Getting clean sheets in FPL can seem like random luck but the following data, graphs, and article was written to give you a big boost on what defenders to put into your FPL side. The following data reviews the EPL results of the first 10 game weeks for the last 5 seasons. If your wondering why it is only the first 10 game weeks or only the last 5 seasons, well, it’s because I have a real job that actually pays me money so I can’t be doing FPL 24/7… unfortunately.

I’ve heard some people say that this is the year of the defender, which if you didn’t listen to the Art of the Dive recent podcast, you need to immediately. When listening you will hear my rant on how that comment is shit. Thinking back on it, I probably should have clarified in the pod what I meant exactly so read on if you actually want to be successful in FPL. If not well that’s your choice.

The first table looks at number of clean sheets per week. As you can see, the total clean sheets per year in the first 10 game weeks is very similar with both the 2013-14 and 2017-18 being tied for the highest a piece at 68. The 2016-17 season was the lowest at 52 and a mean of 60.2 or basically 6 clean sheets per week in EPL.

Now here’s the important part. In tables 1 & 2 as well as the chart, this data compares the total clean sheets in games involving promoted sides (Table 1 and the Chart) versus the regular or not newly promoted EPL teams (Table 2 and the Chart) for the past 5 years. As you can clearly in the chart, the games involving promoted sides roughly involve half of the clean sheets. Look at last week, both Cardiff and Fulham got cleaned. Also, if you’re thinking the majority of these cleans are the rest of the EPL kicking the crap out of the newly promoted sides then you’re mostly correct. Although, the promoted sides did manage 36 out of the 98 cleans or roughly 37% which is not an insignificant number.

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How does this help you and me? Well take a look at Manchester City’s schedule. They play the 3 promoted sides and last year’s 3 promoted sides in their next 6 game weeks. That is absurdly easy schedule that should produce lots of cleans. If possible maybe consider going two Man City defense. Even if Sergio Aguero gets a goal he only gets 6 points. Defenders on Man City roughly cost half that much.

On the other hand, Liverpool don’t play any newly promoted sides and only one recently promoted team, Brighton. This to me gives more evidence that Andrew Robertson is a good choice to start because cleans may be more at a minimum but not goals for Liverpool’s potent attack. Of their defenders Robertson has the most attacking return potential as evidenced in game week 1. And lastly, a cheeky pick after this week may be an Arsenal defender. After game week 2 versus Chelsea, they play 2 newly promoted sides and one recently promoted side in their next 6 game weeks. Hector Bellerin may be one to keep an eye on due to his potential for attacking returns and easier fixtures.

So, let’s not call it so much the Year of the Defender because the amount of clean sheet points is likely going to be static compared to the last 5 years in EPL. However, I do agree that with more wing backs attacking returns for defenders may be occurring at a higher rate but currently do not have data to back this hypothesis. So maybe let us say it is the Year of the Wing Back.


  1. Great article! Was really looking forward to it since I heard about it in your pod. I’ve been doing FPL for a few years but really started to take it seriously this year. Loving your content! Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Rohan. We’re really enjoying the community this year. Feel free to write in any questions using the contact section on the website. Good luck this year.

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