Guest post: Points on the Tyne

Newcastle haven’t been registering on the radars of many FPL managers recently, but Balders has picked up a signal. Here he is to explain the curious case of Robert Elliot and his bonus points:

Back in October, when Tim Krul picked up a long term injury, there was talk of playing an £8.0m uber-cheap goalkeeper rotation of Wayne Hennessey from Crystal Palace and Robert Elliot from Newcastle United. I was not convinced at all of this pairing especially as there were questions over Hennessey’s security of starts and Newcastle looked like a truly awful team having just come off the back of a 6-1 thumping by Manchester City. I gave the rotation the nickname Helliot on Earth.

Since then, Hennessey has seemingly nailed down his spot and, although Newcastle are still awful, Elliot is still raking in the points. Both keepers have notched up 45 points and if they had been rotated picking the best fixture each week they would have picked up 55 points.

That’s enough about Hennessey, who happens to be an uber-cheap keeper in a top half team. Elliot though is doing something remarkable in arguably the worst team in the league – yes even worse than Aston Villa when you look at their underlying shot and shot conversion stats as encapsulated by James Grayson and his Team Rating system.

Out of the current 20 first-choice keepers, Elliot sits sixth for points per game and fourth for total Bonus Points earned despite having played nine fewer games than many keepers. Goalies earning bonus points isn’t that special, but the manner in which Elliot is accumulating them is.

Just before Christmas, in Gameweeks 16 and 17, Elliot picked up a bonus point in each match without keeping a clean sheet, making a penalty save or getting a freak goal or assist. To put this into context, since the beginning of the Bonus Point System (BPS) in the 2013-14 season there have been 1,342 goalkeeper appearances without a clean sheet, penalty save, goal or assist and just three of these appearances have resulted in a bonus point for the goalkeeper. One of these occasions was David Marshall in 2013, who made eight saves for Cardiff in a 1-1 draw vs Newcastle. The other two occasions have been Elliot this season.



For goalkeepers there are three components that contribute to nearly all of their baseline BPS scores: appearance points, saves and ball recoveries. Appearance points are the same for all players who play over 60 minutes so saves and ball recoveries are how goalkeepers can make their BPS scores stand out and Elliot gets both of these in spades. To make a high volume of saves a keeper needs to be in a team which concedes a lot of shots on target, something Newcastle certainly do as shown in the first graph. To get ball recoveries a keeper has to dominate their box by catching crosses and getting out to overhit through balls, something Elliot also does very well and much better than Tim Krul who he replaced in the Newcastle side, as shown in the second graph.

In Gameweek 16 Elliot made seven saves and 11 ball recoveries to reach 23 BPS and in Gameweek 17 he made six saves and 12 ball recoveries to reach 22 BPS. In both of these weeks a performance slightly above his base rates resulted in a bonus point each. In many 1-1 draws or 2-1 wins 22 BPS would not be enough to earn a bonus point but as Newcastle are a uniquely bad team, Elliot has shown this is possible.

When we add in that goalkeepers also earn points for every three saves made, we can see how Rob Elliot is capable of scoring well enough without keeping clean sheets. He may not be the first name on the team sheet when drafting your ideal team, but watch out for Manchester City’s progress in the League Cup. If the Citizens reach the final they and Newcastle will have a blank Gameweek 27 and a double gameweek at some point. With Krul out until the end of the season, Elliot could be the perfect second keeper for those who play somebody like Jack Butland or Petr Cech most weeks.

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26 thoughts on “Guest post: Points on the Tyne

  1. Thanks Balders. Those are some amazing stats you’ve pulled out about bonus points for goalkeeper appearances without a clean sheet, penalty save, goal or assist!

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  2. A-VB says:

    Nice article..

    I considered the Elliot and Hennessey combo in my GW13 wildcard, but ultimately didn’t pick up Elliot mostly due to prejudice if anything at all.

    Anyway, I would certainly pick him up post February if I play my wildcard for the early DGW and if Newcastle doesn’t buy a new GK in the January transfer window.

    But if Newcastle does indeed have a DGW, there is always a risk that Darlow will be given one of those games. But anyway, Elliot is a fantastic choice in general, especially as I mentioned, if Newcastle doesn’t buy a new GK in January.

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  3. I normally like these posts, but here, Balders, you’ve gone too far. 🙂

    In addition to blowing recoveries out of all proportion, Elliot is prone to making errors. Moreover, there is more or less open warfare between two halves of his own defence, which McClaren does not appear to have controlled yet.

    Finally, there is this:

    NEW : ___ *** MUN -207 WHM -127 wat -285 eve -286 WBA -29 che -427 MCI -326 sto -317 BOU -40 lei -358

    So, to conclude, in my opinion, Elliot is a poor pick, and may even cost you 4 points down the line for his transfer out. Sorry. 🙂

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    • Balders says:

      I knew this was coming 😀

      As it stands he’s way down on my clean sheet prejudiced list of goalkeepers I’d play week in week out but I thought the non clean sheet bonus points were such an oddity they’d be fun to write about.

      Can I just say, FFS members area and FPL count recoveries very differently. If you want to see how FPL count recoveries you should check out the recoveries lists in the UFPL transfers section. I know BPS don’t rate recoveries as highly as saves but if a keeper can reach 12 or 15 recoveries in a game in can just be difference between bonus rankings. Also Elliot has only made one error this season so I don’t know what to make of your comment there.

      Just wait til he has a Pantilimon-esque dgw 😉

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      • Ruth_NZ says:

        The DGW potential is a big factor actually. Though it may well be that Everton and Liverpool make the LC final and then the first DGW will consist of 2 teams only and be a bit of a damp squib.

        It’s a reasonable guess that City will overturn a 1 goal deficit at the Etihad however.

        I have to replace Myhill shortly (Hennessey is my other GK). I was actually going to go for Fabianski and do it this week. Now I’ll have to take a look at Elliot. But even if the rotation looks good I don’t know if I’d have the cojones for the Helliot combo.

        Incidentally, Sigurdsson over Alli for me all the way. Diva may have told you. I’ll likely be bringing Sigurdsson in myself this week (unless I can find a route that lets me have Oscar who I marginally prefer).

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          • Ruth_NZ says:

            Marginally but Sigurdsson/Oscar is a very close call in my view. I also like Mata. Alli probably won’t keep the #10 shirt when Dembele is fit and that may be GW21. I don’t think he’s a flash in the pan but I also wouldn’t trust him as my 4th mid yet (and wouldn’t consider him as a bench mid).

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            • You are wrong about Alli. Dembele is a holding midfielder. He played as a holding mid for some time but ass soon as Dembele was introduced into the lin-up , Alli was shifted further up forward and it has been since then that Alli is getting the points. Also , Alli played striker last match but that is unlikely to continue.

              Thanks about your opinion on Oscar. I really want him but I fear its my Chelsea bias that wants him , so good to hear a second opinion! 🙂

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              • Ruth_NZ says:

                I have heard that about Dembele/Alli and I have also heard the opposite. Actually I think Eriksen should be playing #10 but that’s another story.

                Put it this way – Alli is a young player that can play CM, AM or CF. When he plays #10 he negatively impacts Kane. Kane is more important to Spurs than Alli. I’m therefore not sure how secure Alli’s position is long term (position in the team) and I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him rested at some stage, he’s still only 19. He’s a very talented lad as his MK Dons record showed, he was way above that division. But he’s not a basket I am ready to put my eggs in yet.

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                • First of all Poch does not exactly play a 4-2-3-1 . One of the wingers are usually a AM (Eriksen) , so the formation is not symmetrical and is concentrated on one side. S

                  Second , I do not buy into that Alli negatively impacts Kane theory. Rather only that without Dembele , Spurs’ attacks are slower , thus less no. of goals for Spurs as a whole and for Kane as a result.

                  Third , Alli has done enough to justify his place in the XI. AND I would argue that Alli is just as important as Kane because of Poche’s high press which require both Alli and Kane to be active (similar to our Costa and Oscar pressing combo 😉 )

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  4. Balders says:

    Just to keep the records up to date Courtois became keeper #4 to achieve this in gameweek 25 of 2015/16 in a 1-1 draw with Man United where he made six saves and finished on 5 points without a clean sheet.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Balders says:

    Okay gameweek 29 of 2015/16 is a big one for keepers

    Butland: 1-1 draw @ Chelsea, 6 saves, 1 bonus point, 5 points total
    Ospina: 2-2 draw @ Spurs, 9 saves, 2 bonus points, 6 points total

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been following your updates Balders and there’s something going on here. Changes they made to the bonus points system this year seem to be having a mild effect on keepers. It might be worth a little more digging. Thanks for the updates!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Balders says:

        One quick thing I have spotted, three of the 5 keepers to concede and pick up bonuses have all faced your SoT Ticker darlings Tottenham! Elliot in week 16, Fabianski in week 27 and Ospina this week (29) were all playing away at White Hart Lane!

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