League 1 previews, 27 Sep 2016

Below are preview graphics for each of the midweek games. These smash together minimalist versions of two visualisations: each club’s E Ratings and their relative positions on the attack and defence scatter graphics. I’ve explained them fully here, but in summary they’re intended as a simple pre-match comparison of two teams using high-level performance data. The graphic has three sections:

  1. The current ratings (with ranks) of the two teams and how these have changed over the past 30 league matches;
  2. A probability forecast for the match;
  3. Scatter graphics showing the teams’ attacking and defensive performance this season.


Bradford’s defence has looked formidable this season and is driving a huge rise in their E Ratings – if they can get their attack firing a little bit more then there’d probably be no stopping them. Visitors Fleetwood appear unlikely candidates to put too many dents in the Bantams’ back line, having seen their attacking output dwindle of late.


Things aren’t looking great for Oldham at the moment, particularly up front where they’ve been struggling for a while now and are having no luck at converting their chances. Their defence has soaked up a heroic amount of punishment but will probably struggle to keep a solid-looking Charlton out.


Chesterfield’s recent improvements in attack are being undermined by the number of shots they’re allowing their opponents, but unless Gillingham’s leaky defence tightens up then the home side can probably outscore them. The visitors haven’t been able to match last season’s performances so far and their attack looks to have been declining for a while.


Coventry’s awful record in front of goal is gradually improving and at home to Wimbledon’s relatively porous defence it may do so further. The Sky Blues’ own defence has led a charmed life at times this season however and could set them back further if they don’t start to contain opponents more effectively.


Bury have rattled in a ridiculous number of shots this season – the most in the division by far – but it’s cost them some of their defensive solidity. MK Dons’ own back line looks to have been somewhat unlucky so far and they’ve been performing better than their league position suggests, so the Shakers shouldn’t underestimate them.


Another side who shouldn’t be written off are Millwall, whose performances have been relatively solid but sabotaged by some lousy luck at the back. Port Vale operate one of the division’s quieter attacks so may struggle to force an opening here.


These two clubs have allowed similarly few shots at their goal but with very different results so far. Bolton have been as resilient as Dale have leaky and it seems that there’s not as much between them as the league table would have you believe. The hosts have massively underachieved so far and should prove a tough opponent for the Trotters.


Sheffield United’s E Ratings survived their early season blip, although their attack remains uncharacteristically quiet overall. Rovers’ struggling defence will be hoping their hosts have another off day, but their forwards look capable of causing problems of their own.


Shrewsbury’s defence is the division’s worst-rated and has been getting worse of late, which doesn’t bode well for the visit of its highest-ranked attack. However Peterborough’s own back line is the next ropiest after their hosts’, so there could be goals aplenty here.


Southend are struggling at both ends of the pitch this season, although their problems look to have been a long time in the making if the E Ratings are to be believed. Visitors Oxford are adapting well to League 1 – their slightly wasteful finishing has been offset by a robust defence – and they look capable of piling more misery on the Shrimpers.


Swindon have put in some improved performances lately but the visit of Northampton – whose own renaissance has been going on for much longer – offers a tough test. The Cobblers have allowed a similar number of shots to their hosts but dealt far more capably with them, although they’ve been far quieter up front.


It’s unclear how much lower Walsall’s ratings will fall but they’re unquestionably a shadow of last season’s squad. Scunthorpe’s free-scoring attack has been more clinical than anything else and has distracted from a solid defence that should be equally – if not more – capable of causing the Saddlers problems.