Attacking and defensive effectiveness – an early view

Over the summer I’ve refined my attacking and defensive effectiveness graphics (a short explanation of them can be found here) and there’s finally enough data from the 2012/13 season to give them another airing. I’ve rewritten the engine from the ground up, with the main improvement from last season being the incorporation of standard deviation. This is a simple measure of how distributed the teams are, which I’m using to highlight the teams which are true ‘outliers’. As before, the graph is centred on the averages for each metric, but now everything outside one standard deviation from the average on either axis is shaded accordingly, so the more statistically significant differences are highlighted.

Seeing as the season is still only a handful of matches old, I’ll refrain from reading too much into these at the moment save a few illustrative observations for each graphic.



Ipswich‘s wasteful attack is the main outlier here, although promotion favourites Bolton‘s profligacy is also worthy of a mention – could the pressure to bounce straight back up be getting to them already? Peterborough are in dire need of inspiration up front, while Charlton‘s front line seems to be struggling to adapt to life in the Championship. Brighton and Burnley seem to have struck the best early balance between chance creation and conversion.


The misery continues for Peterborough at the other end of the pitch, while Millwall‘s defence also need better protection. Brighton and Blackpool are notable outliers at the back, with the former expert at repelling chances and the latter superior at preventing them.

League 1



Brentford are throwing the kitchen sink at this division, creating more chances than any other Football League side – a modest improvement in their finishing could be required for a promotion push though. Scunthorpe seem to be snatching at their chances – they’re the most wasteful of the League’s 72 teams to a conspicuous extent.


Tranmere have made a fantastic start to the season and their imperious back line should take a large chunk of the credit – the most efficient defence in the Football League is also adept at preventing opponents from shooting in the first place. Walsall and Yeovil look to be spending a lot of time on the back foot, soaking up a lot of punishment.

League 2


At least some of the blame for Barnet‘s awful start must lie with their front line, where both chance creation and conversion are currently dismal. Wycombe create just as few scoring opportunities, but are three times better at turning them into goals! Bristol Rovers‘ poor showing isn’t for want of effort: they’re creating chances aplenty but are the division’s most wasteful side. Few would be surprised to see pre-season title favourites Fleetwood and Rotherham creating plenty of chances, although the former will need to improve their finishing if they’re to live up to expectations.


Gillingham‘s astonishing defensive resilience – being able to soak up almost 20 shots for each goal they concede – skews this whole distribution, much like Shewsbury’s did in this division last year. Once again, Torquay are also taking a battering at the back, while Wimbledon‘s chaotic start is plain for all to see here. What’s interesting is that the top left quadrant is completely uninhabited: teams are generally either good at restricting chances or repelling them, but not both. 

Combined graphs

If you want to see all 72 clubs on the same graph, these are currently adorning the blog’s Facebook page.

Next steps

Once a few more matches have been played I’ll revisit these with an individual analysis for each team, along with a look at the types and timings of goals they’re scoring and conceding. There will also be some experimentation with weightings and match-level visualisation as the season unravels.