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Numerical Advantage: A 20/1 Championship Fourfold featuring Burnley, Derby, Preston & Brentford


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, 16 April 2016

  • An easy win for Derby against Charlton @
  • Preston to win against MK Dons and 1 or 2 total goals @
  • Over 2.5 goals when Brentford and Bristol City clash @
  • Burnley to beat Birmingham and keep the title race open @

Derby to leave Charlton on the brink

Even when Derby’s form tanked at the start of the year their performances continued to look strong, suggesting a blip rather than a sign of weakness. Overall only two clubs have taken more shots at goal and only one has allowed opponents fewer on target in return.

Charlton have looked out of their depth all season – we can see from our graphics that they’ve taken fewer shots than anyone else and allowed the most by far. We correctly predicted that the Rams would relegate Bolton last weekend and it looks like they can shunt the Addicks to within a whisker of joining them here.

Derby to win feels like the only sensible way to go here @

Preston to stick the boot in

MK Dons beat Preston to automatic promotion from League 1 last season but the Lilywhites, who went up via the play-offs, have adapted far better to the second tier. While our attack graphic shows that both clubs have been wasteful in front of goal, they’re poles apart when we look at the defensive picture.

The Dons are in free fall, having lost four games in a row and conceding 10 goals in the process, plus they look doomed enough for both player and fan morale to be low. Preston aren’t the sort of side to dish out a battering – they’ve only scored more than twice in one game this season – but they look organised enough to close out a home win here.

There looks to be value in backing Preston to win and 1 or 2 total goals @

Brentford and Bristol City to throw caution to the wind

Both of these clubs have impressed up front recently. Brentford have won three on the trot, netting three goals in each, while Bristol City have racked up a 6-0 and a 4-1 in recent weeks as they’ve pulled away from the relegation zone.

It’ll be interesting to happen to see what happens when these two in-form attacks meet, given that both clubs have one of the division’s five leakiest defences. You can see them both huddled near the bottom of our defensive graphic, which hopefully means that we’ll see plenty of goals here.

On recent evidence, over 2.5 goals feels like the way to go here @

Burnley to keep the title race interesting

They may have looked unconvincing against Leeds last week, but Burnley won anyway and are now unbeaten in 18 league matches. Even when they’ve not played well, the Clarets’ ruthless attack and stubborn defence – just look at where they are on our graphics – have seen them grind out results.

While Birmingham’s defence has done a passable impression of their visitors’ this season, their attack has looked nowhere near as resourceful and their recent collapse in form has all but eliminated them from the play-off race. With the Blues not having netted more than once in any of their last six home matches, Burnley should have enough of an edge to take the points here.

Birmingham’s bubble looks to have burst, so the Burnley win looks likeliest @


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.

Attacking Effectiveness

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 the Royals are Hull, who have also kept defences busy and 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 sustain a promotion chase thanks to some excellent finishing. 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 defence of 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 relegation trouble. 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 permit many.

Data correct on Thursday 14 April.

Graphics courtesy of Ben Mayhew (@experimental361)

What do you think?