Attack breakdowns: League 2, 27 Sep 2017

Another graphic that I can justify switching back on at this stage of the season is the club-by-club attack breakdowns. These are explained in detail here, but in summary they are simple scatter graphics that work as follows:


Each graphic shows a club’s main attacking players: those who have:

  1. Featured for at least a third of their total pitch minutes in the league this season, and
  2. Taken an average of at least one shot per game.

The size of each player’s bubble is proportional to the percentage of possible minutes that they’ve played.

Each player’s bubble is plotted on a chart with the two axes working like this:

  • On the horizontal axis we have their goal threat, based on the “expected goals” value of shots taken per 90 minutes. This is effectively a measure of the combined quality of their goalscoring chances.
  • On the vertical axis we have their scoring rate, using a less abstract measure of actual number of goals scored per 90 minutes.

Both axes exclude penalties, as those can massively skew a player’s contribution away from the threat they pose from open play.

There’s a shaded “stripe” which indicates the long-term shot conversion rate of all finishers except the top and bottom 10%, so we can identify those whose performance may be unsustainable (i.e. unlikely to be repeated next season). If a player is above the stripe, they’re converting chances at a rate consistent with someone in the top 10% of finishers, and likewise a player below the line is in the worst 10%. Based on what we know about the specific player, we can therefore take a view on whether we expect their scoring rate to continue.

Club-by-club graphics

Shaq Coulthirst has stepped seamlessly into the injured John Akinde’s shoes at Barnet, with Wycombe‘s Adebayo Akinfenwa the only other player to lead his team’s line with an output of over half an expected goal per game.

Cheltenham‘s Danny Wright and Exeter‘s Liam McAlinden also look pretty dangerous but have underachieved in front of goal so far – it wouldn’t surprise me to see either start banging in goals more frequently.

Conversely I’d expect Yeovil‘s Olufela Olomola and Notts County‘s Jorge Grant to cool down a bit, such is the disconnect between their goalscoring rate and the chances they’ve been getting on the end of. Something similar happened to Grant’s team-mate Jon Stead last season.

The fortunes of the two promoted teams make for an interesting contrast. Lincoln‘s graph is incredibly busy, with 10 players meeting the criteria of having taken a shot per match and playing at least a third of the Imps’ possible league minutes. Forest Green on the other hand have just two players who make the cut.