It’s only been four weeks since my last article, but in that time we’ve had six game-weeks of Premier League football. During the festive period, we saw managers come and go (does it make any difference?), pundits moan about a lack of winter-break (the only thing stopping England winning the World Cup, clearly), and Arsenal crash out of the one meaningful trophy that they could win (but perhaps it will help their league form…or not). One thing that has continued unabated is Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City team, which at this point, looks on course to eclipse both the Arsenal Invincibles and the Man United treble winners as the greatest English team of the Premier League era.
Anyway, on to Togga. Sometimes people dismiss the value of a goalkeeper; but goalkeepers win you games. I forgot to take Simon Mignolet out of my team in week 19 (I was in Australia so the time-difference threw me…plus, who schedules just one game for the Friday night when every other match is on the Saturday!?). The mistake cost me. The Liverpool man scored -3.75. I lost by 2.75. All of which (hopefully) justifies the return of this article: Who’s in goal for weeks 23 and 24?

Last Time Out

Before showing you the data, I’ll quickly recap on the predictions from last time out (for the whole of the Christmas period; i.e. game weeks 17-22):

3 to Target:

  • Jack Butland – With a PPM of 6.7 over the festive period, Butland was the definition of average. Losses to Burnley and West Ham (in which he scored 0 and 2.25) cost him, though he did perform best in the matchup against Huddersfield (as predicted!). Prediction Verdict: 5/10.
  • The West Ham Goalkeeper – Picking up Adrian was a very good bit of advice (he averaged 8.25 over 5 games), but it would have been even better had it not been for the surprise home defeat to Newcastle in week 19. Prediction Verdict: 7/10.
  • Huerelho Gomes – The Watford keeper ending up being the one I got wrong. Gomes completely bucked the trend of the data by performing poorly against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Huddersfield, before making his highest scores against Leicester and Manchester City. A 6-week PPM of 2.6 is well below par. Prediction Verdict: 2/10.

3 to Avoid:

  • Jonas Lossl – As predicted, Lossl struggled against Chelsea (-1.75), Watford (2), and Leicester (0.75). Not predicted, however, was the top, top performances against Southampton and Burnley. The double-figures he accrued in these matches gave him a 6-week PPM of 6.75 – perfectly average for a goalkeeper. Prediction Verdict: 4/10.
  • Asmir Begovic – To quote my own article last time out: “Begovic will be hard pushed to clear 6 points in any matchup. His PPM of 7.03 is almost certain to be much lower this time next month.” Well, Begovic’s PPM is now 4.84. The Bournemouth man was always going to struggle with matchups against Liverpool and both Manchester Clubs, but an average PPM over this period of -1 is below even what I expected. Prediction Verdict: 10/10.
  • Lukasz Fabianski – The Swansea goalkeeper has proven a popular pick in fantasy football this season, but Christmas was a tough time. Aside from the 10.25 outing against Everton in week 18, his remaining scores were all below par. An average PPM of 4.5 during this time isn’t good enough to justify his status as 8th most owned goalkeeper. Prediction Verdict: 7/10.

Considering I was predicting 6 weeks in advance (and therefore with the data not being updated on a match-by-match basis), I don’t think I did too badly with the predictions. The advice to target Gomes was the only true bust, but this was saved with the Begovic recommendation which was spot on. Now on to weeks 23 and 24…

Opponents

Match Scenarios

I stopped including the above graph in the past few articles because the story wasn’t really changing much, however I thought I would re-introduce it this week just to point out a couple of things. First; the result matters. This may seem obvious, but the key here is that the difference between a goalkeeper that wins and a goalkeeper that draws isn’t very much (less than 2 points). Yet the difference between a goalkeeper that draws and a goalkeeper that loses is massive (over 5 points). Lesson: don’t pick goalkeepers who are big underdogs. The second point is that there is literally no difference between a goalkeeper who is playing at home and a goalkeeper who is playing away (well, actually, there is a difference; it’s 0.03). This is in contrast to other positions, particularly attacking ones, where it is beneficial to waiver in a player if they have a favourable home matchup. The same strategy doesn’t apply to goalkeepers.

Three to Target

  • Adrian; West Ham United (owned by 26%) – Adrian should continue his good points scoring with matches against Huddersfield and Bournemouth coming up. Neither team is prolific in front of goal, so expect at least one clean sheet. What’s more, whoscored.com have Adrian as the second highest performing goalkeeper in the Premier League this season.
  • Lukasz Fabianski (owned by 79%) – I’ve just said not to pick up underdogs, and now I’m saying target the goalkeeper of the team 20th in the league. But matches against Newcastle and Liverpool could be favourable for Fabianski. The keeper scored 12.25 last time he played the Magpies, whilst he’ll certainly be forced into make plenty of saves against an attacking Liverpool side.
  • Wayne Hennessey; Crystal Palace (owned by 12%) – Cech and Ederson should score higher, but it’s all but impossible to pick up these two. So perhaps look to Crystal Palace’s Hennessey. Matches against Burnley and Arsenal tend to bring above-average points for goalkeepers.

Three to Avoid

  • Fraser Forster; Southampton (owned by 54%) – Southampton are on a horrendous run of form, having not won in 9 league games. Matches away at Watford and home to Tottenham won’t make things easier, especially for Forster. Tottenham have scored the 4th most goals this season, whilst Watford have the 5th best shot conversion rate in the league.
  • Kasper Schmeichel; Leicester City (owned by 75%) – goalkeepers facing Chelsea away from home score an average of 8.77 points compared to 3.36 when facing Chelsea at home…nevertheless, it would take a brave person to back Schmeichel to come good when Leicester go to the Bridge in week 23. Watford in week 24 is no easier from a Togga perspective either.
  • Huerelho Gomes; Watford (owned by 25%) – The merry-go round is complete with the inclusion of Watford’s Gomes. Facing Southampton and Leicester in week’s 23 and 24 are not conducive to high points scoring. Gomes’ form hasn’t been great either; aside from a very good performance against Leicester on Boxing Day, the goalkeeper has had Whoscored ratings of 6.08, 5.95, 5.5, 6.49, and 6.15 in his last 6 games.

 

If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy the book “The Inner Geek of Football” available from Amazon.co.uk for £3.99 (or Amazon.com for $5.24). All of Luke’s Togga articles can also be found here.

Follow Luke Wilkins on Twitter using @the_innergeek