An early look at attacking and defensive performance
It’s still a few weeks before we can justify creating new versions of our interactive attack and defence scatter plots, so I’ve impatiently dug out the old “low tech” versions to see what’s been going on so far in the Football League and Conference Premier. If you’ve not seen these before, check out the explanations link above, but in essence it’s quantity of shots on the horizontal axis and quality on the vertical.
Clicking on any of these images should bring up a full-sized version in a separate tab.
It looks like Rotherham‘s attackers are struggling to adapt to the Championship so far, with Fulham also profligate up front. Middlesbrough have created the most chances per match so far, but Watford are been the most clinical side in front of goal. Leeds‘ poor start owes much to the extremely low number of shots they’ve been taking – not far off half the divisional average.
Newly-promoted Wolves have been impressively solid at the back, while Chris Powell’s first priority at Huddersfield will be to shore up the division’s leakiest defence (if you cast your eyes back to the previous graphic, you’ll see that their attack is doing pretty well so far). Watford and Bolton have been allowing their opponents plenty of shots at goal, while Brighton – now managed by a former defender – have been the least permissive.
Neither Crewe nor Gillingham have created much this season, but both have been making a decent fist of the goalscoring opportunities that have come their way. The latter have actually been the most efficient side in the Football League at putting chances away, while Crawley and Walsall have struggled to do likewise. Leyton Orient and Sheffield United have so far failed to deliver on their promotion expectations: both have been stubbornly average going forward.
While Fleetwood have been the division’s most solid team defensively, Notts County‘s back line has performed heroically given the number of shots they’ve had to deal with. Swindon have kept opponents the quietest so far, although they’ve not been much better than Gillingham – the club with the leakiest defence – at keeping out the efforts they face.
Cambridge have made an assertive start to their Football League return, creating more chances than anyone except York, but finishing them more accurately. Exeter are struggling to make an impression up front and, unlike Tranmere, haven’t yet been able to make the most of the few chances that have come their way.
Cambridge have also been busy at the other end of the pitch, unlike Shrewsbury and Newport who have managed to prevent many efforts at their goal. Cheltenham currently boast the most resilient defence, soaking up chances around four times as efficiently as Stevenage or Carlisle so far this season.
It’s been a miserable start for Nuneaton‘s front line – starved of service and struggling to find the back of the net. Woking‘s unbeaten start owes much to their ruthlessness in front of goal, given that they’ve created a relatively average number of chances compared to Torquay, Grimsby and Halifax.
As we saw above, Barnet‘s attack is performing well, but it’s their defence that’s keeping them on top of the division at the moment. Woking have kept opposing strikers the quietest, facing over ten fewer shots per match than Lincoln on average. Newly-promoted Dover have had the most trouble keeping shots out so far, with the ball finding their net once for every four shots faced.