Numerical Advantage is back this week with his four best bets from this weekend’s Championship matches.
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 in the weekend’s league games 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, 19th February 2016
- Burnley to win to nil @
- Cardiff and Brighton to draw @
- Wolves and Huddersfield both to score @
- Plain sailing for Fulham at home @
Burnley to make short work of Rotherham
Burnley go into this match as one of the form teams in the promotion race. They’re on the division’s longest unbeaten run of eight matches, having scored 18 and conceded just three in return, while lowly visitors Rotherham are winless in five and have been turned over by two of their fellow relegation strugglers during this spell.
The Clarets have been particularly ruthless at dispatching teams in the bottom eight, having won all ten of those encounters and scoring 27 goals to their opponents’ five. It’s these sorts of results that have given them the best shot conversion rate in the division (as our attack graphic below shows) while the defence graphic reveals that the visiting Millers have the most porous back line and their hosts one of the hardest to breach.
It’s therefore likely that Burnley can win comfortably here, so backing them to win to nil is tempting @
Yet another draw for Cardiff and Brighton
League leaders Hull are the only side to have beaten Cardiff at home in the league this season, with the 11 visitors who’ve failed since then giving the Welsh side the longest home unbeaten run in the division. However Russell Slade’s side have drawn as many matches as they’ve won here (seven of each) and with visitors Brighton having drawn ten of their away games – the most in the division – we could be heading for another stalemate here.
Brighton are back in form at the moment, unbeaten in five, and have lost just one away game all season, but five of their six matches at top half sides have been draws and they’ve only won once on the road since mid-October. The defence graphic below shows that Cardiff’s defence has been relatively stubborn, so this could be another frustrating afternoon for Chris Hughton.
All things considered, the draw looks like great value @
Both the Wolves and the Terriers should bite
This match brings together two out-of-form teams, but as our attack graphic shows they’ve both remained among the sharper finishers in the division. In fact Huddersfield have netted in each of their last 13 league matches – the longest run in the top two tiers – and both have drawn just seven blanks in the league this season, fewer than all but two clubs.
Wolves have been marginally more clinical than their hosts in front of goal – only four teams have taken fewer shots for each goal scored – and could take advantage of the Terriers’ leaky back line. Our defence graphic shows that the home side have faced fewer shots for each goal conceded than everyone except struggling Rotherham.
Given that these two are out of sorts, it feels safer to steer clear of a result prediction and instead back both teams to score @
Expect more flat track bullying from Fulham
It’s difficult to back Charlton under any circumstances this season: as our graphics show, they’ve taken fewer shots and allowed more than anyone else in the division. The Addicks have been particularly vulnerable on the road: the average of 5.8 shots on target they’ve allowed per away match is also the Championship’s highest.
Fulham have one of the division’s sharpest attacks, taking almost three fewer shots for each goal scored than the average club, so they look well-equipped to take advantage of their visitors’ generosity. The home side have also performed strongly against the teams around them: they were unbeaten against bottom half clubs until their midweek loss at Blackburn, who are a lot better than their position in the table makes them look.
The home side have both the tools and the opportunity to bounce back here, with the home win @
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 poor attacks of MK Dons and Charlton, who rarely shoot and tend not to 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: around twice the average. In the top right quadrant we can see that both Burnley and Birmingham have allowed opponents plenty of shots but soaked up a lot of that punishment – perhaps on purpose 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’re in a relegation battle. 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 Thursday 18th February.
Graphics courtesy of Ben Mayhew (@experimental361).