My  “how’s it going?” piece went up on Friday, as per usual over the last few international breaks, and elicited few responses, as per usual over the last few seasons. I had expected one or  two Coventry ninjas (there can’t be many more than two) to pick up the series and comment but it appears to be beyond them.

Not that it matters. One appreciative reader, Edward, made a comment  and that got me thinking, so I did a bit of fiddling with the spreadsheet and here we are.

In some ways this post is similar to Friday’s. However, there is not only an update there’s also a change of emphasis. Sunderland, of course, are the main focus but, for the first time this season, Walsall and Doncaster come into the discussion, which is something they’ve merited for a while, and I’ve also included Accrington, new entrants to the play-off spots

One of the points I made graphically was that while the League table has had us in 3rd place for a while Barnsley have actually been doing better than us on a game by game basis. This was made abundantly clear around 2.45 on Saturday afternoon. Barnsley v Luton had finished and the other games were yet to kick off, which meant the top 7 clubs had all played 12 games.  Here’s how they stood:

EFL League 1 2018-19, after 12 games

Club W D L F A GD Pts
1 Portsmouth 8 3 1 21 10 11 27
2 Barnsley 7 4 1 26 9 17 25
3 Peterborough 7 3 2 28 19 9 24
4 Sunderland 6 5 1 24 13 11 23
5 Walsall 6 4 2 15 12 3 22
6 Doncaster 6 3 3 18 14 4 21
7 Accrington 5 5 2 14 12 2 20

(I stopped at 7 because the 8th club were Luton and, having played Barnsley, they were on 13 games). 

Two hours later it was all change again.

By 4.45 all of the games involving the top clubs had finished, and they had all gone to form; positions had changed once more, as you can see from the table to the right

Yet the situation isn’t any clearer. Barnsley  temporarily unravelled their game in hand and moved into second but found they’d dropped to third  by the end of the day.

Walsall, who’ve been 5th for a good while, and Sunderland, who had started the day 3rd, both found themselves gaining a game but also moving downwards. We would rather have the points and I’m sure Saddlers would concur. After all, even managing a draw in what will be a tough game against Luton next week might not be enough to lift them above Accrington.

played points GD
Portsmouth 13 30 12
Peterborough 13 27 11
Barnsley 12 25 17
Doncaster 13 24 5
Sunderland 12 23 11
Accrington 13 23 4
Walsall 12 22 3

Comparing the two tables shows how incredibly tight it is at the top of League One, and how much a failure to gain points matters.

average points per game

              average points per game

To that extent, Edward’s comment about draws has some substance. If we had hung on against Peterborough we’d have been level on points with Barnsley and ahead of Posh at the 12-game stage.  As it is, our points per game ratio has fallen and is now some way below our rivals, which is why they are some way above us in the league.

And there’s one thing we must do to raise it. Have a look at the following rankings:

Best clubs by:

Most wins Clean sheets Scoring in games Fewest losses
Portsmouth Barnsley Sunderland Portsmouth
Barnsley Portsmouth Peterborough Barnsley
Peterborough Walsall Barnsley Sunderland
Sunderland Doncaster Portsmouth Peterborough
Walsall Accrington Accrington Walsall
Doncaster Peterborough Walsall Accrington
Accrington Sunderland Doncaster Doncaster

We’re not the best when it comes to winning. OK, perhaps, but nothing more. Not in the Portsmouth class.

That’s because we can’t keep a clean sheet. Barnsley have held out in almost half of their games. We’ve done it once in twelve games.

Yet we have always scored. Always. Every game. No other club has done that. And not only do we have the League’s top scorer in Maja, we have eight others who have scored. 

So we don’t lose many games. It’s small numbers so far, so perhaps not that reliable a stat, but we’re as good as anyone in the League and better than most when it comes to getting at least a point. 

It’s obvious, isn’t it. So obvious that everyone knows it without my charts and tables.

Don’t worry about our attack, Jack. Just sort out our defence. Make Edward, myself and 30,000 others happy. Keep some clean sheets and our forwards will convert those draws into wins.

I think Jack’s up to that task. I suspect Pete Sixsmith will be thinking much the same. He should be here tomorrow or Tuesday with his own take on the first quarter of the season, and while my stats might point to some areas his analysis will shine a torch on them. It’ll be an excellent read and we hope you’ll visit us to enjoy it.

 

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

One Response to “Barnsley and Doncaster (and Accrington?) push Sunderland down and Walsall out.” Subscribe

  1. Edward October 14, 2018 at 10:08 pm #

    Thanks for that info, there’s a lot to be gleaned from it. 50% win record quite good. 8.3% loss record excellent. 41.7% draw record slightly concerning and 0% clean sheets disturbing.
    After the last few seasons, should we complaining/moaning/concerned about our performance? If we want to get out of this league, then yes, we need to be looking at areas where we can improve. Keeping some clean sheets could help. Are we conceding goals because we’re attacking and therefore leaving gaps at the back, or are we conceding goals because there’s something not quite right at the back? I think that the GK is excellent, so I’d be looking at the defence/midfield. Would I rather we kept clean sheets at the expense of banging in goals? Not if goals scored is greater than goals conceded, but a string of clean sheets would help the back lines and work against the teams we’re playing.
    Again, thanks for the gen. 🙂

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