Selecting a budget goalkeeper for Fantasy Premier League in 2019/20 could prove a difficult challenge.
Cheap reliable shot-stoppers were hard to come by in 2018/19 and a number of price hikes to that category this time around have made finding one even harder now.
Previous members of the £4.5m club such as Lukasz Fabianski, Ben Foster, Vicente Guaita and Rui Patrício have all risen to £5.0m, leaving the pool at the lower end of the scale quite short of options.
The problem is further shown when we consider the defensive rotation pairings we picked out upon fixture release (when no prices were available to us). Only two of them are comprised exclusively of two £4.5m goalkeepers.
|Team 1||Team 2|
|Crystal Palace||Norwich City|
|Leicester City||Brighton and Hove Albion|
|Manchester United||Manchester City|
|Newcastle United||Sheffield United|
|West Ham United||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
As you can see, only the Bournemouth/Southampton and Burnley/Aston Villa can be undertaken using a pair of £4.5m goalkeepers in 2019/20.
Newcastle/Sheffield United has been ruled out by Martin Dubravka staying at £5.0m, while West Ham/Wolves can no longer be covered by goalkeepers as both Fabianski and Patrício were pulled out of the £4.5m category.
Crystal Palace/Norwich could still happen if Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m) reclaims his place at Selhurst Park but it does seem, at least for now, that Guaita is the main man there.
Furthermore, at this current point in time, the goalkeeper situations at Aston Villa, Burnley, Bournemouth, Southampton and Sheffield United are all far from clear.
Meanwhile, the following £4.5m options are all firm second-choice at their respective clubs:
- Danny Ward (Leicester)
- Eldin Jakupovic (Leicester)
- Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
- Karl Darlow (Newcastle)
- Paulo Gazzaniga (Spurs)
- Pontus Dahlberg (Watford)
- John Ruddy (Wolves)
By our calculations, that makes
Brighton’s shot-stopper might not actually be a bad choice to start the new campaign.
The Seagulls rank third for defence on the Season Tickerover the first six Gameweeks, which feature favourable home matches against West Ham, Southampton and Burnley.
Their away trips during this period take Brighton to Watford, Manchester City and Newcastle.
Only Everton and Bournemouth rank better than that over the first six Gameweeks, but Jordan Pickford (£5.5m) is some way out of the budget range now and it is not currently clear who the starting goalkeeper for the Cherries is, as we’ll explain in more detail later.
They sit rock bottom for that period as they face Liverpool (away), Chelsea (home) and Manchester City (home) during that period.
Outside of those fixtures, they also host Newcastle and travel to West Ham and Burnley.
Obviously, Norwich’s clean sheet potential during this run is incredibly low, considering Liverpool’s ruthless nature at Anfield, and the fact that the meetings with Chelsea and Manchester City are at Carrow Road – where the Canaries conceded more goals than on their travels last season.
However, Krul does have the potential to really rack up the saves over the early part of the campaign.
During the 2018/19 season, the Norwich man finished fourth for total saves in the Championship (136).
With the shots faced column expected to skyrocket for the Canaries this time around, the saves should follow suit.
We also recently unearthed some interesting data on where Norwich conceded shots from in the Championship, with a higher number coming from outside the box beneficial to Krul’s save potential.
Furthermore, Daniel Farke likes his side to play possession football, which starts with the goalkeeper. That’s why Krul finished top of the Championship for completed short-range passes (631) among shot-stoppers in 2018/19.
Both of those statistics should help boost Krul’s bonus potential whenever Norwich do keep clean sheets, which over the first eight Gameweeks seem more likely against Newcastle (home), West Ham (away), Burnley (away), Crystal Palace (away) and Aston Villa (home).
This is arguably the more problematic defensive rotation pairing of the two at this stage, although it could be cleared up by Gameweek 1.
Asmir Begovic (£4.5m) appeared to be the undisputed number one at the Vitality Stadium last season, starting every match in the first 22 Gameweeks.
However, he was inexplicably replaced by Artur Boruc (£4.5m) in Gameweek 23. The Polish international was the goalkeeper of choice for all but two of the matches between then and Gameweek 36, with Begovic coming back in for Gameweeks 32 and 33 only.
Despite playing half as many minutes as the Bosnian (1,080 to 2,160), Boruc kept four clean sheets to his five.
He also recorded significantly better minutes per save figures too (25.7 to 35.4).
However, both Begovic and Boruc are threatened by youngster Mark Travers (£4.5m) who came from out of nowhere to start both of Bournemouth’s last two games of 2018/19.
There was contrasting fortune between both of those appearances.
Travers kept a clean sheet, made five saves and earned one bonus for an eight-point haul against Spurs in Gameweek 37 before conceding five times at Crystal Palace on the final day of the campaign.
The 20-year-old missed Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers due to a fractured thumb but he is expected to be fit by the time pre-season begins for the Cherries.
He has also been linked with loan moves to Norwich and Leeds United but he has gone on record in the local press as wanting to stick around for the new campaign.
“I want to play for this club and hopefully I can do that. But at the end of the day it’s down to the manager and backroom staff with who they want to play. I just want to try to have good pre-season and get in the manager’s thoughts.” – Mark Travers
Manager Eddie Howe clearly rates Travers very highly given the comments he made about him after his debut against Spurs.
However, the crucial line from these quotes is, of course, the stress on the fact that a decision will have to be made over the summer over which goalkeeper will be number one come Gameweek 1.
“It was a great display from (Travers), he’s someone we really do believe in. He’s got great temperament and attitude to the game. He played like it was a training session and that’s a huge compliment. He showed real confidence with his feet. He kicked the ball well, made some saves and impressed with his all-round game management. It’s a nice problem to have and a decision I’ll have to make in the summer, in terms of what to do with all the goalkeepers we have. Mark hasn’t been out on loan this season. Aaron Ramsdale, who we rate highly as well, has been out on loan and done really well. It’s great to have two young, promising goalkeepers in our ranks, and of course we’ve got the two experienced goalkeepers at a top level as well. It’s slightly unusual that Mark hasn’t been out on loan to experience League One or League Two. That was the risk we took, but going on his training and the way he has conducted himself all season, as well as the club that we are – trying to give young players opportunities to develop – we decided to do what we did.” – Eddie Howe
Deciphering the Southampton goalkeeper situation is somewhat easier.
Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) started all but one match between Gameweeks 1 and 26, a Gameweek 21 trip to Chelsea.
Angus Gunn (£4.5m) made his first league start of the campaign then and kept a clean sheet, made six saves all for an 11-point FPL haul.
He then started all but one from Gameweek 27 until the end of the campaign.
Fraser Forster (£4.5m) came in for his first start since Boxing Day 2017 in Gameweek 37, where Southampton
The Southampton Daily Echo are reporting that Gunn is the first choice for Ralph Hasenhüttl for the 2019/20 with McCarthy and Forster expected to fight it out for second-choice.
Given the late-season run-out for Forster, when McCarthy was injured, concern from those looking in from the outside is certainly understandable.
Hopefully, pre-season matches can clear up any lingering doubts over the Southampton goalkeeping situation.
However, we should also point out the drawbacks of backing Bournemouth and Southampton in their home games.
The Saints kept just three clean sheets in front of their own supporters last season, only Manchester United registering fewer (two).
Furthermore, their first four at St. Mary’s in 2019/20 see them host Liverpool, Manchester United, Bournemouth and Chelsea.
The Cherries are the better of the two in this rotation.
They kept six clean sheets at the Vitality Stadium in 2018/19 and start the new campaign at home to Sheffield United.
The uncertainty over the goalkeeper situation at Burnley is just as bad as at Bournemouth.
Sean Dyche currently has Tom Heaton (£4.5m), Nick Pope (£4.5m) and Joe Hart (£4.5m) and has a real balancing act on his hands during the summer.
Pope signed a new contract in May to extend his stay at Turf Moor, while it was also reported that Heaton rejected a new contract amid supposed transfer interest from the likes of Aston Villa and Bournemouth (ironically).
What that means for Dyche’s team selection remains to be seen.
Hart started the first 19 games in a row, although he could be on the brink of a Turf Moor exit this summer. During that period, Burnley shipped a ridiculous number of shots.
No team faced more on target than them (116) and which helped Hart make more saves than any other goalkeeper (77) between Gameweeks 1 and 19.
However, nobody conceded more goals during this period either (41).
He managed to get just four clean sheets, Hennessey, Begovic and Patrício securing more shutouts, and indeed FPL points than him from the budget category.
Heaton then returned to start every match from Gameweek 20 onwards, which seemed to drastically improve Burnley’s defensive prospects.
Indeed, the Clarets conceded 41 times with Hart between the sticks, but shipped just 27 goals once Heaton had returned, with relatively little change to the back-four in front of him.
However, such is the enigma of the budget goalkeeper in FPL to some extent, Hart still scored more points than Heaton despite conceding more goals.
The former Manchester City man amassed 69 points across his 19 appearances, while Heaton managed just 58 from his half of the campaign.
The two of them also kept the same number of clean sheets, meaning that the main difference between the goalkeepers was the saves, as well as Hart’s solitary penalty stop compared to Heaton’s none.
Despite that, it seems clear that Sean Dyche favours Heaton over Hart at least.
Where the uncertainty lies is deciding between him and Pope.
After sustaining a dislocated shoulder last summer, he failed to make a single Premier League appearance for Burnley in 2018/19.
Pope made two starts in the FA Cup in the month of January, so while he was fit for the second half of the campaign, it was still Heaton who was preferred.
However, it is worth saying that the latter was much further along in his recovery from the same injury last season.
The 2019/20 campaign should see both Heaton and Pope back to their best physical state – so Dyche will certainly face a difficult task choosing between them.
Aston Villa also have a goalkeeping trio to choose from ahead of the new season.
Ørjan Nyland (£4.5m) was the number one at Villa Park last season having just arrived from FC Ingolstadt.
However, he did not play a single match in 2019 after rupturing his Achilles in a December training session.
He is expected to be fully fit for 2019/20 and with two years left on his contract will be hoping to stake his claim for a return to the side.
That said, Nyland did not necessarily impress before his injury. When his season-ending knock was confirmed, Villa had conceded 38 goals in 25 matches, 1.52 per game.
To cover Nyland’s injury, Dean Smith signed Lovre Kalinić but he himself sustained a knock after just seven starts.
That’s why Jed Steer was recalled from loan at Charlton and impressed enough to hold off competition from Kalinić once he returned to full fitness.
The uncertainty over the goalkeeper position here stems from the fact that Steer has not yet competed with Nyland – pre-season will have to tell us more.
Interestingly, Steer signed a new contract at the back-end of June and it looks as if he is the most likely to claim the number one spot by Gameweek 1 – although he has not yet been added to the game and neither has Kalinić.
“It’s great to have extended my contract. When I got told last August I could go out on loan I thought that was my Villa career probably over. To be sitting here now and about to embark on the Premier League with Aston Villa is something I couldn’t have imagined. I’m over the moon.” – Jed Steer
We also should make ourselves aware that Jack Butland has been linked with a move to Villa Park. If he were to sign for Dean Smith’s side that could uncomplicate matters, but we will have to see.
Scraping the barrel
There does appear to be little to go on in the £4.0m department at this stage.
The only goalkeepers in this price bracket currently seem unlikely to break into the first teams at their respective clubs.
David Button is firmly behind Ryan in the Brighton pecking order.
Pickford has a strong hold on the number one jersey at Everton, effectively ruling out Maarten Stekelenburg as a viable option.
Freddy Woodman at Newcastle would have to get past Karl Darlow (£4.5m) and Dubravka to earn regular starts.
At Norwich, Krul is the undisputed number one, ensuring Michael McGovern (£4.0m) won’t start much.
Finally, Will Norris (£4.0m) is currently behind Patrício and John Ruddy (£4.5m) in the Wolves pecking order.
Of course, with all of these options, they could come into play if injuries were to occur to their respective goalkeeping colleagues.
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