With the Winter Wildcards in play, or at least pending for us all, we’re going to look at each position in turn, assessing the likely targets that warrant attention in our squad shake-ups. We start in goal, a traditionally troublesome position, dominated in the main by budget or mid-price keepers, with rotation between the chosen pairing a key factor.
The confirmation of two double Gameweeks in the same window as the Wildcard has, to some extent, changed the landscape. While both Wojciech Szczesny and Jussi Jaaskelainen appeal with their two fixtures in Gameweek 23, the presence of Ross Turnbull as a short-term 4.3 option for Chelsea’s pair of Gameweek 22 matches is a new variable to be considered.
For the purpose of this article, we’ve dismissed the idea that Turnbull can be regarded even as a mid-term prospect: Petr Cech’s groin injury will likely keep him out of Chelsea’s two forthcoming fixtures but will surely return shortly after, to oust Turnbull to the bench.
In contrast, both Szczesny and Jaaskelainen enjoy strong fixtures to follow their double Gameweek exploits and are well placed as Wildcard considerations, along with Stoke’s Asmir Begovic – undoubtedly the key target in this position this season with nine clean sheets to his name. With Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet also facing a favourable run of fixtures in the mid-price, these four names provide the starting point as we look at a series of rotation pairings to be considered as part of the Wildcard clear-out.
Asmir Begovic & Wojciech Szczesny: Current Cost 11.1
Next Ten Gameweeks: MCI (che WHM) WIG STO RDG AVL WHM EVE WBA RDG AVL
Undoubtedly reserved for those looking to spend big in this area, this partnership will set you back no less than 11.1 in the FPL right now, but will offer a rotation that presents a favourable fixture in almost every Gameweek right to the end of the season. In a nutshell, barring in injury, you won’t need to address your goalkeepers again. A full run of home matches right up until Gameweek 34 can be achieved and, even when these two go off kilter as a pairing, an obliging fixture can always be found. Gameweek 29 looks to be the only real sticking point on the horizon, with Arsenal facing Everton at the Emirates and Stoke visiting Newcastle.
The one major caveat of course is that, if you’re spending over 5.0 on a player, you don’t want them to be alternating off your bench. A Stoke defender can also be purchased far cheaper than Begovic, with Marc Wilson thought to be back in the frame within two-to-three weeks – a 4.0 price tag looks somewhat irresistible, should that prove to be the case.
Asmir Begovic & Jussi Jaaskelainen – Current Cost 11.1
Next Ten Gameweeks: Sun (QPR ars) WIG SWA RDG TOT WHM new WBA WBA AVL
A Begovic partnership with West Ham’s Jaaskelainen looks another route that will earn you the double fixture in Gameweek 23, whilst getting strong coverage from that point on. The rotation works perfectly all the way to the end of the season in terms of home and away fixtures, giving you a home goalkeeper right through to Gameweek 38. There are a few bumps along the way, notably Gameweek 29 once again with Stoke at St James’ Park and West Ham entertaining United. Gameweek 37, with Stoke at home to Spurs and the Hammers at Everton, is also a tough penultimate week to navigate.
Given that this pairing will also cost you 11.1 and with the likes of Guy Demel and Joey O‘Brien available as cheap options in the West Ham defence, this again has obvious drawbacks unless you were hell-bent on heavy investment in goal. You should consider that Demel and Wilson could possibly hand you coverage of these defences for just 8.0 – with attacking potential, albeit a minor one, thrown in.
Asmir Begovic & Ali Al-Habsi – Current Cost 10.8
Next Ten Gameweeks: CHE SUN WIG SOT RDG ful WHM new WBA NOR AVL
Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi is another potential bedfellow for the Stoke stopper who, while failing to offer perfect rotation, does provide good cover for three of Begovic’s weakest Gameweeks – namely GW23 (swa vs SUN), GW25 (ars vs SOT) and GW31 (eve vs NOR). This will get you three home matches to cover three tough away trips for Begovic but it’s questionable whether shelling out 5.0 on the Wigan stopper can be warranted given that you’ll only likely to call on him on these three occasions.
Asmir Begovic & Adam Federici – Current Cost 10.1
Next Ten Gameweeks: WBA swa WIG SUN RDG WIG WHM AVL WBA eve AVL
Pairing Begovic with a cut-price stopper will surely be the preferred strategy. Reading’s Adam Federici is the only current keeper in the budget bracket who looks to be assured of starts until the end of the season, with Mark Bunn’s tenancy in the Norwich goal set to come to an end upon John Ruddy’s recovery. Fortunately, Federici works well in tandem with Begovic, allowing for home and away rotation up until Gameweek 30 and providing good cover for several of Begovic’s toughest encounters – namely this forthcoming Gameweek when Reading face West Brom at home and in Gameweek 25 when Federici will be at home to Sunderland, while Begovic travels to the Emirates. At 10.1, then, this solution looks a strong fit for those who are loathe to do without the Stoke keeper in their squad.
Wojciech Szczesny & Simon Mignolet – Current Cost 10.5
Next Ten Gameweeks: WHM (che WHM) SWA STO sun AVL FUL qpr NOR RDG wba
We’ve already looked at the Arsenal stopper working in a pairing with Begovic but, with Wilson’s return from injury on the horizon, it’s worth looking at the Arsenal keeper in isolation as an alternative to Begovic as a number one option. While there are defenders in the Gunners defence that tempt investment, Szczesny is available for 5.3 in the FPL, exactly half way between the value of Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs, who stand out as their defensive acquisitions but do carry a threat, albeit minor, of rotation. The Pole’s fixtures are strong, without being bombproof: Gameweeks 28-30 (tot EVE swa) is the trouble spot but one which Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet appears to cover better than any other keeper option on offer (FUL qpr NOR). With the Sunderland stopper a preferred option for this weekend’s fixtures (MCI vs WHM), he provides back-up to Szczesny for four, maybe five of the Gameweeks that remain. An effective option, but perhaps expensive at 10.5.
Wojciech Szczesny & Julio Cesar – Current Cost 10.2
Next Ten Gameweeks: TOT (che WHM) LIV STO sun AVL sot SUN avl RDG WIG
QPR’s Brazilian stopper also works well with Szczesny over the troublesome Gameweek 28-30 spell and is available for 0.3 less than Mignolet. He offers an alternative home fixture for this weekend when QPR face Spurs, while also provides a trip to Reading in Gameweek 35 for those who look to rotate Szczesny out for Arsenal’s trip to Old Trafford. For 10.2, then, this pairing seems to have potential, although some will baulk at the fact that Cesar, at 4.9, is called upon for just a handful of Gameweeks.
Sadly, while there are cheaper options available – notably Federici at Reading, he fails to offer effective coverage for Szczesny’s tough three Gameweek spell, while Bunn will likely be ousted by Ruddy by this point in the season. Brad Guzan is another route worth examining, here. He offers home and away rotation with Szczesny up until Gameweek 32 but his fixtures over Gameweeks 28-30 aren’t perhaps strong enough to provide suitable cover for the Gunners keeper (MCI rdg QPR).
Simon Mignolet & Ali Al-Habsi – Current Cost 10.2
Next Ten Gameweeks: WHM SUN SWA SOT ARS rdg FUL qpr NOR NOR qpr
Simon Mignolet & Jussi Jaaskelainen – Current Cost 10.5
Next Ten Gameweeks: WHM (QPR ars) SWA rdg avl TOT FUL qpr NOR WBA
The Sunderland keeper is a third, principal option for the number one spot in our squads, with incredibly strong fixtures in defensive terms right up until Gameweek 31. Arguably, you can use the Belgian as a first choice up to this point, bringing in a new keeper at Gameweek 31 when the Black Cats face United, followed by trips to Chelsea and Newcastle. You could also set your partnership up now to deal with this spell. Both Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi and West Ham’s Jaaskelainen look good options: they seem cover Mignolet’s tough spell of fixtures more than adequately. Al-Habsi is perhaps the stronger option, providing home and away rotation with the Black Cats’ stopper from Gameweek 33 onwards with a 0.3 saved. Obviously you’d be relying on Wigan to once again rally late in the season in order to earn clean sheets but that has been a pattern in previous campaigns.
Brad Guzan & Adam Federici – Current Cost 9.0
Next Ten Gameweeks: SOT wba NEW SUN WHM WIG MCI AVL QPR LIV SOT
If you’re looking to avoid spending between the sticks then this partnership is, arguably, the most efficient on offer. We look to be guaranteed starts and, from Gameweek 25 onwards, you get home and away rotation through until Gameweek 33. Even at that point, there appears to be a favourable fixture on offer from one of the pair, aside from Gameweek 37 when Villa host Chelsea and Reading face City at the Madejski. For just 10.0, however, it’s a pairing that, barring injury, ensures that you’ll always have a first choice keeper at your disposal and, with both defences enjoying spells of clean sheets this season, you may not necessarily have to rely on save points for rewards – particularly if both react to an end of season relegation battle by tightening at the back.
The Southampton keeper can possibly provide an even cheaper variable here, although currently it’s unclear just who holds the number one jersey at St Mary’s. A Saints stopper would work well with Guzan and, although home and away rotation is patchy, the fixtures pair up nicely and it’s an option that could be available for just 8.7 if Paulo Gazzaniga can earn back the starting role.
The options presented here are just a snapshot of the many configurations available. Notably they ignore the prospects of backing a one-stop heavy hitter option – namely Joe Hart – simply due to the cost considerations. Hart, partnered with Adam Federici for 11.3 would appear to be the strongest partnership on offer in terms of value and rotation, if you were keen on exploring that route. United’s David De Gea, despite seemingly cementing the number one spot at Old Trafford, remains a gamble that most are more than happy to avoid.