We’ve got something new for you 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, 13th February 2016
QPR v Fulham
Things are looking up for QPR after their solid win over high-flying Ipswich last week and there’s plenty to suggest they’ll secure another three points here. Only five sides have taken more shots in front of their own fans than Rangers’ average of 15.9 per match while the 14.7 allowed per game by Fulham is higher than anyone except struggling Charlton. The home side have also scored 11 headed goals, second only to Ipswich and also the same number that the Cottagers have conceded; the most in the division. Add this to the fact that it’s been 18 league games since the visitors last kept a clean sheet – comfortably the longest run in the division – and it looks like there’s value in backing the home win @
Derby v MK Dons
Despite creating the better chances, Derby could only draw last week and it ended up costing Paul Clement his job, which seemed a bizarre decision given how strong they have looked this season. They certainly look too good to be winless in seven and the visit of an MK Dons side without an away victory in 14 is surely a dream start for interim manager Darren Wassall. The visitors have looked consistently blunt in attack this season, scoring a division-low 24 goals including just 10 away, while the Rams have 14 clean sheets to their name: only Middlesbrough have more. All things considered, the odds of the home team winning to nil are attractive @
Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield
A glance at the form guide suggests a home win, with Forest on the division’s longest unbeaten run – 13 matches – while their visitors have lost three in a row. However this is unlikely to be a procession for the hosts, with Huddersfield having netted in each of their last 12 matches and all of their last nine away trips – both are also the longest such sequences in the second tier – so there’s no guarantee that Forest can make it five clean sheets in a row here. Backing the home win with over 1.5 goals scored could be a way to get more value @
Reading v Burnley
This match pits the division’s most wasteful finishers against its most clinical, with the average of 14.4 shots taken by Reading for each goal scored more than double Burnley’s 7.1. The Royals haven’t scored more than once in any of their last 13 Championship games – the longest run in the division – while Burnley haven’t conceded more than once for seven matches and registered a convincing win over Hull last time out. The away win therefore looks tempting @
Sheff Wed v Brentford
It feels like there should be goals in those one, given that it brings together two of the division’s most clinical finishers. Only Burnley have taken fewer shots for each goal scored than Sheffield Wednesday’s 7.9 while Brentford are the fourth sharpest with 9.1. With the hosts unbeaten in 12 league matches at Hillsborough and the Bees having only taken two points from a possible 39 against sides in the top nine, a home win with over 1.5 goals scored looks like a decent punt @
Charlton v Cardiff
Charlton were quickly brought back down to earth after their win over Rotherham when fellow strugglers Bristol City beat them at the Valley last week to leave them without a home win in seven. The Addicks have taken the fewest shots and allowed the most this season, while also failing to keep a clean sheet in their last 10 attempts, which will encourage a Cardiff side who look to be rediscovering their scoring touch. The Welsh side have scored three goals in each of their last two away games and it looks relatively safe to back them to win here @
Brighton v Bolton
We successfully called Bolton’s win last week but despite their upturn in form it makes more sense to oppose them here. The Trotters are without an away win in 17 matches and despite some spirited attacking performances their defence usually lets them down. The average of 6.8 shots they’ve faced for each goal conceded on the road is the lowest in the division and Brighton look well equipped to exploit this vulnerability. The 4.9 shots on target that the Seagulls have registered per home match is the second most in the division and with Chris Hughton’s side having won three on the spin this is a bad time to be playing them. The home win makes the most sense @
Leeds v Middlesbrough
Backing under 2.5 goals paid off for us last week when Leeds hosted Nottingham Forest’s strong defence and it feels likely to do so again with the visit of an even tougher back line. It’s taken an average of over 20 attempts to find a way past Middlesbrough – the highest in the division – while their hosts have only fired in 11.4 shots per home match this season, which is the lowest. Boro’s recent scoring troubles are a further source of optimism here: both they and Leeds have scored just twice in their last four league matches, so it feels sensible to get on under 2.5 goals @
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 20 shots for each goal conceded: almost 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.