Premier League Clean Sheet Probabilities

What are the real chances of a team scoring zero goals in GW10?

While our ‘goals’ series have been generally well received, one or two readers have suggested that we add a percentage figure to indicate the theoretical chance of a team actually keeping a clean sheet. So, rather than just saying that Arsenal are expected to score 1.2 goals, we can then use this figure to calculate the actual probability that their opponent’s fail to score.

This is done by using the powerful Poisson distribution. Historical records show that Poisson is a very useful yardstick for gauging how many times 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 or more goals are scored based on the average number of goals that have been scored previously. This means that we can use it to predict how many goals we expect to be scored in future matches since we can use the bookmakers lines to determine the expected goals for any given match.

Of course, it does have some limitations – it tends to underestimate the chance of a match finishing 0-0, for instance, for a number of reasons, one of which we saw recently when Liverpool and Manchester United played out a stalemate. On this occasion José Mourinho got what he went for and it was the 5th time that he had secured a goal-less draw in 10 away games against sides categorised as being part of the ‘Big 6’.

However, for helping to calculate the chance of a Fantasy Premier League player securing his clean sheet bonus points it is more than good enough in our opinion.

How to use clean sheet probabilities when selecting goalkeepers and defenders

So, looking ahead to GW10, it’s easy to put teams into brackets with this barometer. Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Huddersfield Town all have a less than 10% chance of keeping a clean sheet. The upside is obviously considerable, if you opt for their defensive options, since you would more than likely be right in the mix for those precious bonus points but the chance of them actually pulling it off is somewhat minimal.

EPL Goals - GW10

On the flip side, it’s easy to see that Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool all have approximately a 50% chance of keeping a clean sheet. While it may be tempting to go for any of their goalkeepers, it’s worth pointing out that they may not be ‘busy’ enough to be in contention for any bonus points.

However, their defenders are likely to appeal much more, especially those who have the potential to deliver ‘attacking’ points.

If you select a goalkeeper or defenders from the other fixtures, you will see that each player has only around a 1 in 3 chance at best of securing that elusive shut-out. You might decide to target players who have home field advantage or look for bargain options from within this group so that more of your budget can be focused on more offensive-minded players.

Segmenting the fixtures like this is a great starting point but having unique line-ups is part of the fun of Fantasy Premier League contests so trust your own gut instincts!