Championship Stat Pack: Dike, Davies, double bubble & deductions

After the FA Cup weekend, we’re back for some more Championship action this week and Benjamin Bloom has delved into the numbers to reveal some interesting stats and possible bets with Betfair. 

 

The xG Files – West Brom
It’s impossible to look at the Championship xG stats and not look twice at West Brom, who have by far the biggest underperformance in terms of attacking xG of any team in the division. Based on the quality of their chances this season, the Baggies would have expected to score 45.7 goals – 14.7 more than the 31 they have actually managed to muster.

In the past eight games, West Brom have failed to score five times, resulting in three 0-0 draws and two 1-0 defeats; on every occasion, a single goal would have resulted in an increase in points. The thoroughly toe-curling number for Baggies fans is 7.97, the number of xG they recorded in those five shut-outs, suggesting they should have been closer to eight goals than zero.

Looking at individuals, Karlan Grant can hold his head high having scored nine goals from an xG of 8.54. Grant has dovetailed well with Callum Robinson, but Robinson has underperformed his xG by over two goals by hitting five from an xG of 7.35. The biggest culprit is Jordan Hugill, who has only scored one goal this season from a wholesome 5.53 xG. For context, Reading’s John Swift and Coventry’s Matt Godden have scored eight goals each from a similar xG.

The solution for West Brom may already be at The Hawthorns, with manager Valerien Ismael reuniting with USA striker Daryl Dike. Dike and Ismael teamed up at Barnsley last season for a brilliant run that saw the Tykes claim an unlikely fifth-placed finish. Dike’s xG at Barnsley was less than Hugill’s so far this season at 5.17, but he turned those chances into nine goals with the sort of conversion rate that could solve West Brom’s problems.

QPR v WBA – Daryl Dike anytime scorer

 

The Ugly Side – Curtis Davies
Derby ‘signed’ Curtis Davies this summer with very little fanfare given the 36-year-old had been with the Rams since 2017. With his contract expired, Davies was by definition a free agent, but with Derby under embargo, securing Davies along with Phil Jagielka is looking like shrewd business by boss Wayne Rooney.

Knowing they were building on a foundation of two ageing centre-backs, Derby have protected Davies and 39-year-old Jagielka. As Rooney knows only too well from his latter playing days, the mind will make up for what the legs used to be able to do. Davies has done the ugly side beautifully – nobody at Derby makes more interceptions or blocks per game, and he leads the Championship for clearances at 5.8 per game.

The individual work of Davies and the strong defensive set-up of Rooney and assistant Liam Rosenior shows up most obviously in the goals against column. The three teams that have conceded fewer goals than Derby this season are in the top four, where only West Brom, Fulham and leaders Bournemouth have a better record. According to xG against figures, Derby are overperforming defensively and could have expected to concede nine more goals. If the Houdini-style escape is more than a flight of fancy, Davies and co will need to keep doing the ugly side.

Derby v Sheff Utd – Under 1.5 goals 15/8 (Betfair)

 

Derby County and Mike Ashley might be a perfect marriage

 

Double Bubble – Harry Wilson
The data boffins have already left the station where assists are concerned and moved onto far more detailed methods of measuring player creativity. The rest of us mere mortals, especially the thousands of FPL players, do still pay attention to the humble assist. I’ll be the first to acknowledge they’re wildly imperfect and understand why those working in the game don’t value someone tapping a free-kick to the taker the same way as a perfectly judged through ball.

As with most stats, assists are best used in conjunction with other information to prove a point and perhaps the ‘goal contributions’ number is a little more helpful. Adding together goals and assists really shows us who is at the sharp end in terms of a team’s scoring output. In the same way a 20-goal striker is heavily sought after, any player able to hit double figures for both goals and assists will certainly be too.

Over the previous campaign the roll of honour is pretty select – there was Fulham’s Tom Cairney in 16/17 and Ipswich’s Martyn Waghorn 17/18. Four players did it in 18/19: Said Benrahma of Brentford, Leeds’ Pablo Hernandez, Lukas Jutkiewicz at Birmingham and Nottingham Forest’s Joe Lolley. Jed Wallace of Millwall was on his own in 19/20 with Brentford’s Ivan Toney and Norwich’s Emi Buendia joining the list last season.

This campaign, the two players most likely to go double bubble are Fulham’s Harry Wilson and Reading’s John Swift, with both players already on eight goals and nine assists. Given where Fulham and Reading are positioned you’d imagine Wilson is favourite, especially if Reading do cash in on Swift. I’m sure Aleksandar Mitrovic will probably cobble ten assists together by the end of the season; if West Brom get their shooting boots on, Callum Robinson could get close; and if he’s on the pitch regularly, never bet against Billy Sharp.

Fulham v Bristol City – Harry Wilson anytime assist

 

The Long View – Fighting A Points Deduction
With all the talk of the two Derby points deductions, it’s easy to forget this season that Reading have also been docked six points for FFP infractions. It’s interesting to ponder the effect of removing points from a team’s total, not just to them but to those around them. A league table is a reactive organism and each point won and game played not only has an effect on those involved but everyone else too. Over the past ten seasons there have been five clubs deducted points.

Last season Sheffield Wednesday were deducted 12 points in the close season, later scaled back to six on appeal. After showing signs of life at the turn of the year, Wednesday were ultimately relegated, but only after a crazy final day showdown with Derby who survived. The points deduction did mean a low tide at the bottom. Derby survived with 44 points, one fewer than the ten-year average.

In 2018/19, Birmingham City were deducted nine points during the season for their FFP issues. The deduction had no bearing ultimately on promotion or relegation, with Blues finishing in 17th when their ‘real’ league position would’ve been 15th. That season with both Bolton and Ipswich whipping boys in the bottom two and Rotherham only just cracking the 40-point mark, another low tide meant Birmingham were nowhere near relegation.

The final two teams with deductions are Wigan in 2019/20 and Portsmouth in 2011/12. Both sides went into administration with Wigan docked 12 points and Pompey 10. Wigan were particularly hard done by with their sudden administration. Paul Cook’s side had been excellent and would have finished 13th on 59 points. The deduction saw Wigan relegated with 47 points, a number that would guarantee survival on average over the past ten years. The Portsmouth deduction in 2011/12 occurred with a very odd-looking bottom six, with Doncaster and Coventry marooned and an eight-point gap up to Barnsley on a decent total of 48. Pompey would’ve survived with their pre-deduction total of 50 points, but were plunged to relegation with a final 40 points total.

In summary, prior to this season all teams who received a points deduction would have survived relegation if the points were added back on. The fact only one of the deductees survived suggests that the type of situation a club receiving a deduction is often in makes those minus points very decisive.

Middlesbrough v Reading – Boro to win 4/9 (Betfair)

 

Odds correct at the time of publication. 18+ Please Gamble Responsibly. Visit begambleaware.org

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