A Spot of Bother
Why you should be taking note of some astonishing English Premier League penalty statistics
Fantasy football managers will often stack their line-ups with penalty takers, in a bid to pick up some ‘soft’ fantasy points and it is a tactic that can pay-off. In the last 3 full Premier League seasons an average of 86.7 penalties were awarded, which equates to 1 for every 4.37 games played.
However, that is nothing compared to what we are witnessing this season. With just one game remaining from the Gameweek 8 fixtures, we have already seen another 6 penalties awarded, taking the seasonal tally up to 31, an astonishing 1 every 2.55 games, a quite incredible statistic. So, why is this happening?
New refereeing directives
Prior to the start of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign, referees were given some new guidelines and it now seems pretty obvious that these are having a significant impact on the number of spot-kicks awarded.
The ‘triple-punishment‘ no longer applies, meaning that players will not be penalised for professional fouls in the penalty area, as harshly as they were before, while referees have also been encouraged to clamp down on shirt-pulling, holding and blocking at set-pieces.
If this trend continues the value of selecting penalty takers cannot be over-stated, especially in game formats where captains can pick up double or triple points.
Get up to speed with the designated penalty takers
Rival fantasy football managers are likely to spot this trend sooner rather than later, so it’s imperative that you factor it into your thinking as early as possible.
Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City’s highest rated player on WhoScored and the early front-runner for the Player of the Year award, must have delighted all of the fantasy managers that ‘owned’ him when he stepped up to take a spot-kick for the Citizens against Everton, with first choice taker Sergio Agüero consigned to the bench. However, the Belgian play-maker, who had successfully converted two for his nation but had never taken one in domestic football previously, failed his audition, while Agüero also saw his kicked saved by Maarten Stekelenburg later in the game, after coming on as a second half substitute.
Christian Benteke missed the opportunity to salvage a point for Crystal Palace against West Ham, when his effort was easily saved – by a spectator in Row Z, while Southampton’s Charlie Austin justified his inclusion on a number of fantasy team sheets, by making no mistake from the spot, as the Saints ran out easy winners against Burnley.
Don’t forget the goalkeepers
With so many penalties being awarded, it makes sense to take penalty-saving records into account as well. Liverpool’s Loris Karius has some impressive figures, having saved 8 of the 23 career penalties he has faced. Spot-kick saves can really boost your fantasy scores, so it might be worth spending a bit more of the available budget on a competent goalkeeper!
Liverpool’s makeshift left-back James Milner leads the English Premier League penalty statistics in 2016/17, having converted 4 from 4.
Will there be a penalty awarded when Liverpool take on Manchester United ? The bookies are offering what looks like terrific value with odds of 11/4 available for the referee to give one at Anfield!