League 1 previews, 12-13 Nov 2016

Below are the individual preview graphics for each of the weekend’s 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 based on the ratings;
  3. Scatter graphics showing the teams’ attacking and defensive performance this season.

Before we launch into them, here’s each match is listed in descending order of how likely a home win is. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but this is NOT betting advice – there’s loads of relevant stuff that the model doesn’t factor in (e.g. injuries and suspensions) that will surely have an impact.


With several of the division’s better-rated sides on the road this weekend and a few others having tricky home games, Bury are given the best chance of a home win by the model despite their recent struggles.

Millwall are given a good chance of besting high-flying Bristol Rovers despite their troubles at the back, which appear to owe more to bad luck than anything systemic.

Both of the current bottom two – Chesterfield and Shrewsbury – host highly-rated opposition and are therefore given relatively slim chances of victory despite having home advantage.

Individual matches


Both of these clubs have looked more convincing in defence than in attack, so perhaps this will be a low-scoring affair. Bradford have the division’s best-rated defence while Rochdale have allowed opponents fewer chances than anyone else. However both are also deservingly part of the promotion race and should be looking to assert themselves here. The Bantams’ performances may have dipped lately but their strong ratings make them clear favourites. 2016-11-12-bury-southend

Bury’s promising start to the season is already a fading memory but they won’t get many better chances than this to end their six-match losing streak. Southend have been making modest improvements at the back but don’t appear to have enough about them going forward to take advantage of the Shakers’ vulnerable defence. Only Port Vale have taken fewer shots this season, so they’d need an unusually good day at the office to outscore their hosts here. 2016-11-12-coventry-scunthorpe

Coventry finally look to have discovered their scoring touch, which is bringing their average shot conversion down to less hilarious levels, and the visit of one of the division’s best defences will be a tough test of how much they’ve progressed. Scunthorpe’s attack has grabbed most of the headlines this season and remains League 1’s most clinical, so it will be interesting to see how they fare against a back line even more stubborn than theirs. 2016-11-12-gillingham-northampton

Gillingham’s performances are far below the level they achieved last season, which makes this a winnable game for Northampton. The Cobblers operate a ruthless attack that compensates for a permissive defence – three of their six league wins this season have come despite them conceding twice in each – which suggests that the visitors will at least get on the scoresheet against the division’s third most porous back line.


Bristol Rovers have taken more shots per match than anyone else in the division this season so it will be interesting to see how well one of its better-rated defences can contain them. Despite having restricted opponents’ chances relatively effectively this season, Millwall have been the leakiest side in the third tier – having failed to keep a clean sheet since the opening day – so they may need to score more than once against a far less impressive visiting defence to prevail here.


MK Dons continue to look far better than their league position suggests, so there’s a good chance that they can climb out of their current rut. While Walsall have climbed the table recently this looks to be down to the fixture list rather than an uplift in performances. Their last four games have been against clubs currently in the bottom seven, so it’s premature to assume that they’re improving. 2016-11-12-oldham-wimbledon

Oldham have failed to score in 10 of their league matches this season – the most in the EFL – and are considered less likely than Wimbledon to prevail here. The visitors have adapted well to League 1 and a recent surge in performances has left them looking capable of a top half finish. The Latics have made it almost as hard for teams to score as it has been for their own strikers, so this may not be a high-scoring game. 2016-11-12-port-vale-fleetwood

Port Vale’s stay in the play-off places always looked likely to be brief thanks to their quiet attack, and a recent deterioration in their defence means that they could have quite a bit further to fall. Fleetwood also had a brief stay in the top six that looks unlikely to be repeated this season, although they look to be in far better shape than their hosts and are therefore narrow favourites here. 2016-11-12-shrewsbury-oxford

It remains to be see what effect Paul Hurst can have at Shrewsbury, but his new employers’ current predicament means that he will have his work cut out avoiding a quick return to League 2. The Shrews’ ratings have been deteriorating for some time, driven by a poor defence that Oxford look well-equipped to exploit. The visitors have been underachieving massively this season thanks to a wasteful attack, but their performances suggest that an away win here is well within their reach. 2016-11-12-swindon-charlton

Swindon’s performances have been concerning this season and it looks like they’re in for a tough weekend when Charlton visit. The Addicks still find scoring difficult but continue to look strong in defence and appear capable of a top half finish despite their underwhelming start. Their hosts’ own lacklustre showings in front of goal offer little hope of outscoring their visitors here. 2016-11-13-chesterfield-sheff-utd

Sheffield United are strong favourites to take all three points on Sunday despite being the away side. The Blades have found another gear recently and now rank among the division’s top performers, while Chesterfield’s wasteful attack and permissive defence have seen them suffer five consecutive defeats without scoring. A sixth is far from unlikely here, unfortunately. 2016-11-13-peterborough-bolton

The other Sunday game sees Peterborough attempt to end Bolton’s five-match winning run, with success dependent on whether they can tighten up their defence without stifling their attacking output. While few teams can match the Posh’s goal threat, it tends to leave them open at the back and only some heroic defending has kept them in the top half of the table so far. Their visitors look capable at both ends of the pitch and are even more stubborn at the back, so a disciplined performance will be required to make home advantage count.