All filler, no killer - what stats tell us about Town's troubles

Paul Cook's Ipswich Town have been struggling recently - and stats show where the issues might lie

Paul Cook's Ipswich Town have been struggling recently - and stats show where the issues might lie - Credit: Archant

Mark Heath takes a look at what statistics tell us about Ipswich Town's recent struggles, and what they suggest could happen against Crewe on Sunday....

All of the ball

If you glanced at the possession and passing stats for the Rotherham game, you'd be scratching your head as to the outcome.

Town enjoyed the lion's share of the ball with 64% possession (67% in the second half), and out-passed the Millers massively - by 521 to 297.

Of those passes, they completed an impressive 76% - much better than the Millers' 60%.

So, how were Town so comprehensively outplayed? Well, as we're often told, possession means nothing if you don't do anything with it....

No final product

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Despite all that ball, Town managed just five shots - only one on target - compared to Rotherham's 11, of which three were on target and two, of course, found the net.

Staggeringly, just one of Town's 22 crosses found its target (a measly 5%), while Rotherham connected on eight of 24, for a much better target rate of 33%.

Rotherham also bettered Town in both interceptions (17 to 11) and clearances (22 to 10), indicating they were far more effective at snuffing out any threat which Town posed.

The Blues also gave away possession more - 180 times, 22 more than their season average - with Bersant Celina leading that unwanted stat with 23.

Continuing the lack of final product theme, just one Town player - Conor Chaplin - was credited with a key pass. In contrast, Rotherham recorded nine, with star man and scorer Shane Ferguson leading that category with three.

The xG graph for Ipswich Town's 2-0 loss to Rotherham United

The xG graph for Ipswich Town's 2-0 loss to Rotherham United - Credit: @xG_Data

Goal drought

Having started the season with a flurry of goals and big wins, Town's fast-flowing scoring river is drying up alarmingly.

They've not scored in four of their last five games and, while they are still League One's leading scorers, stats suggest that won't be the case for much longer.

Town rank all the way down in 20th in League One in terms of shots per game, so they've been massively overperforming in terms of goals scored - their goal conversion rate of 23% is superior to all of the sides in the top six and, for example, league leaders Rotherham's 16% and second-placed Wycombe's 14%.

So they have been clinical thus far- but a glance at expected goals (xG), a measure of how many goals teams should score based on number, quality and location of chances, paints a far more gloomy picture.

Town's xG is 1.12 - a long way below the likes of Rotherham (1.95), Wycombe (1.8) and Oxford (1.66).

Indeed, a look at the xG graph for Tuesday's match (above) shows that Rotherham were more than worth their win - and suggests Town may have had to play three games to score!

There is one bright spot in Town's xG data though - it suggests they're also conceding more goals than they should (xGA of 1.12 to 1.53 avg goals conceded) so hopefully the Blues' defence will get sturdier.

Macauley Bonne's heat map from the 2-0 defeat to Rotherham

Macauley Bonne's heat map from the 2-0 defeat to Rotherham - Credit: SofaScore

All alone

Macauley Bonne has been absolutely brilliant for Ipswich Town this season. But now he's not scoring, Town aren't either - and he's cutting an isolated figure.

A look at Bonne's heatmap from the Rotherham game shows he spent most of his time wide left, toiling some 35-40 yards from goal - working hard as ever, but struggling to make an impact.

He led the Blues with 20 duels - winning ten of them - but had the lowest successful pass percentage of any outfield Town player (14/26, 54%) and touched the ball just 36 times, the lowest of any Ipswich starter.

Contrast that to his heatmap from the 4-1 win at Wycombe earlier this month - where he spent far more time in the box and further forward...

Macauley Bonne's heatmap from the 4-1 win over Wycombe

Macauley Bonne's heatmap from the 4-1 win over Wycombe - Credit: SofaScore

Up next

Despite all of the above, Sunday's clash with rock-bottom Crew Alexandra should - according to the stats - be a straightforward win for Town.

Crewe's xG against is the second-worst in the league at 1.69, and is even worse away from home at 1.85.

They've not won away from home all season, and have a miserly goal conversion rate of just 12%.

They're 23rd in the league in terms of shots per game at just over nine, while giving up an average of 15 attempts on their goal, worst in League One.

Town really need to win this game, and win it convincingly - and the stats suggest they should.

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