It’s been quite a while since my last post and for that I apologise, but sometimes life gets in the way. In any case, it’s worth reminding ourselves of how the Championship table looks right now.
|12||Queens Park Rangers||32||9||13||10||38||39||-1||40|
|21||Milton Keynes Dons||32||8||7||17||25||44||-19||31|
The top six are separated by just seven points with a four point gap to the chasing pack currently led by Cardiff, though both Birmingham and Ipswich have a game in hand on the Bluebirds.
As we’ll see when we start looking at the shot metrics, for all bar one team this gap is pretty well deserved.
At the wrong end of the table a five point gap divides the three relegation spots and MK Dons (more on them later) in the final position of safety.
Looking at the three shot share vs PDO (luck/variance) charts we can see a fair bit of detail in what sees the teams in their respective league positions.
But one of the most telling graphs from my data is how the teams compare at level score. This brings out some very interesting results and may indicate how the end of the season will play out. Certainly it reveals further depth about how the table has come to its present shape.
At the top, Burnley's massive PDO (driven by a vast save %) has been masking a poor overall shot share and this could very well come back to bite them later on in the season. If any team was to "do a Derby" again this year, it would most likely be the Clarets. I have a very big soft spot for Tom Heaton, but sooner or later a few unlikely shots are surely going to start bouncing in and that could well ruin Burnley.
Both Middlesbrough and Hull, while riding high PDO scores, have very good shot share metrics at level score, so that should see them through if they suffer a funk at either end of the pitch.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, it’s noticeable that Bolton and Bristol City (and to a lesser extent Rotherham) are actually not too bad with regards to driving play when at level scores.
Unfortunately, all three of these have suffered horribly in the PDO stakes and this has rather ruined their seasons - if you're getting burned in front of goal when at level score then you've got a mountain to climb just to get a point.
Charlton, by this measure, look dead and buried already, conceding almost two thirds of all shots when at level score.
But despite all three teams’ maladies, an uplift in PDO could bring them into range of safety – and that would leave MK Dons the prime target.
When I left off in November I’d promised a piece on MK as part of my look at the three promoted teams – so consider this a protracted fulfilment of that pledge.
What exactly has changed in that time for MK Dons? Basically nothing, including Karl Robinson’s position as manager.
(As an aside, full credit to the MK Dons board for standing by Robinson this season. Whether it is through choice or simply lack of any better or affordable alternative, it is in many respects commendable to see.)
Back around week 18 they had a shot share of roughly 44%, unblocked shot share of roughly 44% a shots on target share of around 39% and a PDO of 94-ish (all 11v11).
And those metrics are still pretty much the same today – poor by anyone’s standards.
On the weekend they hosted Bristol City in a crucial match and put in a woeful showing – quite possibly the worst shots (it barely makes it into plural) display I can remember all season.
MK Dons managed just three shots all game, all from outside the box... https://t.co/SiVAEQ4QKm @Squawka pic.twitter.com/91ikTgCxSt— Owain Thomas (@Owain_Thomas) February 21, 2016
... and MK Dons didn't even manage a single shot in the first half. https://t.co/6ToPqX2D1I @Squawka pic.twitter.com/NcsdninjC2— Owain Thomas (@Owain_Thomas) February 21, 2016
This was not a team freezing in a big game – their shot attempts have been pretty awful all season.
MK Dons have taken the fewest shots in total (346, league average of 401), fewest shots inside the 18 yard box (169, league average 223) fourth fewest danger zone shots (70, 87 league average) and more than half (51.16%) of that sparse number have come from outside the penalty area.
In short, this is a problem that has been building all year and became magnified in possibly one of the most important fixtures of the season.
I am very open to hearing why their potent attack from last season has dried up.
Of course some of it will be due to superior opposition, but could that really account for such a remarkable step down?
I hesitate to lay the responsibility all at one player, but was Dele Alli really such a pivotal influence that he could effectively drive an entire team’s offensive production?
Certainly his performances at Tottenham have shown his qualities and he would be a loss to any Championship team.
But instinct suggests there should be more to it than that.
Nicky Maynard was signed in the summer to boost the forward options and in the January transfer window two other ex-Bluebirds strikers (Alex Revell and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas) joined him.
Jake Forster-Caskey also re-joined MK on loan from Brighton this winter, so there should be sufficient experience at the club, but yet the poor attacking performances have continued.
If MK Dons are to survive this season, it is likely this will owe much to the misfortune and ineptitude of those who are relegated, rather than their own success.
Finally, what you've all been waiting for, the sortable data tables, enjoy:
|Position||Team||11v11 Corsi||11v11 Fenwick||11v11 SoT||11v11 Goals Rate||11v11 Sh%||11v11 Sv%||11v11 PDO||Points|