lower teams. What gives EPL the perception of being more competitive is the closeness of the top four compared to Liga. All of the top four in EPL (now five with Man City joining in with a gorgeous Upper Limit) are quite close and are offered decent shots at the pole position. This is completely unlike Liga where RMA and FCB are thoroughly dominating the minions. Since competition for the top is what matters, EPL is clearly more competitive.

From 1997 to 2013, I would say that the best of EPL has been as good as the best of Liga on average (key here being on average, maybe Liga narrowly edges EPL). If that is an assumption we can agree upon, then clearly EPL offers more in terms of competitiveness than Liga.

Point 1: Tied (Liga edge)
Point 2: EPL wins where it matters

Overall winner, EPL.

Congrats EPL! But trust me, if you want to learn how to play good and enjoyable football, watch the current majesty of Barcelona. I just had to fucking say that.

Scrabble Words Finder


This is a simple VBA macro that I made that can find words with the letters (upto 4) that you want. I was frustrated with the lack of such a software/site that could tell me the possible words that I could make with certain letters. This macro finds such words, and arranges them in the decreasing order of the points they’ll give you in a scrabble or scrabble based game.

The code is included and you are free to make any changes and redistribute it wherever you want. I have hardcoded most things as I am new to VBA, so don’t change the columns and stuff or rename the sheets, unless you know what you are doing. Have fun!

I am not too sure if wordpress allows .xlsm files, so I changed the extension to .xlsx and uploaded this. Please change it back to .xlsm once you download it.
Scrabble Word Finder

This is the .xlsm version.
Scrabble Solver (xlsm)

Features of Pandora One without paying for them (on your computer)


There are two significant disadvantages/annoyances of Pandora if you use it on a laptop in a window:
1. Ads
2. Are you still listening?

To hack the first, just use AdBlock plus (a Chrome, Firefox extension), and uncheck “Allow some intrusive advertising”. This should take care of the annoying ads.

For the second, the workaround is slightly complex. You will have to install Leechblock if you use Firefox or Nanny if you use Chrome. The trick works because when Pandora goes “Are you still listening?” the URL changes to http://www.pandora.com/inactive
In the settings, do these things:
1. Create a rule to block http://www.pandora.com/inactive
Set the rule to run for 0000-2359, and do step 2.
2. Search for the “redirect to” URL and put in the station you listen to on Pandora (or just https://pandora.com since it would recognize your login and work properly). You should be good to go.

Two irritating features removed that would make Pandora pure joy, as it should be. Needless to say, these work only on a computer (no AdBlock plus on Android yet! Boo!). But if you are using Pandora even on your phone, just pay up. The charge is hardly much.