Scatter graphics: League 2, 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).

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 and Cheltenham both having started far more explosively than they did last term.

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.

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 two most productive attacking sides – Newport and Cheltenham –  have also struggled to convert their chances, with Wycombe the only one of the five busiest shooters to have an above-average shot conversion rate.

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.

I’d be worried about Port Vale‘s attack – for the second consecutive season – and both Chesterfield and Morecambe – could do with some better luck in front of goal.

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:

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.

Morecambe are a regular occupant of the top right quadrant, to an extent that suggests a tactical choice. Only Cambridge have soaked up more shots for each goal conceded so far, albeit from a far healthier number of chances faced.

Newport may be a bit wasteful up front, but their defence has also been making their opponents’ life difficult, while Wycombe and Port Vale‘s ability to restrict the number of shots they face isn’t really paying off due to their leakiness at the back.

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:

Nobody is standing out as more dominant that the rest: the cluster of Exeter, Cheltenham and Newport all look fantastic going forward but nowhere near as strong defensively, while Coventry head a cluster of solid defences parked behind more average attacks. Wycombe and Mansfield are looking the most balanced as it stands.

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.