League 1 previews, 19 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 Sheffield United and Scunthorpe both at home to clubs struggling at the sharp end, it’s likely that they’ll each be able to further consolidate their positions in the promotion race.

Coventry‘s trip to Oxford looks the most finely-balanced match this weekend, with only Bradford looking likelier than the Sky Blues to rack up an away win.

Individual matches


This should be a fascinating encounter, pitching together two clubs expected to finish the season in promotion contention. The main difference between them so far has been their fortunes in defence, with Bolton soaking up the most shots for each goal conceded and Millwall the fewest, although strangely they doesn’t seem to be much difference in the quality of the chances they’ve allowed opponents.

Two of the division’s busiest attacks meet here, although Bristol Rovers’ efforts have been by far the more dangerous. Despite their poor start, MK Dons have allowed the second fewest shots overall – their main problem has been keeping them out – so it will be interesting to see how difficult they can make it for their hosts to build momentum.

Charlton are once again managerless, which makes their performance today tougher to predict. With Port Vale’s performances tailing off badly this season I’m expecting them to drop out of the top half soon if things don’t change, but they have chance to take advantage of the off-field chaos here. Otherwise, Vale’s incredibly quiet attack could find itself frustrated by the Addicks’ relatively stubborn defence.

Chesterfield’s ratings have been falling steadily this season so this looks like one of Fleetwood’s more winnable home games. The hosts haven’t looked that much more effective than the Spireites in attack but have been converting their chances more reliably and should get plenty of opportunities against one of the division’s most permissive defences.

With these two sides better at attacking than defending at the moment, this Nene derby could well have a few goals in it. These two only played each other a month ago, with the Posh winning 3-0, so Northampton haven’t had long to wait for a chance at revenge. The Cobblers will need some of the attacking ruthlessness that’s powered their recent rise however, as few defences have soaked up more shots for each goal conceded than their visitors’.

Two industrious but wasteful attacks meet here, with Coventry perhaps the likelier to improve their strike rate considering how tough their defence has been to break down this season. Both clubs have been underachieving so far, with Oxford in particular performing far better than their results suggest, so a home win looks the likeliest outcome.

Both of these sides have proven adept at restricting the number of shots they’ve faced this season, although neither has dealt particularly well with the chances that their opponents have been able to carve out. However with both attacks having been more wasteful than average, this doesn’t appear to have the ingredients of a high-scoring game, although it’s one that Rochdale should be expecting to win based on their substantially better performances so far.

Scunthorpe’s defence remains more impressive than their attack despite the latter stealing most of the headline this season, so the visit of the division’s worst-rated and most wasteful attack represents a clear opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table. Oldham’s defence has performed far more respectably and has absorbed even more shots per goal conceded than their hosts’, so even if the Latics struggle for goals themselves the scoreline should remain respectable.

It’s not yet clear how much of an impact a change of manager will have on Shrewsbury’s dire ratings, but it’s safe to say that it would take something special for them to get a result here. Sheffield United look strong at both ends of the pitch and their performances have improved significantly after a disappointing start to the season, so it’s hard to look past the home win here.

Bradford’s attack looks to be finding some long-awaited fluency, with 10 goals scored in their last three games, but Southend have also in good form at the moment. However the Shrimpers’ performance have remained relatively modest overall and they may struggle to create enough chances to break down their visitors’ formidable defence.

These two sides are performing at a very similar level at the moment, ratings-wise, but while both have been relatively quiet going forward but are far less alike at the back. Walsall have been attempting to repel a high volume of shots while Gillingham have leaked regularly from a far more respectable number of efforts allowed, so it will be interesting to see whose forwards prevail here.

For the third season running now, Bury have flown out of the blocks only for their bubble to burst just as rapidly. Avoiding an eighth successive league defeat will be a challenge against a well-adapted Wimbledon, who look solid at both ends of the pitch and have lost just one of their last ten. While the Shakers have rattled in an impressive number of shots this season, a leaky defence has undermined their industry at the other end of the pitch.