Fantasy Premier League

Why Gvardiol can be top-scoring defender in 2024/25 Fantasy

By The Scout 11 Jun 2024
Gvardiol, Man City

The Scout says Man City star can build on 2023/24 late-season form and get more goals this campaign

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The Scout is identifying players who could improve on last season's displays and have an even bigger impact when 2024/25 Fantasy Premier League begins.

Josko Gvardiol (Man City)

The Manchester City star’s late-season transformation in 2023/24 Fantasy suggests he will be among the very best picks in defence this campaign.  

Gvardiol endured a disappointing start to his debut campaign, with no goals, no assists and just four clean sheets in the first 29 Gameweeks.

From Gameweek 30 onwards, however, his impact at both ends of the pitch made him a must-have for managers in Fantasy. 

Gvardiol was the only player to start all of the champions’ final 10 matches. He delivered all his attacking returns for the season – four goals and two assists – in that stretch, in addition to five clean sheets.

The Croat totalled 79 points over those encounters, with his previous average of 2.4 points per match (ppm) jumping to 7.9ppm. 

Gvardiol was not only the top-scoring defender in Fantasy in that period, but his tally was also more than any Man City team-mate. 

Gvardiol's debut season assessed
Statistic GW1-29 GW30-38
Points 44 79
Points per match 2.4 7.9
Goals 0 4
Assists 0 2
Clean sheets 4 5
Bonus points 1 11

After the defender scored in back-to-back matches against Real Madrid and Luton Town in April, Pep Guardiola explained how he produced that improved output in front of goal.

“He receives [the ball] in central positions when the wingers come with two or three players to make two against one, three against one, against [Jeremy] Doku or Jack [Grealish], he’s free and close to the goal. 

“He has an incredible talent and I encourage him to do it again and again and again.”

Gvardiol clearly took heed of his manager's words and went on to highlight his growing influence on Man City’s attack by scoring three goals in their subsequent four league matches. 

What do the underlying statistics tell us?

When assessing Gvardiol’s goal threat over both periods, it’s clear to see that he has boasted far greater potential inside the opposition penalty area in the latter stages of the season.

He seemed to have reined in his previous tendency for long-range efforts, with only 50 per cent – or nine of 18 – of his shots coming inside the box in the early stages of the campaign.

But this rise in close-range threat climbed to 79 per cent in his final 10 outings, with just three of his 14 shots coming from outside the box. 

Crucially, Gvardiol’s frequency of shots in the box also improved by some margin - indeed, his 77.7 minutes per shot in the box was more than twice as quick as his previous average of 163.6 minutes.

The numbers also highlight that there has been no real upturn when it comes to creativity. Although both his assists in 2023/24 arrived in the final 10 matches, Gvardiol’s minutes per key pass only marginally improved by just over 10 minutes, up from 134 to 122.

Gvardiol's attacking threat compared
Statistic GW1-29 GW30-38
Shots 18 14
Shots in box 9 11
% shots in box/shots 50% 79%
Mins/shot in box 163.6 77.7
Key passes 11 7
Mins/key pass 134 122
How does he compare with other defenders?

When assessed against other defenders, Gvardiol’s goal threat in those final nine Gameweeks offers more encouragement.

His six shots on target were joint-top with Tottenham Hotspur full-back Pedro Porro. 

Gvardiol’s four big chances placed second to the five of Spurs’ Cristian Romero, while he also took runners-up spot for shots in the box, with his 11 surpassed only by the 14 of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

Top defenders for goal threat, GW30-38
Player Shots Shots in box Big chances Shots on target
Van Dijk 16 14 0 4
Gvardiol 14 11 4 6
Bogle 13 11 2 5
Romero 11 10 5 4
Porro 16 10 0 6

Ultimately, managers in Fantasy will always be at the mercy of Guardiola’s tactics and it cannot be taken for granted that the Spaniard will keep his late-season approach by the time 2024/25 gets underway.

Nonetheless, the success of Gvardiol’s change of role, combined with his manager’s comments, do look positive for the defender’s attacking prospects in Fantasy. 

Combine that with the potential for clean sheets and there is every chance that Gvardiol will be the main threat to Arsenal’s dominance in defence in 2023/24 after their league-high 18 shutouts enabled Ben White, William Saliba and Gabriel to occupy the top three places last time around.

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