Goalkeeper focus: Why the smart money is on Vicente Guaita for the run-in

If it’s a goalkeeping bargain you’re looking for to finish strongly in the Fantasy Premier League, Vicente Guaita could be your man.

Wayne Hennessey started the season as Crystal Palace’s first choice, but Guaita appears to have usurped him in the pecking order – since stepping in for the 1-0 victory over Leicester, the Spaniard has played in 17 of the Eagles’ last 19 matches.

And while Guaita costs a mere £4.2m, his ownership of 1.8% shows he is well and truly flying under the radar.

So why else should you throw your hard-earned FPL currency at him?

He stands a good chance of keeping clean sheets

A graphic showing the expected goals faced per match for Premier League teams in the 2018/19 season

Clean sheets provide the best opportunity for goalkeepers to score points. They might get five points for sporadic penalty saves and six points for exceedingly rare goals, but the four points for a clean sheet is the GK’s bread and butter.

Expected goals (xG) can illustrate the quality of chances each team has been facing, and therefore, how much threat there has been to each keeper’s goal.

An xG model assigns a value to every shot based on how often similar shots have been converted in the past, taking into account factors such as the location the shot was taken from and the kind of pass that led to the shot.

Crystal Palace’s average of 1.2 xG faced per match means that their opponents this season have been allowed just over a goal’s worth of chances per match. This is better than either Manchester United or Arsenal, and means that it wouldn’t often require a miracle for Guaita to keep a clean sheet.

He makes an impressive number of saves

A graphic showing the spread of Fantasy Premier League points earned from saves by goalkeepers in matches this season

Goalkeepers pick up a point for every three saves they make. It is quite rare for them to pick up more than two points from saves in a match, and there have only been nine occasions this season where anybody has picked up three.

There are three keepers who pick up points for the number of saves they make more often than Guaita, but all three of those keepers have conceded more goals as well.

Guaita provides a good balance – you want the points you collect from saves to be the cherry on top of a clean sheet, rather than the consolation for not getting one.

He has no tricky fixtures left

A graphic showing the projected Fantasy Premier League points for goalkeepers in the remaining Premier League fixtures

They say there is no such thing as an easy game in the Premier League, but with Arsenal out of the way, Crystal Palace finish the season with three games rated in the easiest band of the official site’s Fixture Difficulty Rating (FDR) system.

And while Guaita averages exactly two points per game against the big teams, he has an average of 5.6 points against teams with a level two FDR.

With three level two games left then, he is projected to accrue a grand total of 16.8 points from now until the end of the season, seeing him top of the projected points table for goalkeepers from gameweek 36 onwards.