We’ve got something new for you this week which we’re calling “Numerical Advantage“. We’ve sifted through reams of cold, hard data and analysed all the numbers that matter in order to give you the edge in your Championship punting this weekend.
We’ve also got some brilliant scatter plot graphics, comparing each club’s attacking and defensive performances so far this season, so you can really see where the match-ups and mismatches are most likely to occur. There’s a full explanation of these available further down the page, or simply click one of the graphics below to get stuck in.
Numerical Advantage: Championship, 25th October 2015
Middlesbrough v Blackburn
Blackburn – winless in seven matches and the third most wasteful finishers in the division – have just sold their most reliable goalscorer to the side with the meanest defence, and just in time for him to make his debut against them. Jordan Rhodes’ new employers Middlesbrough haven’t conceded more than once at the Riverside for a whopping 35 league games and have only shipped three goals there all season, while Rovers haven’t scored more than once in any of their last eight fixtures. Even if Blackburn can carve out some chances here, no club has seen more of their shots on target repelled than their 82.5% and Boro have saved a division-high 88.4% of their opponents’ goal-bound efforts, so the home side to win to nil is a tempting choice here @
Cardiff v MK Dons
Cardiff slipped to a 2-1 defeat at MK Dons on Boxing Day but look well-placed to avenge themselves here. Russell Slade’s side haven’t been beaten at home in 10 matches and have scored eight times in three games, while their visitors are one of the Championship’s worst away performers. The Dons have taken just three points from 11 trips to clubs currently above them in the table (i.e. most of them) and haven’t won or scored more than once on the road since they beat fellow strugglers Rotherham on the opening day of the season. It would therefore be a surprise not to see this one end in a home win @
Bolton v Rotherham
Backing a side with only three league wins to their name this season may seem a bit naive, but Bolton look the likelier to prevail here. Creating chances hasn’t been a problem – only six teams have taken more shots – but converting them has been an absolute nightmare. The 14.6 efforts they’ve fired in for each goal scored is four more than the average, but having netted more than once in three of their last four games they could well be turning a corner. The fact that they’re up against the division’s leakiest defence this weekend will surely help matters: Rotherham have conceded once for every 7.2 shots they’ve faced and have shipped multiple goals in each of their last four away trips. With the Trotters having only lost three times at home this season they appear under-rated, so there looks to be value in backing the home win @
Leeds v Nottingham Forest
Forest are certainly a hard team to break down – they’re unbeaten in their last 12 matches and haven’t conceded more than once in any of these games – but this solidity has come at the cost of a cutting edge. Over half of the matches in that run have been draws including all but one of their away trips, which is where they’ve had the most trouble breaking teams down. The last time they netted more than once away from the City Ground was back in September and they’re the division’s most wasteful finishers away from home, taking a whopping 17 shots for each goal scored. Hosts Leeds are far from prolific themselves, particularly at home where they’ve shot less frequently than anyone else – an average of just 11.4 efforts per match – and are the division’s joint-lowest scorers. All of this points to a frustrating afternoon for both sets of fans, so under 2.5 goals looks like a decent shout @
Fulham v Derby
Derby have had a terrible 2016 so far, having not won in six league matches, but this looks like a good chance to get their promotion challenge back on track. Fulham only have three points to show for their 15 encounters with top half sides this season and haven’t kept a clean sheet in 17 games, including their last 10 at Craven Cottage. In fact the hosts have only kept two teams out all season compared to Derby’s 14 (the second most) and don’t appear particularly good at exploiting their home advantage. Only two sides have shots less frequently in front of their own fans than their rate of 12.3 per game, while the 5.6 shots on target that they’ve allowed the average visitor is the highest in the Championship. Unless Derby’s spirits have been broken, the signs are pointing to an away win here @
Reading v Wolves
Reading have taken more shots than anyone else this season but many of them have been speculative: 56.4% of them have been struck from outside the penalty area, which is the highest in the division and helps to explain why it’s been 12 matches since they last scored more than once. Wolves know how to keep their opponents at arm’s length, with the 56.6% of the shots they’ve faced from outside the box also the largest share in the Championship, so the hosts could be in for a frustrating afternoon. The visitors have netted in each of their last 11 games, including six away trips, they stand a good chance of extending the Royals’ winless run to five matches. Wolves or the draw feels like a reasonable bet @
These are a quick visual way to compare all of the clubs in the division against each other. On the horizontal axis we have quantity (how many shots each club has taken or faced) and on the vertical we have quality (how many shots on average it takes them to score or concede). The thick lines sit on the averages for each axis, which divides each graphic into four quadrants. Just in case that doesn’t make sense, we’ve included some observations beneath each graphic that will give you the general idea.
In the top right we can see that both Reading and Nottingham Forest have fired in plenty of shots this season but the quality hasn’t always matched the quantity. Below them in the bottom right are league leaders Hull, who have been much better at making their dominance count. In the bottom left we have the strange cases of Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday, who don’t shoot very often but are still managing to score enough to sustain a promotion chase. In the undesirable top left are the almost equally rubbish attacks of MK Dons and Bristol City, who rarely shoot and seldom make a good job of it when they do.
Graphics – Defensive Effectiveness
In the middle of the top left we find Hull, whose defensive record would be the best in the division under normal circumstances, were it not for the freakishly resilient Middlesbrough back line which has soaked up over 21 shots for each goal conceded: more than twice the average. In the top right we can see that both Burnley and Birmingham have allowed opponents plenty of shots but soaked up a lot of that punishment – perhaps by design as part of a counter-attacking strategy – while below them in the bottom right are the division’s worst defences. Charlton in particular have allowed an obscene number of attempts at their goal, so it’s no wonder that they’ve been struggling. In the bottom left we can see that Reading and Huddersfield have struggled to deal with their opponents’ shots, so it’s just as well that they don’t allow many.
Data correct on Friday 5th February.