Scatter graphics: Championship, 14 Dec 2021
It’s been inexcusably long since I refreshed the scatter graphics, so here’s a full pre-Christmas set. 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).
West Brom and Fulham have both dominated their matches so far and look capable on securing a return to the Premier League. Promotion challengers Bournemouth have looked strong defensively but are creating surprisingly few chances.
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:
Bournemouth‘s attack may not be shooting much but along with Blackburn they’ve been ruthless at converting the chances they’ve had. West Brom meanwhile have found it hard to turn their high volume of chances into goals, with shot conversion also being a big problem for the likes of Barnsley, Hull and Birmingham.
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:
The Derby defence has been the division’s most resilient by far this season, although not as much of an outlier as it was early on. Cardiff are having a frustrating season at the back, having conceded the second most goals despite a relatively average number of shots faced.
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, Fulham and West Brom remain the standout teams in attack. Middlesbrough aren’t far behind them defensively, with Luton and Sheffield United also looking better than their current mid-table league positions.