Scatter graphics: League 1, 17 Sep 2017
As every EFL club now has now played a decent number of matches, it’s borderline-justifiable to chuck their data into the scatter graphics to see how things are shaping up. Each of the four graphics is explained briefly below and at length 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).
Wigan have been the division’s most dominant side so far, taking over twice as many shots as their opponents, while both Northampton and Gillingham have spent a lot of the season on the back foot.
Peterborough are in the top right quadrant as usual, although their attack is looking more good than their defence is bad.
Newly-promoted Doncaster and Portsmouth have adapted better in defence than attack so far, but both already look like top half teams overall.
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:
Plymouth haven’t had much luck up front so far: despite creating a decent number of chances they’re the division’s most wasteful side, with Wimbledon not far behind.
There’s an even more extreme case at Southend, who rank fourth for both number of shots taken and the average number of attempts required to score each goal.
Fleetwood have been all about quality rather than quantity so far, with fewer chances created than anyone except Northampton but the most clinical attack in the division.
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:
I was selfishly hoping that Scunthorpe would concede at Doncaster today so that this graphic would look less ridiculous. The Iron have soaked up over 30 shots for each goal that their opponents have scored, which is very unlikely to be sustainable.
League leaders Shrewsbury have also benefited from a resilient back line so far, with Wigan‘s miserly defence also absorbing a lot of punishment for each goal conceded.
Gillingham have been asking a lot of their defence, while Southend have been one of the better sides at restricting their opponents’ opportunities but are leaking with frustrating regularity.
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:
Wigan look to be the most impressive performers overall, with Rotherham and Oxford also solid at both ends on average.
It’s not surprising to see Oldham at the bottom of the table, given that only Wimbledon have created worse chances and only Gillingham have allowed opponents better opportunities overall.
Southend and Doncaster both look to be excelling in one department – attack and defence respectively – and performing adequately in the other, so on this evidence I expect both to climb the table.