I’ve seen a few comments this week from people pointing out that Crystal Palace have not conceded many on the road this season and therefore it might be best not to captain Romelu Lukaku against them. I decided to dig into this a little further by looking at their defensive stats to check whether this was a fluke or a sign of consistent defensive resolve.
I’m sorry this chart is a bit busy, but there is a fair amount of information I want to look at. The chart shows away matches with grey bars and clean sheets secured by the Eagles as gold bars. To give an idea of the strength of the opponents faced, shooting averages are shown in shades blue for home or away games (depending on the opposition’s fixture with Palace). The shooting metrics are: opposition average shots (OpAvSh), opposition average shots in box (OpAvSiB), opposition average shots on target (OpAvSoT) and opposition average goals scored (OpAvGS). The south London club’s defensive resolve is shown by the shades of red – shots conceded (ShC), shots in box conceded (SiBC), shots on target conceded (SoTC) and goals conceded (GC).
Several points stand out to me from the chart. Two of Palace’s three clean sheets have been recorded exactly when we might expect them – against poor attacking sides (West Bromwich Albion in Gameweek 8 and Manchester United in Gameweek 11). They are the third worst in the league for conceding shots and fair particularly badly against stronger sides, but in the last eight weeks they haven’t given up many of the more dangerous shots on target.
The Eagles don’t concede many goals each match and have averaged just one goal against per game this season, which is the joint fourth best goals against record in the league. The difference isn’t great between home and away games though – at Selhurst Park they have conceded a mid-table nine goals in eight games (one goal above one goal per game) and on the road they have conceded five in six games (one goal below one goal per game).
Palace don’t land many clean sheets (though the best chances for doing so seem somewhat predictable), but they don’t conceded many goals either. FPL managers might not want to play an Eagles defender against anyone but the weakest attacking opposition. However, they may also want think carefully before captaining a player against them.