Our weekly data-driven assault on the Championship is back
Numerical Advantage takes a look at the weekend's Championship fixtures and picks out his best four picks for Saturday's 3pm kick offs
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, Saturday 12th March 2016
- Back Hull to win to nil @
- Back early goals at Craven Cottage @
- Back the draw as Nottingham Forest meet Sheffield Wednesday @
- Back under 2.5 goals when Bolton meet Preston@
Tigers to dish out a mauling
One of the division’s busiest attacks hosts one of its quietest here: just look at how far apart they are on our attack graphic. When we just look at shots on target the difference is even bigger, with average of 5.3 that Hull have fired in per home match being the best in the division while the 2.6 that MK Dons manage in a typical away match is the worst.
With the Tigers also operating a pretty mean defence and allowing the average visitor just 2.2 shots on target – again the best in the second tier – it looks unlikely that the Dons’ attack, which couldn’t even break down Charlton in midweek, will be able to match their hosts here.
Will a Hull victory looking very short, backing them to win to nil looks a better bet @
A fast start at Craven Cottage
We’re likely to see a brisk start to proceedings here given that two clubs have netted two of the three highest percentages of goals in the first half this season. Fulham breached Burnley’s tough defence twice before half time in midweek to bring their share of first half goals to a division-high 58%, while Bristol City aren’t far behind with 56%.
The Cottagers are the division’s most lethal first half finishers by some distance, converting 16% of their chances compared to the average of just over 9%, and are up against one of the few defences leakier than their own here.
There looks to be good value in backing over 1.5 first half goals @
Forest and the Owls to cancel each other out
They may get plenty of shots away but, as our attack graphic shows, Forest have been the Championship’s most wasteful finishers this season. It’s been eight games since they’ve scored more than once and even though visitors Sheffield Wednesday are in poor form, the Owls haven’t conceded more than once in any of their last 10 outings.
The silver lining for Forest is that their opponents have had just as hard a time scoring, thanks to their stubborn defence. The away side have been one of the division’s sharper finishers over the course of the season but the goals are drying up: they’ve netted just once in their last five matches.
With both clubs’ performances stuttering, backing the draw is tempting @
More frustration for Bolton and Preston
Finishing has been Bolton’s biggest problem this season: they massively out-created Ipswich in midweek (by 23 shots to six) but still needed a late penalty to salvage a draw. A glance at our defence graphic shows that Preston’s back line will be even tougher to break down while the attack graphic indicates a team that also struggles to convert their chances.
Therefore we’re unlikely to be spoiled for goals here: the visitors have been involved in more 0-0s than anyone else (eight) and only two clubs have allowed opponents fewer shots on target per away match than their average of 3.5.
Two disappointing attacks and a stubborn away defence makes backing under 2.5 goals look attractive @
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 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 top left we find the formidable defences of Hull and Middlesbrough, who have soaked up far more shots for each goal conceded than anyone else and don’t allow many efforts in the first place. In the top right quadrant we can see that Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham have allowed opponents plenty of shots but absorbed a lot of that punishment. Below them in the bottom right are the division’s worst defences with Charlton in particular allowing 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 have to deal with many.
Data correct on Thursday 10th March.