Scatter graphics: Championship, 17 Sep 2019

As it’s been a good few years since I last gave them a polish, I’ve updated my scatter graphic templates for their first outing of the new season. These compare the attacking and defensive performances of every team in a division – each of the four graphics is explained briefly below and at length here.

While you can read more about them in the link above, here’s a quick summary of the main changes that have been made:

  • The stripes now actually mean something – before they were useful contours but now they’ve been anchored to the historical data for each division.
  • Where possible I’ve used a 16:9 aspect ratio so that the graphics fit a smartphone screen, only reverting to a retro 4:3 when the plot gets too cramped.
  • The style now matches my other graphics more closely.

It’s worth flagging up front that the relative difficulty of a club’s fixtures so far can have a significant impact on where they sit at this early stage of the season.

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).


Leeds are out in front once again as the most dominant side, having created around twice as many chances as they’ve allowed. QPR and Sheffield Wednesday appear to have taken a step forward from last season, while Bristol City‘s presence in the play-off picture is a bit confusing given how much time they’ve spent on the back foot. Huddersfield‘s disastrous start is plain to see.

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:

I’ve had to break out of the mobile-friendly aspect ratio here due to the woeful finishing of Barnsley and Brentford. Both clubs have taken an above-average number of shots but have had terrible luck at converting them – I expect both records to improve as they appear unsustainably bad. Meanwhile Charlton, Preston and Bristol City owe their presence in the play-off places to some ruthless finishing.

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:

Another club flying high despite some less-than-stellar underlying numbers is Swansea, who sit second despite only three sides having allowed more shots at their goal so far. The Swans’ defence has been soaking up an impressive number of attempts for each goal conceded, with Charlton also having their defence to thank for keeping them competitive. Stoke‘s defence has been the leakiest despite the Potters restricting opponents to relatively few chances.

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:

When we adjust for shot quality, Leeds look incredible and streets ahead of anyone else, with their attack in particular setting them apart. Derby‘s struggles appear to be down to their permissive defence, as they’ve looked pretty strong going forward. Reading are worthy of a mention for how much better they look than last season.