League 1 previews, 28 Jan 2017

Given that there’s a cup-depleted EFL schedule this weekend I haven’t produced any permutations graphics, but to balance things out I’ve gone into a bit more detail with the previews.

Below are the individual preview graphics for each game in the forthcoming round of fixtures. 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.

2017-01-28-bolton-charlton

These two sides have both been modest going forward and stubborn at the back, so I’m not expecting a goal-fest here. Bolton look clear favourites, having sustained solid overall performances while Charlton have deteriorated under Karl Robinson. With the Addicks’ attacking threat in particular waning, a home clean sheet wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
2017-01-28-bristol-r-swindon

Rovers look heavy favourites here, having made improvements to their leaky defence while sustaining an impressive attack. Their visitors’ own performances have been steadily deteriorating for some time and some wasteful finishing this season means that they’re unlikely to exploit any remaining gaps in their hosts’ defence.
2017-01-28-bury-walsall

Bury’s defensive performances have been horrific this season, although it’s unclear if the division’s second-quietest attack will be able to take full advantage. Walsall look in better shape than the Shakers overall, although not enough to cancel out the effect of being the away side here.
2017-01-28-fleetwood-southend

This should be a fascinating clash between two sides on the up and with legitimate promotion aspirations. Fleetwood look far better at the back than going forward while Southend’s improvements up front have been the more dramatic, so the battle at one end of the pitch will be particularly interesting.
2017-01-28-gillingham-shrewsbury

Shrewsbury have been steadily improving since their change of managers – particularly at the back – and will fancy their chances of taking something from a club just three places above them (albeit with a game in hand). Gillingham have made a managerial change of their own but have been more disappointing than genuinely terrible, so they remain favourites for this one.
2017-01-28-northampton-coventry

These two teams are in decline so this is a tricky one to call. Northampton’s defence has sprung leaks lately but with visitors Coventry deteriorating most noticeably in attack they may not have many better opportunities to steady the ship. The Sky Blues are the division’s second most wasteful finishers (after Oldham) and allow opponents almost as many chances as the Cobblers, so the hosts will surely be targeting a big performance.
2017-01-28-oldham-bradford

With Bradford improving up front and still operating the division’s best-performing defence, a trip to misfiring Oldham offers a strong chance of an away win. The Latics’ best hope is that their own stubborn defence can frustrate their visitors’ own wasteful attack, although it’d need to be an all-action performance given the number of chances that the Bantams tend to create.
2017-01-28-peterborough-mk-dons

Two of the division’s busiest but more wasteful attacks meet here in what could therefore prove to be a ding-dong battle. With the Posh looking far more suspect in defence they’d do well to try and suppress their visitors’ opportunities and they could well benefit from the ongoing leakiness of the away rearguard.
2017-01-28-scunthorpe-port-vale

Clinical finishing and a stubborn defence has bridged the gap between top six and top two for Scunthorpe so far this season and they won’t get many better chances to register another three points than this. Port Vale have been the quietest attack in the division almost from the off, while their recent defensive deterioration has made them the division’s worst-ranked team overall.