After an off-season period of two months, the EFL Championship makes a return, as the 2022-23 season is about to commence this weekend. The only game on Sunday, the 31st of July, sees Sunderland take on Coventry City at the Stadium of Light. While the visitors finished 12th on the points table last season, the hosts won promotion from League One via the promotion playoffs. The Black Cats will be looking to avoid the drop zone at the first time of asking, while the Sky Blues will be hoping to put up a better challenge to reach playoffs.
Sunderland ended their four-year-long wait to return to the EFL Championship last season after winning promotion from League One playoffs, defeating Wycombe Wanderers in the final. They scored the most goals of any team last season (83), though it must be said that they played three additional games due to reaching the playoff final. Still, the Black Cats overperformed on their xG of 75 goals.
This overachievement in front of the goal by Sunderland is displayed in the above shot map. While they have rarely missed chances from inside the opposition’s six-yard box, at least 10 goals from outside the box were scored by the Black Cats men and shots from outside the penalty area usually have a low xG. The Scotsman, Ross Stewart, finished the season with 26 goals. He wasn’t just his team’s top goal-scorer, but he was also the League One’s joint goal-scorer along with Wigan’s Will Keane.
Coventry City ended the 2021-22 EFL Championship campaign in 12th position on the points table. They were not consistent enough to mount a challenge for a spot in the promotion playoffs as they had a record of 17 wins, 13 draws and 16 losses and accumulated 64 points. Their goal difference was +1, and it was only that positive goal difference which kept them in the top half of the table, barely ahead of Preston North End. Last season, the Sky Blues had the most counterattacks (158) of any team in the league – 3.15 per game.
Coventry City’s most successful threat creator last season was midfielder Gustavo Hamer. In fact, he created more than 1.5 times the threat generated by the next best Coventry player. He produced the most threat from set-pieces as well as from open play. Thus, it was no surprise to see the Dutchman top the assist chart from the Sky Blues squad.
Both Sunderland and Coventry City will be looking to get off to a good start this season in the EFL Championship. The hosts have been favoured by many bookies to finish the highest among the three promoted teams this season, the other two being Wigan and Rotherham.