Inspired by the stats of the brilliant Experimental 3-6-1, I decided to use his approach to see how Forest (and other clubs in the league) were faring this season, by taking a look at how effective they were on both sides of the ball. By assessing how many goals they are scoring and conceding — and how many shots they are allowing — we can establish whether teams have a clinical attack (not creating many chances but putting the ones away they get) or whether they have to create a ton of chances before they can score.
I also wanted to have a look at the disciplinary stats. Concerningly, we have one of the worst disciplinary records in the league, but whenever I watch a game it often seems like we get the rough end of the stick from the referee; though it must be said that our players have also done silly things to get themselves in trouble too. So I wanted to see how we were being treated compared to the rest of the league. All three graphs take into account the first 15 league games of the season, but not cup games.
Now, one of the few downsides to the season so far has been our disciplinary record. To put it simply, it’s horrible; it’s the worst in the Championship and the fourth worst in the entire Football League (and the three teams above us in that unwanted ranking all have less red cards). However, whenever I watch a game of ours, it always seems like we rarely get a break with the referee. My mind instantly goes to the Derby game, with Dexter Blackstock getting sent off for an elbow with Jake Buxton having gotten away with having repeatedly fouling him time after time in the first-half with little punishment. So I decided to take a look not only how many cards each team gets, but how many fouls they commit. Here is a graph showing that and, as you can see, Forest are getting pretty harsh treatment – they currently get one card every 4.2 fouls. Compare this to Derby – they get a card every 13.2 fouls – and the league, as a whole, gets a card every 6.9 fouls.
Now obviously some of this could be down to bad luck and some silly fouls the players commit, but you would expect this to even out over a period of time and is definitely something that the management team needs to be aware of so that they can look at what is happening on the pitch.
The second graph is for attacking affectiveness. Here the graph shows how many shots each team takes per game on one axis and, on the other axis, how many shots it takes per goal scored by that team. I have also included the average of the entire league (represented by two solid black lines). This neatly separates the teams into four distinct groups. As you can see, Forest are in the best area of the graph (just!) — creating a lot of chances on goal and we are effective at converting them. This is encouraging, we aren’t the best at scoring goals but compared to the league, as a whole, we are pretty good.
Finally, we can take a look at how effective we are defensively. A lot of people have commented that we seem fragile defensively but, judging by the amount of goals we have conceded, we would seem to have the third best defence in the league; though I readily admit plenty of the goals we have conceded have been avoidable. For this graph you can see the amount of shots each team has faced over the last 15 games on one axis and how many shots it takes for each team to concede on the other axis. Again, Forest are in the optimal area of the chart to be, whereby we don’t allow a lot of shots on our goal and it takes a lot of shots for us to concede. I think the most encouraging thing about these two graphs, is that we are the only team to be in the optimal area of both graphs.
Now, this doesn’t mean we are going up, or that we will beat anyone we play, but it does mean that we are doing things right on the field — creating lots of chances and being solid in defence — coupled with the fact that the football we are playing is easy on the eye. With the talent we have at our disposal, not only in the first XI but on the bench, I think that Forest fans have a lot of reasons to be encouraged about this season and what it may contain.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Cms186