As promised, the first End of Season poll is rolled out this afternoon as the Fantasy Football Scout awards get underway. To begin with, we focus on the goalkeepers, where the poll will be available on the middle column of the home page. Bear in mind that the vote is from an overall Fantasy perspective – overall points, price, performances and Fantasy Premier League (FPL) value should all come into consideration here:
Our five options have all merited their place in the list below. The league’s tightest defence, the number one keeper in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) standings, the best value stopper and the two most impressive in terms of points per game are all included. Next term, we’ll be hoping that the likes of Adrian can step up, having replaced Jussi Jaaskelainen as West Ham’s number one midway through the season, whilst Joe Hart and Allan McGregor will be hoping to put the form and fitness issues that have blighted their respective campaigns firmly behind them in 2014/15. For now, though, here’s our main contenders:
The Arsenal stopper sits at the top of the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) keeper rankings as we edge towards the final round of fixtures. Szczesny started the season priced at 5.5 after accumulating 102 points in 2012/13 but has comfortably surpassed that tally already – a current total of 157 points is joint-top with Per Mertesacker in the Gunners’ rearguard and superior to all but Olivier Giroud amongst Arsene Wenger’s charges.
The Pole is also joint-top with Chelsea’s Petr Cech in the race for the Golden Gloves award, with 16 shut-outs apiece and, whilst the latter is a real doubt for the weekend trip to Cardiff, Szczesny – one of only four stoppers to have played every minute of the season so far – could well be set for another shut-out away to Norwich.
Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge has re-established the Chelsea defence as the meanest around. Initially, the Blues struggled to deliver defence returns, though – only four times in the first 16 matches did they manage to register a shut-out, conceding 11 goals in the space of just six fixtures between Gameweeks 10-15.
A change in approach from Gameweek 17 onwards has reaped reward, with Mourinho’s men keeping out their opponents 14 times in the last 22 games. A shoulder injury has deprived Cech of the chance to earn a pair of recent shut-outs against Liverpool and Norwich but, as mentioned above, no other keeper has registered more than his 16 clean sheets – for those looking to double up on the Chelsea backline, he’s been a reliable option week in, week out, with an average of 4.3 ppg only just less than Branislav Ivanovic amongst Jose’s backline regulars.
Sunderland’s summer signing from Arsenal warmed the Black Cats’ bench for the first ten Gameweeks before an injury to Kieran Westwood allowed the Italian to replace the stricken Irishman midway through an early-November trip to Hull.
In his first full start for the Wearsiders, Mannone set the tone for what was to follow by delivering a clean sheet in a 1-0 home win over Man City – his side’s first of the season. With 10 shut-outs to his name, the Italian’s heroics between the posts have been key to Sunderland’s survival – his total of 127 saves is second only to Cardiff’s David Marshall (144), despite failing to feature for the first few months. With six sets of 10+ hauls, 16 bonus points and an average of 4.6 ppg – higher than any regular stopper – Mannone has been an outstanding servant to the Wearsiders and Fantasy managers alike.
Priced at just 4.5 in the FPL, the Southampton stopper arrived quickly onto our radars after conceding a mere three goals in the opening nine league matches. Boruc’s contribution to the Saints has been vital under Mauricio Pochettino – they have managed just one clean sheet in the nine matches he has missed through injury, compared to 14 shut-outs in 28 games with the former Glasgow Celtic stopper between the posts.
Indeed, whilst Boruc’s reduced game time (due to hand and back problems) means Jose Fonte has outscored him amongst the St Mary’s defensive options by 147 points to 122, his average of 4.4 ppg is superior to the centre-back’s 4.2 and is bettered only by Mannone’s 4.6 amongst keepers.
The Argentine sits in fourth spot in the FPL keeper standings, with 144 points picked up thus far – just two less than Chelsea’s Petr Cech. After the first 10 Gameweeks of the season, though, Speroni – and, for that matter, the Palace defence, were far from Fantasy radars after shipping 21 goals in that run, without a single shut-out to his name.
Ian Holloway’s departure and the subsequent installation of Tony Pulis at the Selhurst Park helm was the catalyst for a stunning turnaround in fortunes, though. Speroni has proceeded to deliver 12 clean sheets in his last 27 appearances and, having started the campaign at a price of 4.5, has proven to be the best value keeper in the league, scoring 25 points more than any Palace defender ahead of next week’s trip to relegated Fulham.