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, 30 April 2016
- Over 3.5 goals when Brentford meet Fulham @
- Under 2.5 goals between Ipswich and MK Dons @
- Wolves to win at the City ground @
- Sleepy Owls to fail to score first half goals @
Nets to bulge regularly at Brentford
As you can see from our graphics, both Brentford and Fulham are among the Championship’s five most ruthless finishers but also have one of the six leakiest defences, so there’s a distinct promise of goals in this one.
Fulham haven’t kept an away clean sheet in their last 16 attempts – the longest run in the division – and, despite Brentford dropping just two points from six matches prior to being beaten at Hull, the Bees only kept one clean sheet.
Over 2.5 goals looks a bit short, but over 3.5 is more enticing @
Ipswich and MK Dons to continue sleepwalking
If the last match screamed “goals” then this dreary-looking dead rubber mutters “avoid”. Both Ipswich and MK Dons are in dire form: winless in seven and nine matches respectively, with neither scoring more than once in any of these games.
Neither set of players were able to raise their game when there was something to play for, so it’s difficult to imagine them finding another gear now that the Tractor Boys are out of the play-off race and the Dons have already been relegated.
Backing under 2.5 goals should provide a much-needed pick-me-up for anyone planning to sit through this game @
Wolves to run amok in the Forest
It’s been a season to forget for both of these teams: you can see from our attack graphic that Forest have been the division’s most wasteful finishers while the only two clubs to have taken fewer shots than Wolves have both been relegated.
The visitors look to have a slight edge here though: they’re the Championship’s fifth sharpest finishers in away games and only Middlesbrough have scored more headers than their 14. Meanwhile Forest have allowed more headers at their goal than anyone else: the 144 they’ve had to deal with accounts for almost a quarter of all the shots they’ve faced.
It looks like there’s value in an away win here @
The Owls could take a while to wake up
This will undoubtedly be a tense match, with Sheffield Wednesday hosting the only club still able to steal their play-off spot. Both they and Cardiff have been in poor form – each winning one of their last five – and the Owls know that a draw would be enough for them to secure sixth place.
The hosts have started games cautiously all season, having netted the division’s smallest percentage of goals before half time – just 34% – while only 32% of the goals conceded by their visitors have arrived in the first half. Therefore we’re not expecting a strong start from the home side.
Sheffield Wednesday to score no first half goals is a tempting punt @
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 the Royals are Hull, who have also kept defences busy and have been much better at making their dominance count. At the base of the graphic we have the strange cases of Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday, who don’t shoot particularly 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 an impressive number of shots for each goal conceded and don’t allow many efforts in the first place. In the top right quadrant we can see that Burnley – and to a lesser extent 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 surprise that they’re heading to League 1. 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 28 April.