Scatter graphics: League 2, 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).


Portsmouth are still comfortably the most dominant shooters overall down in the bottom right hand corner. They take more than double the number they face in return, although Blackpool – who beat them recently in a close match – have created slightly more chances.

While Mansfield have allowed almost as few efforts at their goal as Portsmouth, they’ve taken around six fewer shots per match and are among the division’s quietest attacks. Spare a thought for Morecambe, who create similarly few chances to the Stags but have to deal with around 11 more per match in return – around four more than anyone else.

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:


The three busiest attacks – those of Blackpool, Portsmouth and Grimsby are all among the more wasteful finishers (albeit two of them just barely), with Luton and Doncaster seemingly striking a more effective balance between quality and quantity in the bottom right.

Barnet and Leyton Orient have also seen some industrious attacking largely go to waste thanks to some wayward finishing, while in the bottom left Hartlepool remain the most clinical side in the fourth tier despite being among the least frequent shooters.

Exeter are struggling with both the quality and quantity aspects of attacking so far it seems – slightly more so than Cambridge or Mansfield – although it may be fairer to judge them once their injury crisis eases.

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:


Plymouth‘s defence is still soaking up just shy of double the number of shots per goal conceded than the average team – between their resilience and Morecambe‘s permissiveness this graph is still pretty stretched out.

A cluster of defences directly beneath the Pilgrims are also absorbing an impressive amount of punishment, with Barnet at least compensating for the wasteful finishing we saw above by making life almost as difficult for their opponents.

It’s interesting to see the likes of Portsmouth and Doncaster – who met yesterday – in the bottom left: both have excelled at preventing their opponents from shooting but struggle to deal with what does get through.

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:


When we correct for shot quality Portsmouth are still leading the way overall but aren’t consistently getting the results to go with their performances. Both Luton and Doncaster have also been impressively dominant and – as the attack graphic above shows – have fared better when it comes to making their chances count.

In the top left Morecambe and Newport appear to be in the most trouble overall, while Mansfield are clinging doggedly to the bottom left corner with what looks like a “safety first” approach. Nobody has a lower attacking output but only Pompey have been less permissive at the back.

Comparing this graphic with the league table suggests that Crawley are the biggest overachievers so far – sitting fifth despite their quiet attack and average defence – while 22nd-placed Cheltenham are sitting far lower than their slighty-above-average performances would suggest.