We are now entering the business end of the season and with many FPL managers currently building their wildcard squads the decisions being made could have a significant impact on final ranks. There will be plenty of talk of more goals, fewer clean sheets, teams being on the beach and Kane loving the run in so I’ve had a look at some stats behind these theories.
There are plenty of end of season games that stick in the memory as having produced some unlikely scorelines, the 5-4 between Spurs and Leicester last year and a 5-5 between United and West Brom a few seasons back instantly spring to mind. However in 17/18 goals actually dropped slightly in April and May with 2.54 goals per game in that period compared to 2.71 goals per game throughout the rest of the season. The same was true in 16/17 with 2.68 goals per game in April and May compared to 2.84 for the rest of the season. The final day has provided 30+ goals in each of the last 3 seasons so the period between the start of April and the penultimate game has in recent years been a low scoring portion of the season. Last season the top 6 teams contributed 46% of the goals scored between August and March and that remained the same for the goals scored in April and May. The bottom 6 teams had 19% of pre April goals and 18% of those scored from April onwards whilst the percentages for the flip flop donning middle 8 were 35% pre April and 36% after.
So does that mean an increase in clean sheets?
There were 186 Premier League clean sheets pre April last season in 312 matches at an average of 0.6 per game. Post April this remained similar with 40 clean sheets in 68 matches at an average of 0.59 clean sheets per game. The sides that finished in the top 6 recorded 44% of the pre April clean sheets and 43% of the post April ones while bottom 6 teams had 23% of pre April clean sheets and 25% of those post April. The middle 8 teams, those most likely to be classified as “on the beach” towards the end of the season, recorded 33% of clean sheets both pre and post April.
Kane features heavily in the wildcard drafts appearing on Twitter in the past few days and has attracted enough non wildcard transfers too for a price rise this week. He has a reputation for finishing the season strong and this is backed up by the stats. In the previous 3 seasons Kane has scored an impressive 20 goals from 23 appearances in April and May and with favourable fixtures and 4 home games still to play he will surely prove a popular pick. He will be desperate to open his account at the new stadium although only 7 of those April/May goals have come in home fixtures so for FPL potential it may have been better if he had more away games in the run in. After hobbling off in their Champions League first leg against Man City all of this may be academic with a serious looking ankle injury possibly bringing his season to a premature end.
Based on last season’s data we may expect to see a drop in goals over the next few gameweeks before a last day of the season bonanza, especially given that one of the most explosive late season players, Harry Kane, could be literally rather than figuratively on the beach for the rest of the season. The term on the beach will be bandied around a lot over the coming weeks but last year’s figures for the middle 8 teams tend to suggest their output in terms of goals and clean sheets wasn’t particularly hindered by thoughts of sun, sea and sand. Line ups for teams with nothing to play for can be more unpredictable but discounting players from these teams completely would seem unwise.