Scatter graphics: League 2, 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).
Coventry are the most dominant side overall: taking just under 13 shots per match and allowing a shade over half that in return. There are plenty of teams who’ve created more chances though, with Newport still leading the way after their explosive start.
Not for the first time, Yeovil and Port Vale are struggling to carve out a decent number of efforts, although at least Vale aren’t allowing all that many in return.
It’s safe to say that Lincoln have made the transition to the EFL more comfortably than Forest Green so far.
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:
Accrington and Exeter are looking the most dangerous overall: creating plenty of opportunities and making them count. Meanwhile Port Vale‘s wasteful finishing is exacerbating the problems caused by the low volume of chances they’re creating.
Cheltenham have been one of the most productive attacking sides this season but have struggled to convert their chances, although this weekend’s win – seemingly overdue – makes their numbers look a bit healthier.
Some clinical finishing is papering over the cracks for Yeovil at the moment, but they’re unlikely to maintain that sort of shot conversion over the whole season.
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:
Leaders Exeter have been soaking up an impressive – and probably unsustainable – number of shots for each goal conceded so far. Morecambe are a regular occupant of the top right quadrant, to an extent that suggests a tactical choice.
Coventry‘s defence has looked impressive from the beginning – they’ve allowed far fewer shots than anyone else – so if they can get their attack firing then they’ll have a strong platform to build on.
Wycombe‘s defence has been one of the division’s leakiest so far, but the low number of opportunities they’ve allowed opponents suggests that their defensive record should start to improve.
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:
Three sides – Newport, Exeter and Cheltenham – have looked more dangerous than the rest going forward, but none have looked anywhere near as solid defensively. The likes of Coventry, Notts County and Lincoln are in the opposite situation: resilient at the back but offering less up front, so it’ll be interesting to see which clubs last the distance.
Forest Green look to be in real trouble already: while fellow strugglers Port Vale have created a similarly low volume of chances they at have at least looked decent at the back, while Rovers have also been the division’s worst defensive performers.