Lukasz Fabianski has joined West Ham after being relegated with Swansea City – and he is expected to retain his value as a Fantasy Premier League asset next season.
The Polish goalkeeper has been a renowned producer of saves for several years, making him a good signing for Manuel Pellegrini at the London Stadium.
We’ve had a look at the underlying statistics behind Fabianski’s success in 2017/18, as well as the shortcomings at West Ham, to weigh up whether he should be on our radar for Gameweek 1.
Last season was the latest in a long line of campaigns where Fabianski used his huge save-count and a handful of clean sheets to claw his way up the FPL charts. In the end only David De Gea (172) and Ederson (158) accrued more points than Fabianski. His score of 157 was his best ever recorded in four years at Swansea.
That extended spell was characterised by his ability to stack up large numbers of saves. In fact, in every single campaign in south Wales Fabianski finished in the top three for that statistic:
- 2014/15: 140 (ranked 1st)
- 2015/16: 117 (ranked 2nd)
- 2016/17: 118 (ranked 3rd)
- 2017/18: 142 (ranked 2nd)
Breaking his most recent year down into more detail, Fabianski’s importance to Swansea becomes even more clear. While Jack Butland recorded eight more saves overall at Stoke, the Swans’ shot stopper made more than anyone else when facing shots in the box (93). Furthermore, of the 142 saves made, 30 of those were caught and held. No goalkeeper did so more often than Fabianski.
His save percentage of 72.1 was the fifth best in the division while only David De Gea (+11.70) and Nick Pope (+9.30) boasted better xG Prevented (+4.10). Success in those departments led to him picking up 34 additional points for saves in 2017/18, accounting for 21.65% of his 157 points. 15 more points were picked up from the stopping of three penalties, again more than anyone else.
The importance of saves to Fabianski’s success is best demonstrated by the fact that his clean sheet potential doesn’t always match what is expected of high-performing goalkeepers. The average number of shut-outs recorded by the top-six FPL shot-stoppers in 2017/18 was 12.33 while Fabianski sat below that with nine. Nobody else in the top six registered fewer. However, it was still more than enough to supplement his strength in other areas.
As for bonus points, again Fabianski never dominates but is a solid performer. He was top for Baseline Bonus Points System with a score of 672 (50 more than Butland) this season, and only England internationals Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope made more recoveries (403 and 387) than the former Arsenal man (368). But such numbers didn’t always convert into points proper. Four goalkeepers finished the campaign with more bonus points than Fabianski, his score of 14 good enough only for fifth place.
Obviously the statistics recorded by goalkeepers are influenced by the team they are playing in, and Swansea was the perfect club to get the best out of Fabianski from a Fantasy perspective. In 2017/18 they ranked 19th for shots on target conceded with 190 and were 18th for expected goals conceded too (59), giving him plenty to do. So do West Ham offer the same type of potential for saves and clean sheets?
The short answer to this question is “overwhelmingly yes.” In fact, the underlying statistics of West Ham’s defence could even suggest that Fabianski may prove to be a better Fantasy asset than he was at Swansea next season.
That’s because the Hammers ranked lower than Swansea both for total shots allowed and goals conceded in 2017/18. Only Burnley (570) and Stoke City (579) obliged their opponents more times than West Ham (563), while their shots on target conceded count (187) was similar to Swansea’s 190. Crucially, the London side’s expected goals conceded figure was just 56.10, and yet they were still breached on 68 occasions, just under 12 more times than they should have been. While that could lead to Fabianski keeping clean sheets less often, the data recorded at Swansea last season do suggest he will improve them as a side.
The change of manager at West Ham may, of course, have an impact on how vulnerable they are the back, of course. It remains to be seen whether or not new centre-back Issa Diop will make a difference too. We may find in the early weeks of 2018/19 that the Hammers allow considerably fewer shots on goal than they did previously.
If that’s the case then, of course, Fabianski’s price will play a part in whether or not we should be considering him for our sides. His value in recent years has stemmed from a £4.5m starting price and if he begins the new campaign in the same bracket then he will be more a attractive proposition than if he experiences a hike to £5.0m.