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, 2 April 2016
- Hull to bounce back against Bristol City@
- Fulham to win the dogfight with MK Dons@
- Wednesday to pinch the points at Huddersfield @
- An away win for Birmingham at the Valley @
Hull to bounce back against Bristol City
Hull are winless in five and have slipped from first to fourth, but their performances have remained strong, which suggests that they’ve mostly been unlucky. Over those five matches the Tigers have taken 95 shots to their opponents’ 47, getting 26 on target while facing just 14 in return.
These numbers are actually better than their season-long averages of 15.6 shots and 4.8 shots on target per match – both the best in the division – and they’re up against one of the Championship’s most porous defences here. Only two clubs have faced fewer shots for each goal conceded than Bristol City’s average of 7.9 and nobody has soaked up fewer efforts on target for each time they’ve been breached than the Robins’ 2.4.
Therefore backing Hull to return to winning ways is a decent shout @
Fulham to win the dogfight with MK Dons
With both Fulham and MK Dons circling the drain this will surely be a tense battle, but the hosts’ habit of scoring early could give them a huge advantage. The Cottagers have netted the division’s largest percentage of goals in the first half (59.6%) and have the best shot conversion before half time (16.1%) so are likely to strike first here.
Their visitors have been rubbish at coming from behind – in the 20 matches in which Karl Robinson’s side have been in a losing position, they’ve only recovered one point from the 60 available – so if Fulham get their noses in front they’re likely to stay there.
Backing Fulham to be winning at half time and full time is therefore tempting @
Wednesday to pinch the points at Huddersfield
There’s an argument to be made that Huddersfield have underachieved this season but the reality is that they’ve often been found out against the division’s better sides. In their 13 encounters with the current top seven (a group whose membership includes this weekend’s guests Sheffield Wednesday), the Terriers have taken just two points and conceded at least twice in 10 of those games.
Their defence – the division’s second-leakiest – looks likely to let them down again against the Owls’ attack, which has been one of the most clinical. Only leaders Burnley have been better at converting chances than the away side, who look likely to find the net here.
The away win therefore looks enticing @
An away win for Birmingham at the Valley @
Charlton have only lost one of their last four but they’re up against one of the best-organised clubs in the division here. Only three teams have kept more clean sheets than Birmingham’s 15 and the Blues have a habit of raising their game away from St Andrews: they rank third for both the number of shots taken per away game (12.4) and the most shots soaked up per away goal conceded (15.8).
Their hosts may be capable of springing the odd surprise like the 2-0 win over Middlesbrough, but that came during Aitor Karanka’s mini-strop and they were brought swiftly back down to earth when Sheffield Wednesday cruised past them 3-0. With the Addicks having drawn more blanks than anyone else (18) and looking pretty suspect on both of our graphics, they look unlikely to prevail here.
Again an away win looks the best way to go @
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 1st April.