Season update: League 1, 22 Dec 2015

Ahead of the busy festive schedule, I thought that it was a good time to take another look at how each of the League 1 clubs are performing using my scatter graphics. These are explained here if you haven’t seen them before.

Shot dominance

First of all, here is how the number of shots taken by each club compares with those they face in return. The average number of shots taken per match is on the horizontal and the average number faced is on the vertical, so bottom right (take plenty, allow few in return) is good while top left (take few, allow plenty) is bad:

L1 att def 2015-12-21

Peterborough remain a wildly entertaining side to watch, with over 30 shots raining in during an average match; the next most shot-heavy matches are Coventry‘s with around five fewer.

While the Sky Blues have taken the next most shots after the Posh, both Walsall and Burton have been more dominant overall due to allowing their opponents fewer attempts in return.

Both Crewe and Blackpool are spending significantly more time on the back foot than anyone else this season, so they will probably need luck to be on their side in order to avoid dropping out of the division.

It’s surprising to see the division’s bottom side Colchester among the most dominant shooters in the division – we’ll see what’s gone wrong for them later on.

Attacking effectiveness

Now let’s look at attacking alone. The horizontal axis stays the same as in the graphic above, but now the vertical shows the average number of shots needed to score each league goal. Therefore bottom right is good (taking lots of shots and needing fewer efforts to convert) and top left is bad:

L1 att eff 2015-12-21

Gillingham are the most clinical side in the division, having done very well to convert a relatively average number of chances into the second highest goal tally. They’ve out-scored both Coventry and Walsall despite taking almost four fewer shots per match and have taken around six fewer per game than Peterborough, the only team to have netted more often.

Both Doncaster and Scunthorpe have created a similar number of chances to the Gills but with far less effective results. It’s taken them around four more attempts to score each goal on average, with only Blackpool more wasteful.

While Crewe have taken fewer shots than the Tangerines, they have been much more successful – and not far off average – at converting theirs.

Defensive effectiveness

Next let’s look at the defensive situation – basically take the above chart and replace the word “taken” for “faced” on both axes. Now top left is good – facing fewer shots and able to soak up more per goal conceded – and bottom right is bad:

L1 def eff 2015-12-21

I mentioned Colchester in the first graphic and we can see here why their dominance of matches hasn’t translated into points: they’ve had an incredibly leaky defence. It’s taken fewer than four shots to score against them this season, which is half as many as the average.

At the opposite extreme it looks like Blackpool‘s defence is due the most thanks for keeping them out of the drop zone so far, having soaked up the most shots for each goal conceded despite also being one of the busiest.

Southend are only marginally less effective at absorbing shots which, along with an attack of above-average sharpness (see the previous graphic), is keeping them in the play-off hunt despite tending to be out-shot by their opponents this season.

Expected goals

Finally here’s an attempt at correcting the first graphic for the quality of chances created and allowed, using the same “expected goals” values that power my shot timelines (explained here). The reason for doing this is that the results tend to correlate more strongly with performance than when we treat all shots equally:
L1 exp 2015-12-21It’s interesting to see Sheffield United among the better attacking performers here given their relatively modest placement on the first graphic. This suggests that they are prioritising quality over quantity and a look at the data backs this up: they have taken the division’s highest percentage of shots from inside the six yard box (13%) and inside the penalty area overall (68%).

Both the Blades and Coventry look to be building their promotion challenges on a strong attack rather than a particularly robust defence, while the opposite can be said of both Wigan and Bradford.

Bury‘s recent fading from the promotion picture after a strong start looks less mysterious here, as they have performed relatively averagely overall. If we cast our eyes back to the second (attacking) graphic we can see that they’ve been unusually clinical in front of goal, but perhaps not enough to sustain a play-off push.

Despite their recent upturn in fortunes we can see that Martin Ling still has plenty to do at Swindon, who have been among the worst performers at both ends of the pitch.