Football League & Conference update
As yet another season approaches the halfway stage without me managing to get into any sort of predictable posting schedule, here’s another seemingly random update to some of my staple visualisations for all three Football League divisions and the Conference.
Points per game “Cann table”
First of all let’s look at the Football League tables a bit more visually. The graphic below sorts clubs based on points per game (as per the vertical axis) to correct for different numbers of matches played, and then goal difference per game:
You can see that Blackpool are seriously adrift at the bottom of the Championship, but it’s otherwise quite an evenly spread division – however Brentford are the lone occupiers of the gap between stuttering Watford and the top 4.
In League 1 however, 4 clubs are running away with it at the top and the rest of the division is quite compressed. MK Dons‘ game in hand means that they’ve actually accrued points at a marginally faster rate than current top side Bristol City.
League 2 has the biggest spread and several clusters of teams including a “top 5”, a “chasing 4” and a couple of stragglers in Hartlepool and Tranmere.
Looking at the traditional attacking and defensive scatter plots for each division in descending order (check the explanations page linked above if you’re not familiar with these):
Bournemouth are still the sharpest attacking side overall, although Derby are the most clinical and Norwich the busiest shooters. Rotherham have been the most wasteful side in front of goal, but Blackpool‘s attack stands alone as the one which can neither create a sufficient volume of chances nor convert them effectively. Brighton remain interesting: dominating matches but finding it difficult to capitalise.
Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday are showing the rest of the division how to defend, but Charlton are doing something very interesting. If you cast your eye back to the attacking chart, they’re taking fewer shots than anyone else in the division, and only Birmingham are facing more. However despite spending most of the season on the back foot, their defence has been one of the most resilient in the Football League: soaking up punishment and keeping them in games.
Two wasteful sides stand out here: both Yeovil and Walsall have created a respectable number of chances but have needed far too many attempts to score each goal. Sharpest side Rochdale have been over twice as clinical from a similar number of chances.
Notts County‘s defence continues to astound: although not quite as ridiculously as Charlton‘s above, they’re still absorbing a lot of shots to take some of the pressure off a relatively shot-shy attack. Coventry are currently the most clinical shooters in the Football League, needing fewer than 6 shots to score on average. If they could carve out more chances without compromising their efficiency, they’d be a lot higher in the table.
Onto the penultimate set of charts, beginning with the state of League 2’s attacks:
York are still creating plenty of chances but finding goalscoring difficult, with only Mansfield more profligate in front of goal. Hartlepool‘s troubles are plain to see, with only WImbledon creating fewer chances but being almost twice as clinical with them. Top side Wycombe edge Stevenage as the sharpest attack, clearly making the most of a modest number of shots.
Next, let’s look at the defensive situation:
Again we have two clubs miles apart from the rest: both Plymouth and Luton have defended heroically this season. While not facing the same volume of efforts as Charlton or Notts County in the divisions above, they’ve been the Football League’s most resilient defences, at around double the divisional average. League 2 is also the only division where the least permissive defence (Shrewsbury) is facing under half as many shots per match as the busiest (Dag & Red).
Finishing up with the Conference, starting with the attacking situation:
Not much separates the sharpness of Barnet and Eastleigh up front, but the Bees have sustained that level of accuracy over a lot more shots. There aren’t any massive outliers here, with Nuneaton apparently improving, although Grimsby‘s productivity is very impressive and Bristol Rovers are surprisingly wasteful for a recently-relegated team.
Finishing up with the defensive picture:
A trio of clubs – Grimsby, Bristol Rovers and Macclesfield – have been defending admirably, and the rest of the division appears divided into two camps. Those on the left who keep things tight, and those on the right who allow their opponents plenty of opportunities to score. I’ve not seen as clear a divide as this before, so it’ll be interesting to see if it persists.