Are you still trying to figure out which budget defenders to pick for your FPL GW1 team for the 2023/24 season? Are you asking a question, which non-top-six teams are likely to get the highest number of clean sheets?
Using statistics, we examined the number of clean sheets of all teams from the last five seasons in order to find the best and most stable Premier League defensive teams.
The Best Premier League defenses
Over the last 5 seasons, these Premier League teams have had the highest number of clean sheets per season:
- 18.0 – Manchester City
- 16.6 – Liverpool
- 13.8 – Chelsea
- 11.8 – Tottenham Hotspur
- 11.6 – Manchester Utd
- 11.4 – Arsenal
Most Stable Premier League defenses
In the table below, there is the list of teams sorted by the lowest value of the Coefficient of Variation of clean sheets. The coefficient of Variation is calculated from the number of clean sheets from the last five Premier League seasons. The lower the coefficient, the lower the dispersion of clean sheets around the Expected Value (mean).
Based on this, we may assume that in the following season teams with a low Coefficient of Variation will more likely achieve the number of clean sheets close to their Expected Value.
For example, Wolves have the Coefficient of Variation of 0.13. We may assume that in the next season, the number of Wolves’ clean sheets will be very likely close to the Expected Value (mean) of their clean sheets from the last five seasons: 10.8.
Manchester United has the Coefficient of Variation of 0.32. Based on this, the number of Manchester United clean sheets in the next season will be less likely close to the Expected Value (mean) of their clean sheets from the last five seasons: 11.6. It may vary in both directions: it may be much higher than the Expected Value but also much lower.
Most stable defenses
It is no surprise to see Manchester City among the top defensive teams in our table. They performed very well defensively in the last five seasons, although they kept “only” 13 clean sheets in the 2022/23 season.
However, their defenders are among the best defenders to own in Fantasy Premier League. In the 2023/24 season, they are likely to register the number of clean sheets that would be very close to their expected value – 18.
For comparison, Liverpool’s clean sheets number fluctuated more around its expected value during the last five seasons. Measured by standard deviation and coefficient of variation, their clean sheet count was less stable than Manchester City’s. So their defenders do not offer as much safety (in terms of clean sheets) as those from Manchester City.
From non-top-six teams, the most stable teams in the last four seasons were Wolves, Palace and West Ham. In the next season, they will likely get numbers of clean sheets close to the Expected Values. For Wolves, it is 10.8 CS, for Crystal Palace 10.2 and for West Ham 8.4.
These three non-top-six teams had really low volatility of clean sheets in the last five seasons. On the other hand, it doesn’t say much about the defensive qualities of these teams. Based on this, we can expect that West Ham will probably achieve 8 clean sheets in the 2023/24 season. Is it enough to include Hammers defenders in our plans?
On the contrary. Despite the low value of the Coefficient of Variation, the Expected Value is very low. We have to look in the table for the combination of a low Coefficient of Variation and a high Expected Value.
From non-top-six teams, the Wolves look the best defensively based on this statistic, because the Expected Value of their clean sheets from the last five seasons is high and the Coefficient of Variation is very low.
So if buy Wolves defenders for your team, you can expect they will get you approximately 11 clean sheets during the whole season.
Pick defenders from those teams
So, to sum things up, if you want to pick reliable defenders for your fantasy team, with a “predictable” amount of clean sheets, focus on these teams:
- Manchester City (although in the last five seasons, their clean sheets count fluctuate around its high expected value – 18, you still can expect 15 – 21 clean sheets from them in the 2023/24 season – calculated as an interval between expected value (average) – standard deviation; expected value (average) + standard deviation: 18 – 3 ; 18 + 3 = 15 ; 21)
- Wolves (in the last five seasons, their clean sheets count fluctuate very little around its expected value – 10.8, so you can expect 10 to 12 clean sheets from them in the 2023/24 season)
- Crystal Palace (in the last five seasons, their clean sheets count fluctuate very little around its expected value – 10.2, so you can expect 9-12 clean sheets from them in the 2023/24 season)
- Arsenal (in the last five seasons, their clean sheets count fluctuate very little around its expected value – 11.4, so you can expect 9-13 clean sheets from them in the 2023/24 season)
FPL defenders from those teams are especially good options, if you are looking for set-and-forget defenders that you will have in your fantasy team for a long period of time.
This does not mean that you should avoid Liverpool or Manchester United defenders. Their clean sheets numbers are just more volatile, so it is not going to be a surprise if those teams will keep much less or much more clean sheets in the 2023/24 season as their expected value. Because of the high Standard deviation and coefficient of variation, the number of clean sheets is very unpredictable.
Based on clean sheet data from the last five seasons of Premier League football, we can conclude that there are teams that are regularly keeping almost the same amount of clean sheets every season. Those are stable defensive teams that we should pay attention to when selecting players for our FPL teams, because (to some degree) we can predict that they will keep the same amount of clean sheets again in the 2023/24 season again.