Scatter graphics: Championship, 5 Nov 2019
As it’s been a month since the last batch, it feels worth updating the scatter graphics. 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.
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 continue to set the standard at both ends of the pitch, with the most shots taken and the fewest faced. Preston were momentarily top of the table over the weekend (for the first time in nearly 13 years) but they’ve looked more “safety first” than “they don’t like it up ’em” this season. Charlton and Huddersfield have both spent a worrying amount of time on the back foot.
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:
Here we can see why Leeds aren’t running away with the title: for all that shooting they’ve struggled to find the net regularly. Charlton are one of the most shot-shy teams in the division – and have taken seven fewer shots per game – but are out-scoring them so far. Middlesbrough have it worse though: despite creating a respectable number of chances they’ve needed almost three times as many attempts to score each goal than sharp-shooting Preston.
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:
While the Leeds attack has some questions to answer, there’s no arguing with that defensive performance: not only the fewest shots allowed but also the most faced per goal conceded. Swansea and Nottingham Forest are almost as resilient despite allowing opponents plenty of opportunities – it’s not clear whether they’ll be able to keep that up though. QPR’s defence are letting them down a bit so far: despite not having that many shots to deal with, only struggling Stoke have repelled fewer for each goal conceded.
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, it’s still Leeds who are out in front: West Brom run them close in attacking terms but their defence is relatively average, while it’s the other way around for Brentford. Huddersfield are turning things around under their new management team but it looks like the attack still needs work. If Barnsley are to avoid returning to League 1 then it’s their defence which needs to be toughened up.