The English National League is on a break this weekend due to English FA Cup ties so it is a good time to review the race to win the division that offers automatic promotion into the promised land of the English Football League.
Every English National League team has played at least 17 matches so the ladder is starting to take a meaningful shape, as are the various statistical charts. Bookmakers have pegged Grimsby as the English National League title favourite, with SkyBet’s odds of +333 being the best on offer. One thinks that the bookmakers have got it right.
Grimsby is fourth on the English National League ladder with a record of seven wins, nine draws and two losses, five points adrift of Forest Green with Cheltenham and Dover sandwiched between the Mariners and Rovers. No English National League side has lost fewer matches than Grimsby and, having read several reports pertaining to the games that the Mariners lost against Altrincham and Macclesfield, one thinks that they could easily have been unbeaten up to this point. On the balance of play, Grimsby should have drawn at Altrincham and defeated Macclesfield at home.
Punters are drowning in statistics these days thanks to the wonders of the information superhighway. Some statistics are more than trouble than they are worth but there are several statistics that are useful when assessing the strength of a team. Attempts on target for and attempts on target against are two statistics that one thinks are worth investigating now that the English National League season is more than 35 per cent complete. Both statistics read well for Grimsby.
Grimsby has had 97 attempts on target in its 18 English National League matches, which equates to an average of 5.39 per game – only its regional rival, Lincoln, has a better average. But no English National League side has a lower mean for attempts on target conceded than Grimsby’s 2.78, which means that the Mariners have both bases covered.
In summary, Grimsby’s English National League differential for attempts on target stands at +2.61, which is 0.72 higher than the team with the second best number, Wrexham. There is plenty of empirical evidence to support one’s case for using attempts-on-target statistics to categorise sides and that data, along with Grimsby’s raw results, suggest that the Mariners are the English National League team to beat.
Now is the time to jump aboard Grimsby’s English National League bandwagon because its next assignment is a home game versus second-placed Cheltenham, the division’s other side that has experienced defeat only twice. The next round of English National League matches also sees fifth-placed Tranmere host third-placed Dover so, if the result of the two aforementioned big games go a particular, Grimsby may consolidate its position as the team most likely to catch Forest Green. One does not mind opposing Forest Green since it has lost five of its 18 English National League matches, which is more than any of the other sides in the top five. When it comes to betting on teams to win divisions, one should always lean towards sides that are hard to beat.
Grimsby is trading at odds as short as +225 with Bet365 and Bwin to win the English National League. Perhaps those bookmakers have not only viewed the attempts-on-target statistics but also seen Grimsby’s upcoming English National League program. Grimsby is scheduled not to visit another member of the English National League top five until early March when Forest Green are down to host the Mariners.
Grimsby to win National League One
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