Scatter graphics: League 1, 27 Sep 2017

As most EFL clubs have now now played 10 matches, it’s worth a proper update to the scatter graphics to see how things are shaping up. Each of the four graphics is explained briefly below and at length here.

Shot dominance

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 around twice as many shots as their opponents. Meanwhile both Northampton and Gillingham have spent a lot of the season on the back foot, due to a shot-shy attack and overly-permissive defence respectively, which has surely contributed to both changing managers already.

Peterborough are in the top right quadrant as usual, although along with Charlton and Bristol Rovers their attack is looking more good than their defence looks bad.

Newly-promoted Doncaster and Portsmouth have adapted better in defence than attack so far, but both already look like top half teams overall.

Attacking effectiveness

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:

The trio of Wimbledon, Plymouth and Gillingham haven’t had much luck up front so far: they’re comfortably the most wasteful finishers in the third tier. Argyle have struggled to find the net despite creating a respectable number of chances for a newly-promoted side.

Meanwhile 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.

Peterborough are the only one of the five most industrious attackers to have converted their chances at an above-average rate.

Defensive effectiveness

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:

Every season there’s a team which starts with a graphic-breaking level of performance – nobody likes a show-off, Scunthorpe. The Iron’s defence has been imperious so far, to an extent that I can’t see lasting over a whole season (and therefore the next iteration of this graphic will hopefully look less stretched).

Surprise league leaders Shrewsbury have also benefited from a resilient back line so far, and Wigan‘s miserly defence is also absorbing a lot of punishment for each goal conceded.

Gillingham have been asking a lot of their back line, while Southend have been one of the better sides at restricting their opponents’ opportunities but are leaking with frustrating regularity.

Expected goals

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 at both ends, and therefore look well-equipped to bounce straight back into the Championship.

The trio of PeterboroughRotherham and Southend have looked impressive going forward but less so at the back, while the reverse is true for Doncaster and Scunthorpe so far.

Three of the current bottom four – OldhamGillingham and Plymouth – unfortunately look to be there on merit, while fellow strugglers Northampton and Wimbledon have seen decent defensive performances undermined by blunt attacks.