In the 22-season history of Fantasy Premier League (FPL), there have never been so few clean sheets after four Gameweeks than in this current campaign.
The graphic below details the shut-out count after Gameweek 4 over the last 10 years but it’s a record that stands over the whole two decades of FPL.
|Season||Clean sheet count after Gameweek 4|
*one fewer match played
**two fewer matches played
While we will explore the underlying data behind these figures in another article, we here take a look at the FPL defenders who can compensate for the shortage of clean sheets with attacking returns.
Above: Defenders sorted by goal attempts in 2023/24
Matty Cash (£4.7m) is top of the pile when it comes to goal attempts but it should be noted that six of his nine efforts came in the Gameweek 3 win over Burnley.
In that match, the Poland international was deployed as a right-winger and scored a brace in a 3-1 win over the Clarets.
“Because Matty Cash has played before as a winger. He has played sometimes in a back four which is lower but we used him in the pre-season playing higher as a winger and as a full-back.
“He helped us a lot today defensively and then offensively he used his moment to remember the moment when he used to play as a winger for Nottingham Forest.
“His two goals were a good example for us but we know he can play there and in other positions like at the end when he played at left-back when Lucas Digne came off.” – Unai Emery on why he started Matty Cash in midfield in Gameweek 3
He then started in the same position against Liverpool last weekend but an early injury to Diego Carlos (£4.5m) forced a defensive reshuffle and saw Cash revert to his usual right-back role. Unsurprisingly, with less attacking freedom, Cash’s only penalty box touch and effort of the game at Anfield came from a corner.
Above: Matty Cash’s underlying attacking numbers by Gameweek
Cash will still get shooting chances even as a full-back due to the nature of Unai Emery’s set-up but we really want to see him as a winger for those explosive numbers posted in Gameweek 3. With Carlos possibly sidelined and the attack-minded left-back Alex Moreno (£5.0m) soon to return from injury, it remains to be seen how Cash’s goalscoring potential is affected. Hopefully, by the time of the fixture swing in Gameweek 8, we’ll have an answer.