Sunday, July 17, 2011

Looking back in numbers: Defense

After discussing goals earlier, we now turn our attention to the defence and review who kept clean sheets last year and how. More defenders hit triple digits than forwards and their production is often an afterthought as we chase 20 point games from the biggest names. As we approach the new season, here are some somewhat random thoughts to keep in mind as you pick your team.
  • Man City and Chelsea tied for the best defense overall (33 goals) and were both dominant home teams (12 and 11 clean sheet respectively). However, on the road City conceded 1.11 GPG with just 6 clean sheets, making them comparable to the Birmingham defence at home (1.16 GPG with 6 clean sheets). Obviously, if you own Kolo Toure or Ashley Cole you are playing him pretty much every week, but just be careful about buying into total defensive stats and not paying due attention to the home/road splits.
  •  Clean sheets were particularly streaky last season with the longest streak being held to 4 all year (Arsenal GW 21-24). Clean sheet leaders Man City (18) managed three steaks of 3.
  • Despite registering 18 clean sheets, Man City didn't boast a defender who registered more than 12 and only Zabaleta (12) and Lescott (10) even managed to register double figures. This emphasizes the importance of selecting players who are guaranteed to start or else you could find yourself playing Kolarov who was dropped or substituted for 10 of City's clean sheets.
  • If you take the view that good defensive play will eventually lead to clean sheets, Bolton could be in for a clean sheet boost this season. Despite ranking 10th in goals conceded, they ranked just 17th in clean sheet registered.
Goalkeeper Pairs
In what has developed into an annual post, I usually state the virtues of investing in a couple of cheap 'keepers and playing them based on the match-up, rather than opting for one of the premium net minders. The rationale has been well documented but the essential part is that if you opt for someone like Joe Hart or Petr Cech, you will likely play them every week and hence render a player almost worthless.
A post will come on the prospective best pairings for this year will follow soon, but before then, let's look back and see how the numbers played out last year:

Best GK combos
  • Ben Foster and Craig Gordon/Simon Mignolet - 20 clean sheets - 9.0m cost
  • Craig Gordon/Simon Mignolet and Paul Robinson - 19 clean sheets - 9.0m cost
  • Craig Gordon/Simon Mignolet and Wojciech Szczesny/Lukasz Fabianksi - 19 clean sheets - 9.5m cost
  • Joe Hart and replacement level player - 17 clean sheets - 10m cost
  • Ben Foster and Wojciech Szczesny/Lukasz Fabianksi - 16 clean sheets - 9.5m cost
  • Petr Cech and replacement level player - 15 clean sheets - 10.5m cost
  • Craig Gordon/Simon Mignolet and Ali Al-Habsi - 15 clean sheets - 8.5m cost
  • Jose Reina and replacement level player - 14 clean sheets - 10/5m cost
The above clean sheets are based on which of the combo you would play following the rankings published weekly on this site. For the expensive trio or Hart, Cech and Reina I have assumed you would play them every week having made the sizable investment. In reality this may occasionally change (if, say, City played at Old Trafford while your backup entertained Birmingham) but I think the point remains valid.

Last season was complicated a bit more by the multitude of injuries to good budget options but 'keeper is one of the positions that can be fairly easily predicted by keeping abreast of injury news so the only loss here are a couple of transfers.

The dominance of Hart last year at a relatively good price (6m) made the GK-combo closer than it has been in prior years but I remain confident it is still the best way to go.

The new price list will hopefully be released soon, but in the mean time, post your comments/question below or @plfantasy. Anyone interested in the new SimPrem game can reach them @simprem regarding entry to their new awesome game for this season. I will be posting a full preview of the rules and potential strategies shortly.

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