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, 28th February 2016
- A Blackburn home win @
- Back the away win for Burnley @
- Charlton & Reading under 2.5 goals @
- Back Boro or the draw with BTTS @
A wasted journey for MK Dons
Even though these two sides sit fairly close together in the lower reaches of the table, Blackburn have put up far more of a fight than MK Dons this season. While neither side has had much luck with their finishing, as our attack graphic below shows, Rovers have at least taken a decent number of shots and their defence has looked pretty solid.
Their visitors haven’t scored more than once in any of their last 10 matches and have taken fewer shots in away games than anyone else: an average of just eight per match. With only two home teams allowing fewer attempts at their goal per game than Blackburn’s 9.1, Paul Lambert’s side should be able to keep them out for long enough to find the net themselves.
Backing a Blackburn home win makes sense @
Burnley to pile more misery on Bolton
You only have to look at our graphics to see how tough this will be for Bolton: they’ve been wasteful up front while Burnley have a rock-solid defence and their own leaky back line is up against the division’s most ruthless finishers.
The Clarets are unbeaten in 10, conceding just three goals in this stretch, and have enjoyed themselves against clubs in the lower reaches of the table this season. In eight matches against the current bottom five they’ve scored 23 times and again conceded just three in return.
The home side haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine attempts and will be without first-choice goalkeeper Ben Amos due to injury, with striker Gary Madine’s involvement dependent on how much he’s prepared to grovel after being dropped for disciplinary reasons last week.
The away win is an easy recommendation here @
Charlton and Reading are likely to disappoint
The home crowd at the Valley have endured eight successive games since struggling Charlton last recorded a home win – the longest run in the division – and with visitors Reading winless in their last 10 away trips nobody will be queuing up optimistically outside the ground here.
While the Royals take plenty of shots they haven’t scored more than once in any of their last 15 league games: you can see from our attack graphic how wasteful their finishing has been. However their defence has only been breached three times in nine matches against the current bottom six, so their hosts will struggle to outscore them.
Backing under 2.5 total goals looks the way to go @
Fulham to fall short against Boro
Fulham have been one of the division’s most clinical finishers this season but they’re up against Middlesbrough’s ridiculously resilient defence this weekend. Their record against stronger opposition is far from encouraging: they haven’t won any of their 15 matches against top half sides this season, taking just five points from a possible 45.
Home advantage is unlikely to count for much either, with the Cottagers allowing more shots than any other home side – an average of 15.2 per game – and taking the third fewest in return, so even Boro’s out-of-form attack should get enough opportunities to find the net.
The visitors may have been out of sorts lately but it’s still been 15 matches since they’ve conceded more than once in a league game and they looked convincing in their 3-1 win over Cardiff in midweek.
Opposing Fulham offers short odds, but if you mix in both teams to score with Boro or the draw they look much more enticing @
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 26th February.