Oxford will be looking to end a run of four league games without a win as they head to Bloomfield Road to face the Seasiders. Karl Robinson’s side sit 21st in the League One table and with expectations in pre-season high, they will be hoping a run comes soon to turn their season around.
Oxford are an interesting one. There is no doubt in my mind that they are in a false league position and we cannot take them lightly. There is a lot of quality in their side and a lack of cutting edge has proved their stumbling block in a frustrating season so far.
How do Oxford play?
They tend to line up in a 4-3-3, with the main elements of their play not really differing from the impressive side that we played at Bloomfield Road last season. They like to operate in the opposition’s half and have an aggression in their press, to ensure they dominate possession where possible. They aim to control the game with width and attempt a large number of crosses in games – this constant supply means that they usually create a lot of opportunities.
What are the stats saying?
The U’s position in the expected goals table has them as the most underperforming side in the division in terms of conversion of their chances created, even more so than MK Dons. They sit above ourselves in terms of xG so it is clear that they are able to create an abundance of chances. Having said that, they have failed to score in half of their league games this season and failed to keep a clean sheet so they simply aren’t converting their chances.
They have also failed to score in seven matches across the whole league season, despite that, they actually have an away xG of 1.66 which is much higher than their overall average. As a whole season average they should have picked up nearly seven points more than they have so far, which means that surely their form will start to improve sooner than later.
With the abundance of chances created it’s clear that Oxford are struggling to find someone to finish them off, or more importantly, share the goals around the team. Matty Taylor is top scorer with five goals, with James Henry coming in with three, yet the next highest scorer is centre half Elliott Moore with two.
Marcus McGuane has been a key provider with four assists from the central midfield area with winger Anthony Forde providing three. So even though they are quite frequent crossers of the ball, the actual assists leading to goals have actually come through the midfield with McGuane.
Last Five league games
As you can see from the stats above (provided by xG_Data) Oxford have outperformed four of their last five opponents in terms of chance creation, yet have come away from the games with six points from a possible fifteen. It is that inability to convert the chances that is scarring their season. They were outclassed by Hull but have matched the likes of Portsmouth – which pays testament to the false league position I mentioned before.
Though, as much as they create lots of chances, they concede a lot as well. They have particularly looked shaky when being counter attacked. Their look to camp in the opposition half and control possession is fruitful in an attacking sense if the cutting edge is there, but it leaves them open to counters. Basically, they are going to play right into our hands just as MK Dons did before them.
Although Oxford look a good level of opposition and a side that have created an abundance of chances throughout the season, we have seen in recent weeks, that we are able to set up defensively to stem even the highest scorers in the league (Pompey and Peterborough) let alone a side that can’t convert their chances.
Pair that with the fact that Oxford look vulnerable when teams break against them, we have it in our arsenal to really punish them on Saturday. It really wouldn’t surprise me to see us score a few goals in this one. If Oxford are able to garner chances and take them, it will make for an interesting affair and at some point, a run of games will come where that happens. I don’t think it’s coming on Saturday though.
Image: Oxford Mail
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