Here's a look at predicting the top six by looking at possession data
Here’s some more Championship content from me and a return to making predictions in the league. As normal, we are using a data source in this article to select the options. The data is essentially making the selections, but we will also be adding in our own opinion and insight as well.
Average possession is the key stat that we are focusing on here. Now the idea for this article comes from looking at possession data from last season. The results are eye opening because the top five possession teams all finished in the top six. Therefore, there is some credibility behind the idea that the best teams with the ball are also the best teams.
So, now we have that out of the way – let’s get stuck into it…
1. Norwich City (57.7% Average Possession)
Norwich City last season were a club that weren’t able to meet the expectations that were set for them. That meant that various changes had to happen including a managerial change, a structure change, and a lot of refreshing of the squad.
Opinions remain divided on what kind of season the Canaries will have and they have certainly got off to a slow start. However, the possession game is one thing that is working for them and shows that they can make the top six by the end of the season.
Those passing stats include having 57.7% of the ball per game as well as having a passing accuracy of 83.8%. The club are also very much a short passing team with an average of 520 short passes per game. These stats are the highest in the league and certainly offer Norwich plenty of encouragement for the rest of the season.
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2. Reading (57.6% Average Possession)
Reading were certainly one of the better teams in the Championship last season. I think their performances in the league were considerably better than what would have been expected ahead of the season.
The Royals ability to attract Jaap Stam to the job proved to be crucial – and the Dutch coach wasn’t just about getting results – but also a matter of playing the game in the right style. Last season the club were one of the leading teams for possession.
It looks likely that it will be a similar story for them this season. So far, they are enjoying an average possession of 57.7% per game as well as a passing accuracy of 81%. Reading aren’t currently in the top six – but they are improving fast. At the present time, they are averaging 433 short passes per game. However, that average is more than likely going to improve as the season progresses.
3. Brentford (56.2% Average Possession)
Brentford are another one of those teams that have made a slow start to the season – and currently find themselves in the relegation zone. However, things will surely improve for the club as the season progresses.
I earlier predicted that the Bees could be one of the surprise packages this season – and I stand behind that prediction. Despite what may look like poor form at the moment, some things that they are doing are certainly positive.
A lot of that involves what they are doing with the ball and 56.2% average possession is certainly impressive stuff. In addition, their passing accuracy is 78.3% and they execute 447 short passes per game. Brentford are also doing well in other areas of their game such as being the leading team for shots per game in the Championship.
4. Nottingham Forest (55.2% Average Possession)
Nottingham Forest had a difficult season last year – and they only just managed to avoid relegation to League One. However, things appear to be different this season as they have made a positive start to the season – and there will be every hope that they can secure a top six place.
Going back to the concept of this article, the possession stats would certainly back that argument up. So far this season, Forest have managed an average possession of 55.2% as well as a passing success rate of 81.2%. In addition, they manage an average of 434 short passes per game – so there is plenty of reason for promise here.
The big question on the club this season is how well they will cope now Britt Assombalonga has Joined Middlesbrough. However, new signings are already starting to make their mark with Barry McKay managing 2.6 key passes per game – and Daryl Murphy being the club’s top scorer with three goals already.
5. QPR (53% Average Possession)
QPR are another one of those teams that were expected to struggle in the Championship this season. However, they have made a good start to the campaign – and will now be confident of securing a top six place. Although the club have one of the biggest squads in the league, they also have one of the lowest average ages.
QPR’s passing stats from this season so far also back up the potential for this club to be in the top six. Those stats include an average possession of 53% per game along with 71.9% passing accuracy. Interestingly though the club are still working on their style and execute just 311 short passes per game.
The club may well have a style that is the perfect blend between short passing and long passing that works for them. It will certainly be interesting to see if they have enough quality in their squad – and the likes of Matt Smith and Luke Freeman appear to be crucial players for them this season.
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6. Bristol City (52.3% Average Possession)
Bristol City had an interesting season last year; it started really well for them – but ended with a survival fight. The good news is that they won that survival test and can now start afresh this season with high hopes of enjoying a successful year.
Lee Johnson is also an interesting case here, most people expected him to lose his job last season when City had a tough time – but the club kept faith with him. There is no doubt that Johnson needs a good start to keep his job intact.
Well, it appears he has got just that and there is some credibility behind the club finishing in the top six. Those all-important passing stats include average possession of 52.3% as well as passing accuracy of 73.3%. Short passes of just 333 per game shows a need for improvement though – but there is still enough evidence here to suggest a top six finish.
This completes the end of the content section for this article as we looked at the Championship top six based on possession. So, if there truly anything in this? Or maybe you think that possession will play little part in deciding the outcome of the Championship this season.
If you enjoy Championship content like this, then keep an eye on my profile page for all of the latest updates. Shortly, I will be bringing more content your way looking at managers, average attendance and the best tacklers.