Scatter graphics: Ligue 1, 4 Jan 2017
I realised that it’s been unforgivably long since I took a look at the major European leagues with my scatter graphics. Each of the three graphics is explained briefly below but there’s a longer explanation here.
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).
It’s not a shock to find PSG in the bottom right corner and – while Lyon are creating marginally more chances – nobody comes close to the champions at preventing opponents from shooting.
In the opposite corner we can see that Metz are spending plenty of time on the back foot, having created the fewest chances and allowing far more than anyone else.
Surprisingly, table-toppers Nice have only taken a modest amount of shots and allow the second-most. Something strange is going on, which the next two charts will help us understand.
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:
Starting with the elephant in the room, we can see that Nice have been more clinical in front of goal than anyone except free-scoring Monaco, which goes some way towards explaining their lofty league position.
Both PSG and Lyon also look pretty handy up front – certainly more so than Nantes or Angers, who have both struggled to convert their chances this season. This is particularly agonising for the latter, who have only been out-shot by three other clubs yet only sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference thanks to their profligacy.
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:
Nice‘s overachievement is even more profound in defence: they’ve soaked up over 10 more shots than the average side for each goal conceded, which is pretty crazy and – if I’m honest – unlikely to last unless they’re doing something very special.
An honourable mention goes to Saint-Etienne, who are also absorbing a lot of shots but keeping an impressive percentage of them out.
At the opposite end of the scale bottom side Lorient also sit lowest here, having conceded more readily than any other team despite allowing a fairly respectable number of shots. If you look back to the attacking graph, some wasteful finishing has undermined an above-average number of chances, so it wouldn’t take much of an improvement for them to start collecting points.