Our weekly data-driven assault on the Championship is back
Numerical Advantage takes a look at the final weekend's Championship fixtures and picks out his best four picks for Saturday's 12:30pm 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, 7 May 2016
- Back Fulham to lead at half time and full time @
- Brentford to win away at Huddersfield @
- Ruthless Burnley to wrap up the title with win at Charlton @
- Back Wednesday or the draw when they clash with Wolves @
Fulham to finish on a high
Fulham have been on a poor run of late, but the visit of relegated Bolton provides them with the opportunity to end their season on a high. The Trotters haven’t won away all season and haven’t kept a clean sheet on the road in 15 attempts, conceding more than once in each of their last five.
Our attack graphic shows that the hosts remain one of the division’s sharper finishers and they should therefore be capable of unpicking their visitors’ leaky defence. Bolton have conceded more readily than anyone else in away matches, with an average of just 6.5 shots required to breach their defence.
Fulham score a lot of early goals, so backing them to be winning at half time and full time is tempting @
Huddersfield to get stung
After an awful start to the year which saw them lose 10 of their first 13 league matches in 2016, Brentford have clicked under Dean Smith and are finishing the season strongly with six wins in their last eight. Their attack – one of the sharpest in the division – can take plenty of credit for this turnaround: the average of 7.6 shots they’ve taken for each away goal scored is the best in the division.
Hosts Huddersfield look ill-equipped to deal with this level of ruthlessness: their defence has been the Championship’s leakiest at home this season with an average of just 7.1 shots faced per goal conceded. With the Terriers also having picked up just one win in their last seven attempts, the Bees look the likelier to prevail here.
Backing Brentford to record an away win looks tantalising @
Clarets to secure the title at Charlton
Incredibly, Burnley haven’t lost a league match since Boxing Day and have put together a 22-match unbeaten run to secure an immediate return to the Premier League. Their ruthlessness stands out on both of our graphics: they’re the sharpest finishers and have operated the division’s most stubborn defence.
Hosts Charlton stand out in a far less flattering way: only MK Dons have taken fewer shots and the Addicks have allowed the most in the division by far. Therefore it’s hard to see their home advantage counting for much here.
An away win for Burnley, which would guarantee them the title, looks a safe bet @
Wolves to end the season with a whimper
Wolves have lacked a cutting edge since Benik Afobe’s departure and they’ve struggled to finish games off lately, have drawn six of their last nine games. Only relegated MK Dons and Charlton have shot less often this season and, with each of their last four matches at Molineux ending 0-0, it’s no surprise to learn that they’ve created fewer chances at home than every other side in the division.
Only three clubs have allowed fewer attempts at their goal than Sheffield Wednesday, who are also in good form having lost just one of their last ten league matches, so it’s likely that Wolves’ season could come to a frustrating end here.
A draw looks likely, but it seems safer to back Wednesday or the draw @
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 have remained in the upper reaches of the table 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 5 May.