written by – Rangers Report
It’s very early in the season but it is safe to say some early trends in the Scottish Championship season are likely to carry on for the foreseeable future. Teams like Rangers & a resurgent Hibs will be leading the pack, while teams like Alloa Athletic & Livingston will be fighting to save their spot in Scotland’s second tier. The middle of the pack teams will attract the most intrigue as they fight to keep their decent form from the start. Falkirk, Queen of the South, & Morton are bunched together at the moment & their stats seem to indicate that they will sustain their form. Meanwhile, a team like Raith Rovers, may be fortunate to be part of the middle of the pack & could very well take a turn for the worse.
Now that we are getting closer to the quarter mark of the season, I decided to trot out a model of interpreting teams shot dominance vs. their shot effectiveness. This three-pronged examination is directly borrowed from Ben Mayhew’s coverage of the English lower leagues at his site: Experimental 3-6-1.
We’ll begin by simply looking at which teams dominate the shots taken in a match. Basically this is a visual representation of Total Shots Ratio. Along the horizontal axis is shots taken per game, while going along the vertical axis is shots allowed per match. Teams in the bottom right of the graph are taking lots of shots, while limiting shots from their opponents. This would be an indicator of which teams are likely to be among the tops in the division. Teams in the upper left are likely to be among your worse teams – they are allowing a lot of shots without taking many of their own.
- Rangers (0.79) & Hibs (0.67) have the top two best Total Shots Ratio in the Championship. Rangers number is not a surprise & the extent of their dominance cannot be overstated. They are outshooting teams 18-5 on average. Hibs may be in the middle of the table, but are poised to take the #2 spot sooner, rather then later.
- Alloa (0.27 TSR) is on the other side of the spectrum. The team lost some quality players this summer & the effects have been damning. They are being outshot per match 18-7.
- Morton matches are full of action. They average 15 shots per match, while allowing 12.
- St. Mirren (0.37), Livingston (0.40), & Raith Rovers (0.39) are in a cluster of poor teams who are being outshot by a significant margin each match – their TSRs are indicated in parenthesis. St. Mirren is the big surprise here, given that they were in the top flight last season. Only Alloa generates less shots per game then St. Mirren. The same pertains to shots against — St. Mirren & Alloa are the two worst teams in the division again.
- Queen of the South (0.54), Dumbarton (0.52), & Falkirk (0.54) are teams that Mayhew contends have a “quiet attack & quiet defence.” They are outshooting the opponent but aren’t necessarily generating tons of shots themselves. For example, Dumbarton outshoots its opponents 9-8 per match.
Now let’s add a little more depth to this analysis by looking at how effective teams are while on attack. Again on the horizontal axis you will see the average shots per game by teams. This time the vertical axis will represent the average of how many shots teams take per goal that they score.
- Rangers are the only team that would be classified as a Constant Threat. As Mayhew states, these are “teams that take more shots per match than average and are also better than average at converting them.” Rangers take the most shots in the Championship & also need the fewest shots to score goals. They have scored a goal every 4.8 shots. Falkirk is the next most effective at 5.4, but they take eight less shots a match then Rangers do.
- Hibs & Morton are Energetically Wasteful. “These teams shoot more often than average but are below average at converting them.” Getting shots has not been been a problem for these teams, but converting on their chances certainly has. Hibs take an average of 15 shots per game, but need an average of nearly 11 shots to snag a goal. Morton averages 14.7 shots per match & needs, remarkably, an average of 14.7 shots to score a goal. That’s a lot of energy devoted to little effect.
- Raith Rovers, St. Mirren, Queen of the South & Falkirk have been Languidly Clinical, basically – “the flipside of ‘energetically wasteful’, these teams shoot less often than average but need fewer attempts than the average team to score.” Falkirk scores on every 5.4 shots which is the second best in the Championship, but they only average 9.8 shots per game. So if they can increase their number of shots, they have the potential to be one of the more effective teams at this level.
- Then we get to Alloa Athletic, Dumbarton & Livingston, who Mayhew would classify as being Ineffectual. “the worst of both worlds, these teams take fewer shots than average and require more efforts to score each goal on average.” The most ineffectual of these teams is Livingston who average 8.2 shots per game & only average a goal on every 12.3 shots.
We can apply the same method to measure how effective each team’s defensive efforts have been in limiting shots & consequently, limiting goals. Along the horizontal axis you will see the average shots each team faces per match, while going up the vertical axis is the average number of shots faced per goal scored against.
Again, I’ll be applying Mayhew’s descriptions:
- This one may surprise you. but the most effective defence this season has been Hibs. They are the only one that could be classified as Formidable. Mayhew explains that these are, “teams that allow fewer shots per match than average and have also withstood more shots than average side for each goal they’ve conceded.” The league average for shots faced per game is 10.6, while the average shots faced per goal is 8.9. Hibs faces an average of 7.4 shots per match, while facing 12.3 shots per goal. Besides the effective shot suppression, Mark Oxley has had a strong season & is among the leaders in Goals minus Expected Goals.
- This is not to say Rangers have been bad defensively, they have actually been very good. This is due to having the best shot suppression in the Championship, as they only allow 4.8 shots per game. Their average shots per goal (8.2) is only slightly below the average. A few more strong outings & they will likely be joining Hibs in that Formidable category.
- Currently Rangers is in the mix with Falkirk, Queen of the South & Dumbarton as teams who are Avoiding the Issue. “These teams permit opponents fewer attempts than average but their defence requires a lower-than-average number of shots to penetrate.” Rangers is a bit of an outlier here given the few shots they face. The other three are more appropriately placed in this category. For example, Dumbarton only allows 8.3 shots per game, but they also allow a goal for every 6.25 shots faced – which is quite poor.
- The opposite of avoiding the issue would be Morton who are Competent but Busy & in Morton’s case ‘very busy’. These are, “teams that face more shots per match than average, but as for ‘formidable’ sides they have absorbed more shots than average for each goal conceded.” Morton has defied the odds, so far. They face twelve shots per match, but remarkably only allow a goal every 18 shots! This is a trend that will be very difficult to sustain.
- Finally, we have Raith Rovers, St Mirren, Livingston & Alloa Athletic – the Pushovers. “The worst of both worlds, these teams allow more shots than average and require fewer efforts to breach than the average.” Alloa & Livingston are the worst of the bunch. Alloa faces 17.7 shots per game & allows a goal for every 7.1 shots faced. Livingston is even more woeful given that they allow 12.3 shots per match & allow a goal for every 5,3 shots faced.
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