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The Year of the PK

The EPL is on pace for a record breaking number of penalties being given and scored this season.

Referee Mike Dean points to the penalty spot - Premier League
The Referees and VAR are having a major impact on the season and the number of goals being scored.
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

There have been a lot of penalties given this year — a lot. Currently that number is 41 with 34 of those being converted. Through eight weeks, that’s an average of about five penalties given per match week. To get a full grasp of how many this is, let’s check the history books.

Since the start of the Premier League in 1992, the league averages a little over 77 penalties per season. Since the 2006-2007 season, no season has had less than 80, and five seasons reached over 100 with two seasons as high as 106.

If we stay at the current pace of penalties given, the league could see 190 penalties. 190! Even if that pace slows slightly, we are talking about a record breaking season of PKs. It is possible that the league approaches record territory by mid-season.

Let’s add some more context. Last year, Manchester United was awarded 14 penalties (you did have Bruno Fernandes on your team, right?!) which was the highest any single team has been awarded in a season. With eight games played, there are seven teams currently on pace to match or exceed that number.

Leicester leads the season with eight penalties awarded, which already puts them one ahead of their whole season total from a year ago. It seems pretty clear that VAR and the new new handball rule are having an effect here. That could be another whole article sometime.

Belgian defender Dennis Praet’s handball leads to a VAR penalty decision - Leicester City - Premier League
VAR + ball-to-hand = penalty |
Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images


Fantasy Implications

How does this affect how you are picking your team week in and week out? Get penalty takers on your team; it’s that simple. If PKs are being given at this rate, own the guys who are going to capitalize on them. Five of the top eleven outfield players in Fantrax, and eight of the top 13 in FPL are primary PKs takers for their teams.

For me, PK takers are also the tie breaker when I’m looking at players. If it’s Son or Kane, I’m going Kane. Mane or Salah? I’m going Salah. It’s an added opportunity for big points.

In a week of double games or just because I need to free up money elsewhere, I may look at a Mark Noble or an Ollie Watkins on the cheap over other players because they might have a chance at PK.

To help here is a full list of PK takers by team and their chances and goals:

PK table

Team Main PK taker(s) this year. Number of Pks Given Number of PKs Scored
Team Main PK taker(s) this year. Number of Pks Given Number of PKs Scored
Arsenal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 1 1
Aston Villa Ollie Watkins 1 1
Brighton Neal Maupay 2 2
Burnley (Last year duty was shared by Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes, and Jay Rodiguez) 0 0
Chelsea Jorginho 4 3
Crystal Palace Wilfried Zaha 2 2
Everton Richarlison 1 1
Fulham Aleksandar Mitrovic 1/2, Ademola Lookman - 0/1 3 1
Leeds Mateusz Klich 1 1
Leicester Jamie Vardy - 6/7, Youri Tielemans - 2/2 8 7
Liverpool Mohamed Salah 4 4
Manchester City Kevin De Bruyne 2 1
Manchester United Bruno Fernandes 3 2
Newcastle Callum Wilson 3 3
Sheffield United Billy Sharp - 1/1, Sander Berge - 1/1, John Lundstram - 0/1 3 2
Southampton Danny Ings 1 1
Tottenham Harry Kane 2 2
West Brom (Pk takers from last year are not playing often. So this is a little unclear.) 0 0
West Ham (Last year Mark Noble was 3 for 3 from the spot, with Michel Antonio converting his only chance.) 0 0
Wolves (Last year Raul Jimenz was 4 for 4 from the spot.) 0 0
41 34


A few other notes:

Jorginho has missed a few for Chelsea, and his days as PK taker could be over. Timo Werner converted two mid-week in Champions League play, even though Jorginho was on the field. This could be a reason to get Timo back into your squad.

Fulham have now missed 2 of 3, so this is up in the air. Also, both misses were huge.

There were misses this weekend from Jamie Vardy and Kevin De Bruyne, but I’m not sure that affects their status as primary takers. In previous seasons, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero have the responsibility fo Manchester City, so I worry more about KDB than Vardy.

Injuries to players like Callum Wilson and Danny Ings means the door is open to other players. Does James Ward-Prowse step up? If so, his values rises even higher. Does it fall to Che Adams? Where would this leave Newcastle?


What are your thoughts on the number of penalties this year? How has is affected how you choose your squad? What other stats are you looking into? Please share in the comments!