Gathering stats for the SPFL Championship for the first time this year has been very interesting. Sometimes the stats do not make sense, sometimes it is a hassle to make sure the data is correct, and sometimes the data is not even there. Yet, it has been interesting following the league, especially since some Scottish media outlets have reduced the coverage of the league.
Seeing as I compared the conversion rates for the Premiership in Scotland, I thought it would be interesting as well to compare them for the Championship as well. Here we can see some teams who has seemed to make lady luck angry, while others seem to be reaping the benefits of an extended visit from the finishing fairy.
As a reminder, Mark from Every Team Needs a Ron says when discussing conversion rates, “As a rough guide, anything within +4% to -4% conversion difference seems like noise that is hard to discern meaning from.” We see first place Hibernian right below that +4% conversion rate difference. With a positive expected goal difference and a relatively sustainable conversion rate difference, Hibs can be expected to continue to compete for the title.
In recent weeks, Dundee United has emerged in the table as Hibs main competitor for the top spot in the Championship. However, looking at both their conversion rate and expected goal differential, we see them with numbers that might not be able to sustain their undefeated form in the last five matches. United have a negative expected goal differential and a very unsustainable +9% difference in conversion rate.
In those last five matches, the Tangerines have had a lower xG than their opponent in 3 of those matches. Their overall conversion rate is at 20%, a number they usually would not be able to continue. We would expect Dundee United to regress throughout the season, but they certainly could be in line for a promotion play-off spot.
Now to the other end of the table. Things are looking hopeless for St. Mirren right now. The Scottish League Cup winners of 2013 seem destined for relegation to League 1. The Buddies have an xG difference of over -5 and a conversion rate difference of over -10%! Wow! St. Mirren can expect that to improve a bit, but dreadful xG for and against numbers means you shouldn’t expect much of a change of fortune for the team from Paisley.
Above St. Mirren in the table is Dunfermline. Ayr, Dumbarton, and Dunfermline were most’s picks for relegation from the Championship this year and those 3 clubs are definitely in danger of that. However, the Pars are the only one with the distinction of having a positive expected goals difference and a negative conversion rate difference. Dunfermline has been able to create some chances, as they have the 3rd highest xG total in the Championship and have scored 15, the same as Queen of the South.
However, they have also conceded the 4th highest xG against total and the 2nd most goals in the league. The finishing for the Pars hasn’t been relegation level, but the defense and goalkeeping certainly has.
If Hibs can continue these numbers going forward, they should win the league comfortably. However, from the promotion playoff spots to relegation seem to be up for grabs for numerous teams. If the first three months of the season are any indication, it should be a wild ride.