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Sunderland v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship

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Talking Tactics: Why the data shows that Sunderland shouldn’t panic about the QPR result

We all know how the result went on Saturday, but what does the data tell us about Sunderland’s performance against QPR? Brandon Feeley dives deep to find out...

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pre Match Line Ups

Sunderland reverted to the same starting XI that defeated Bristol City a week ago.

QPR made three changes to the team which beat Middlesbrough 3-2, with Hämäläinen, Adomah and Shodipo coming in for the R’s.


Versatility is Essential

Within the first ten minutes, Dan Ballard went off with a serious injury and Luke O’Nien was subbed on at right centre back over Bailey Wright and Aji Alese - and he did well, with O’Nien recording the most pass attempts for Sunderland (58), with an accuracy rate of 84%.

Luke O’Nien v QPR

xG and Shots

Sunderland gave a statistically impressive performance against QPR.

Against Coventry and Bristol City, the xG suggests Sunderland were clinical, and slightly overperformed. Saturday’s match was a better representation of our xG, with QPR trailing across both halves according to FotMob’s data.

xGOT definition via The Analyst “Expected goals on target (or xGOT) measures the likelihood of an on-target shot resulting in a goal, based on the combination of the underlying chance quality (xG) and the end location of the shot within the goalmouth.

It gives more credit to shots that end up in the corners than shots that go straight down the middle of the goal”.

What is encouraging is we recorded eight shots on target, which accumulates an excellent number for xGOT (expected goals on target). This is a stat we never had public viewing of in League One, but one bonus of moving up a division is that we have access to more data.

It’s a good measurement of how well the opposition keeper played, as it reflects the keeper's saves.

The chances right at the end of the match boosted the xGOT for Sunderland, with Dieng saving QPR in the 94th minute by stopping Ross Stewart and then Elliot Embleton. This accumulated at 0.30 xG and 0.31 xGOT.


What changed the match in QPR’s favour?

Sunderland dominated the first half, and the numbers back it up.

The second half saw a revival in the fortunes for QPR, with better stats recorded across the board. The introduction of Tyler Roberts at half time definitely helped QPR, but I feel like when you are 2-0 up, the team naturally wants to sit back and protect more - which allows the opposition more possession.

Before Chair scored the free kick, QPR had created exactly 1 xG all match, so they created enough when 2-0 down to warrant at least a goal. However, they had only created 0.28 xG from half time until the Chair free kick, which is a low amount. They saw more of the ball but never created anything clear cut.


Why the Championship is brutal

I’m not one to place the blame entirely on a player, but Gooch giving away the free kick which Chair then scored from was naive. In League One, you could get away with such an error. But in the Championship, you find more technically gifted players and fouling players on the edge of the box can be a recipe for disaster.

The equaliser is even more frustrating for Alex Neil to watch back - the lack of organisation and awareness cost us massively. Patterson makes the decision to punch it clear, but most of the players who were back stood around the six yard box.

Chair crossing the ball for the QPR equaliser

This allowed the QPR players space, and typically it was Seny Dieng - their goalkeeper - who rose unchallenged to score a looping header.

We played really well until the last few minutes, where we gifted them a foothold in the game. This team is young and lacking Championship experience, so we must be patient and allow them to learn from their mistakes.

What is encouraging is jist how many players have stepped up into the Championship and look competitive. Sheffield United will be a test for the lads on Wednesday, as they were a playoff calibre team last season.

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