Five matches to watch: 29 Sep 2015

It’s always easier to ignore the Champions League when there’s some lower league action to follow instead, and there are plenty of interesting match-ups this evening. Using my new scatter plot comparisons (compact versions of these) for illustration, here are five midweek matches that caught my eye:
Brentford v Birmingham

This game will surely be garnering a lot of attention after Brentford surprisingly parted ways with Marinus Dijkhuizen after just eight league matches. While they had certainly underachieved – particularly in defence as we can see above – it does seem a rash move at first glance and it will be interesting to see what will change under interim boss Lee Carsley. Birmingham – themselves arguably overachieving so far – are one of only two sides to have allowed opponents more shots than the Bees this season, so there could be plenty of goalscoring opportunities here.
Burton v Sheff Utd

League 1’s surprise leaders host its biggest club (in attendance terms at least) here, with newly-promoted Burton doing what people have been expecting of Sheffield United for many a season. The Blades’ underlying performances look to have been better than their results so far and it will be interesting to see how their attack – one of the division’s most clinical – fares against the Brewers’ dogged defence.
Accrington v Yeovil

I love a good outlier – particularly the unfancied ones – and two of them are facing each other here. Yeovil seem either unwilling or unable to shoot this season while Accrington seem pretty good at stopping people from getting shots away, so it’ll be fascinating to see what the away side can carve out against such a formidable barrier.
Leyton O v Carlisle

Two of League 2’s most exciting attacks meet here, with Carlisle the division’s current top scorers and Orient just one goal behind them. Both have created plenty of chances and dispatched them clinically, but at the other end of the pitch they’re chalk and cheese. Carlisle’s opponents have actually outscored them thanks to the Cumbrians’ permissive defence, while Orient have been relatively organised at the back. I’m hoping that the long midweek trip won’t dull Carlisle’s attacking edge so that we’ll see the contest the data promises.Newport v Crawley

These two sides have had the division’s worst luck in front of goal so far, but with neither being particularly solid defensively it gives both teams an opportunity to build some confidence in attack. Of course this could prove to be a dire, barn door-evading display of doomed haplessness, but it seems far too early to be writing these two off and it will be interesting to see which of them approaches this game the more positively.