Scatter graphics: League 2, 7 Sep 2022

There have been just about enough matches played for a first outing of 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.

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).

There are no standout dominant teams in the division so far: Mansfield and Stevenage are edging it. Barrow‘s games see little goalmouth action overall but the scales are clearly tipped in their favour as they sit 3rd.

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 stretch this graphic out to fit poor Gillingham on without making the rest illegible: they’ve scored just once in seven games so far. This extreme level of profligacy surely won’t last.

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:

Grimsby have returned to the EFL with a defence that’s proving tough to break down. As the Mariners are allowing opponents a relatively high number of shots it will be interesting to see if their goal continues to live a charmed life.

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 it’s seventh-placed Mansfield who have impressed the most so far, with by far the most dangerous-looking attack and one of the sturdiest defences. Northampton games look to be fun for the neutral with good chances raining in at both ends, while Gillingham‘s matches have been far lower on quality overall.