Jumpers for Goal Posts - A Matt-istician Update


In the back corner of FPL Dugout, with one too many members of staff sent off to Azkaban Prison, the Mathematician finally gets to deputise and write an article. The stats in this article were taken prior to Gameweek 7, but I can hear you cry “What are the stats telling us?”. Music to my ears, and without further ado, let’s start with my first positional analysis.

The Lads between the sticks

The top 5 selected goalkeepers combined percentage selection totals a whopping 74.6% (although the FPL total for all goalies doesn’t quite sum to 100%, not helpful).

This indicates a large percentage of people have chosen between the following 5 shot stoppers: 1. Vorm (19.6%; 5.6m), 2. Jaaskelainen (16.5%; 4.8m), 3. Cech (14.5%; 6.6m), 4. Ruddy (12.7%; 4.5m) and in 5th place Foster (11.5%; 5.2m). This shows that people in general have given up on the top 6 teams goalkeepers (other than Cech). Are there any stats out there that can help us analyse this?

Last season Manchester United had the most clean sheets with a total of 20 which was over 50% of their games. This season with rotations between de Gea and Lindegaard and what seems to be an even more injury (and leaky) prone defence, United have already let in 9 goals this season, this being 27% of their quota from last season’s tally of 33 conceded in total.

Cech and Chelsea find themselves sitting pretty top of the Premier League with only 3 goals conceded, so Cech and Co seem to have their defensive qualities back in order. Last season saw Chelsea finish a surprising 12th for least goals conceded overall, only managing clean sheets in 26.3% of their total league games, shocking considering Chelsea’s defensive mentality throughout the Champions League.

Cech has 4 clean sheets (of the politically correct variety) to his name this season, the most of any keeper, already nearly half of last season’s total of 10. Clearly Di Matteo has been working on their defensive attributes and the below graph shows Cech is in the top 2 keepers for ‘Value for £m-honey$’.

Value vs points graph

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What does this graph show us? I hear you say…. Firstly as titled we are looking at a ‘Value vs. Points’ Graph – we have points on the left hand side and value on the right. All the keepers that have had any playing time are listed across the horizontal axis (ordered by price, value left to right).

The Blue Bar Charts show the keepers price increasing right to left, the Red Line Chart shows the keepers and the points they have collected so far.

Lastly the Green Line is the Line of Best Fit for points. By this we can see that players who are above the Green Line are ‘Value for Money’ (V4M), i.e. Howard, Schwarzer, etc. Players below the line just aren’t V4M, i.e. Reina, Hart, etc. Players close to the line can be seen as par value, i.e. just below the line Guzan (although in general there are more outfield players which are par value).

From this Graph, Jaaskelainen is the major V4M keeper, although West Ham’s next run of games are not overly easy: SOT wig MNC new STK, but as he’s still a cheap option and with a good pairing for rotation, the stats show he has paid dividends so far (presuming most readers subscribe to a goalkeeper rotation policy or theory).

As anyone experienced with looking at stats will know, you have to look at the detail and question what the stats aren’t telling you.

Here the ‘GW7 – GK Trend, Value vs. Points’ Graph doesn’t take into account minutes played, and perhaps there is some underlying information here that can justify the trend and help us identify / confirm other players that are V4M or help identify potential up and coming options.

Minutes vs points graph

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Looking at this second graph ‘Minutes Played vs. Points’, we can clearly see that the goalkeepers who have played the most minutes have in general ended up with the most points and vice versa (Rocket Science – obviously not).

Please note goalies have been listed left to right by number of minutes played, again Cech and Jaaskelainen majorly peak as the best two butterfingers. At the lower end of the scale (right hand side), I find the peaks and troughs most interesting.

Looking at this I would offer two pieces of advice i) avoid the troughs, and ii) there’s room for speculation on the peaks, by this Begovic, Mignolet, Mannone, Davis, Cesar and Szczesny are peaking and indicate they are doing better than their counter-parting troughs – Lindegaard, Guzan, Krul, Green, de Gea, Given, Federici and Gazzaniga. I would avoid these like the plague for now. There are also a host of good middle-ranging keepers like Foster and Al-Hasbi, so there is spectrum on offer to choose from.

Overall who sticks out considering everything?

1. Obviously – Cech and Jaaskelainen, no reiteration needed.
2. Stats indicate the following goalies are over-rated: Hart, Reina, Friedel, etc, both Man United keepers and the host of troughs.
3. Cheap other options – Ruddy / Mignolet (plus due a double gameweek at some point).
4. Matt-istician’s unobvious picks? – Begovic and Cesar.

Late joiner, Soares Julio Cesar is peaking on the minutes chart in a poor form team, and whilst he seems like an expensive ‘no no’, with some easy fixtures round the corner / defensive injury’s due to come back, and Hughes at the helm, the stats indicate Cesar could pick up some points. Next 5 are EVE, ars RDG stk SOT.

With Stoke’s hard start to the season so far, Begovic looks like he could prove to be a true bargain with future easy games. The next two games for Stoke are hard but after that things start to get better. Next 5 are mnu, SND, nor, QPR, whu.

Wrapping up, it would be good to get readers feedback on their current goalkeeper selection policy. Let me know if you have any other mathematical or stat based questions, as it will be good to understand if you guys are grappling with anything out there.