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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Banter » The statistics that show where Wanderers might need to improve in League One

The statistics that show where Wanderers might need to improve in League One

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Wanderers were rightly praised for the quality of their football against Burton Albion on Monday night – but a delve into the attacking stats in League One tell you exactly where Ian Evatt’s exciting team still need to improve.

Whereas a weekend earlier, Bolton’s superior possession did not translate into sustained attacking threat at Cambridge United, the good chances created against the Brewers had everyone scratching their head as to how they gained only a point from the game.

And therein lies the rub. Wanderers have controlled the ball, they have scored nine times in their opening six games but considering the quality of their build-up play they are still not putting enough shots on target, pro rata.

We looked at some of the key stats available and looked at where Evatt might look to fine tune before this weekend’s game at Ipswich Town.


Despite their total dominance of the last two games, Wanderers do not actually top the possession table in League One. According to, that pleasure falls to MK Dons, who with an average of 60.1 per cent from their opening six games, shade Evatt’s side (58.7) and Plymouth Argyle (58.1) into second and third place, respectively.

You can probably expect this trend to continue through the season but it is worth noting that Saturday’s hosts Ipswich have also enjoyed plenty of possession in their five games this season, so the battle for control of the game at Portman Road could be an interesting one.


When it comes to getting shots in on goal, Bolton share top spot with Rotherham United, averaging 14.8 shots per game, or 89 in total.

Ipswich are ninth on the list, averaging 12.2 per game.


Where Wanderers fall down slightly, is in shots on target. On Monday night against Burton, just four of the 20 shots fired in on Ben Garratt were deemed on target. This has dropped the Whites down to the ninth lowest total (3.3 per game, or 20 in total) in League One.

Only Wycombe Wanderers (7.2 per game) have put more shots off target than Bolton (6.3) so far this season.

Bolton (nine) and Ipswich (eight) are among League One’s top scorers. And Ipswich’s games this season have averaged the most goals – 3.6 per game – so we could be in for a treat.


Evatt’s men also lead the way with blocked shots – their average of 5.2 per game putting them well clear of Burton (4.5) and Shrewsbury (4.2).

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The quality of chances that Bolton are creating also see them top the expected goals (xG) table by a fair distance.

According to, Wanderers’ 1.54 xG is ahead of MK Dons (1.44) and Rotherham United (1.35) at this stage and increases to 1.91 at home – which is also the highest in the division. Away from home, Bolton’s total actually drops to 1.18, which is eighth among rival clubs.

Ipswich’s xG is 1.05, placing them 12th in the table. Their xG at home is 1.11, which puts them in exactly the same position.

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Of the highest 20 returns in League One for shots on goal per game, Wanderers have four entrants.

Josh Sheehan and Dapo Afolayan are joint second on the list, averaging 3.2 per game, with Antoni Sarcevic and Eoin Doyle dropping down a little lower on 2.2 per game.

Joe Piggott (2.5 shots per game) is the only Ipswich player who appears in the top 20 in that category.

If you look at players who have featured at least three times in the opening few weeks of the season, just one Bolton player, Dapo Afolayan, averages one or more shot on target per game.

Piggott and Macauley Bonne (both 1.2 per game) feature in League One’s top 20 for Ipswich.

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Meh. You can interpret this in many ways e.g. why do Sheehan and Dapo have more shots than our 9 and 10? Perhaps it's because it's their only option a lot of the time when the box is packed with defenders?
And that's perhaps because our transition to attack is too slow/we are too deliberate in build up/we have no big target man until Baka is back?

There has been some improvement e.g. the possession we had against Burton was much more in their half than across the back which we've seen a lot of up to then - so whilst it's good that we're getting further forward as a team we have yet to crack how to score against a deep block.

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