ANALYSE THIS: A Clean Sheet vs 1 Goal

FOOTBALL – Former Scottish football player Paul Dalglish made a statement on twitter claiming a clean sheet earns more points than a single goal. Based on this tweet, our colleague at Infostrada Sports, Murray Innes, has written an article on the importance of a clean sheet in the English top flight.

In the tweet below, Paul Dalglish asserts that a clean sheet earns more points than 1 goal in a debate on Twitter. At first, I thought this would be an interesting problem to tackle, but after a few moments it’s pretty straight-forward. A clean sheet is worth at least as many points as scoring exactly 1 goal because the only condition under which you can earn three points with 1 goal is by also earning a clean sheet. Earning 3 points with exactly 1 goal is a subset of earning three points with a clean sheet. So if a clean sheet is definitely worth more than 1 goal, just what exactly is it worth?


In over 24,000 matches of English top flight football, keeping a clean sheet has earned, on average, 2.46 points per game (PPG); scoring exactly 1 goal, as in the argument above, has earned 1.05 PPG. A clean sheet is definitely worth far more than exactly 1 goal in top flight football. So, what exactly is it worth?  The graph below shows the PPG values earned when a team has scored 1, 2, 3, or 4 goals in a top flight match; the dashed line is the PPG earned when keeping a clean sheet.

Figure 1: Points per game scoring 1, 2, 3, or 4 goals.

Figure 1: Points per game scoring 1, 2, 3, or 4 goals

Click here to read the full article on this topic.

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