Scatter graphics: League 1, 2 Oct 2016

With most teams having reached double figures for matches played, it feels like enough time has passed to warrant a refresh of the scatter graphics for each of the EFL divisions. Each of the four graphics is explained briefly below but there’s a longer explanation here.

You can compare how things have changed by looking at the last set I produced here.

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. The stripes are like contours: the greener the stripe, the better the performance (and vice versa for red).


Bury remain the division’s most industrious shooters, creating almost twice the number of chances that its quietest, Port Vale, manage. However both clubs have allowed their opponents a similarly average quantity of attempts.

The most dominant clubs overall – in raw shot terms at least – are MK Dons and Bradford, while Walsall and Southend have spent the most time on the back foot so far.

The leading provider for neutral entertainment is Peterborough, whose matches see an average of around 27 shots each: around seven more than games involving Vale, Bolton or Rochdale have typically generated.

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:


Coventry‘s finishing is becoming progressively less wasteful, with five goals in three games seeing them sink back towards the average. However Oldham remain an unfortunate outlier with just one goal in their last five fixtures.

It looks like most teams are creating lots of chances or converting their efforts efficiently, but not both. The closest we have to a positive exception is Scunthorpe, whose big scorelines this season look to be driven by the division’s most ruthless finishing rather than a “gung ho” approach.

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:


Bradford‘s defence is by far the division’s best: nobody has allowed fewer shots nor soaked up more for each goal conceded. Way below them – in the bottom left – we find the confusing case of Millwall, who have been almost as effective as the Bantams at restricting their opponents but have leaked goals at an alarming rate: almost three times more readily.

The trio of Oldham, Coventry and Northampton all look to be allowing plenty of attempts at their goal and relying on a resilient back line to absorb them – it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up all 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:


Two sides stand out in the bottom right. Bradford have the second best-performing attack but are streets ahead of the rest defensively, allowing chances of roughly half the value that they’re creating themselves. Bury meanwhile are an even more potent force going forward but far less extraordinary at the back – it’ll be interesting to see which approach pays off more handsomely but both look on course to challenge for elevation to the Championship.

The other 22 clubs form two clusters at the moment, with Walsall looking the worst-afflicted of the seven sides towards the left of the graphic. Only Oldham‘s attack has looked less dangerous and nobody has been more vulnerable at the back, so last season’s promotion challenge looks set to be followed by a relegation battle.