After approximately one fifth of the League One campaign, it is the free-scoring Peterborough who’re top of the table, while Portsmouth sit close behind, yet neither Posh nor Pompey are ahead of Barnsley in the outright market.
In fact, only Sunderland, which is questionable, are a shorter price than the Tykes to lift the League One trophy come May, though if Barnsley are currently in 7th position, seven points adrift of the leaders, why are they so strongly fancied in the betting? The underlying numbers can tell us exactly why.
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In a league of their own offensively
In terms of goals scored, Barnsley are not the best team in the division, and even if they’d played the same amount of games – the Tykes have played a game less than 22 of the other 23 teams in League One after their game against Burton last weekend was postponed – they still probably wouldn’t be. Peterborough, Portsmouth and Sunderland have all scored more goals than Daniel Stendel’s men, who’ve netted a more than respectable 15 goals in eight matches.
However, if we assess attacking performance based on other metrics such as expected goals for and shots on target for, Barnsley are easily the best team in the division, despite playing a game less than their chief title rivals. As things stands, the Tykes have amassed 16.9 expected goals for this season, which is 1.1 more than their closest pursuers, while nobody comes close to Barnsley in terms of shots on target accumulated. At present, Barnsley, who’re averaging 7.25 shots on target per game, are the only team in League One to have a total of 50+ shots on target, even though they’ve played one less game than 22 of other 23 teams in the league.
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Giving little away defensively
Just like they’re leading the way going forward, Barnsley are also the pacesetters at the other end of the pitch, as they rank highest based on several defensive metrics.
Stendel’s men have conceded the joint lowest number of goals in League One this season, but in other areas they are out in front alone. No team has conceded less expected goals than Barnsley, who’ve shipped just 7.6 expected goals in eight games. That means that the Tykes are conceding an average of less than 1.0 expected goal per match, which essentially means that they’re consistently allowing their opponents very few high-quality scoring opportunities.
In addition, Barnsley are also League One’s best team in terms of shots conceded and shots on target conceded. If we focus on the latter, the stats really are quite impressive. As things stand, Barnsley have conceded just 18 shots on target, which is just 2.25 per game on average. This means that Stendel’s men really are effective when it comes to preventing their opponents from offering a significant threat.
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