There is a selection of viable goalkeepers in the mid-price and premium price brackets ahead of Fantasy Premier League’s return.
With the fixtures now rolled out, we have been going through each position by price to pick out the best assets for the next round of action.
We have already looked at the increasingly sparse category of budget goalkeepers as well as the defensive rotations on offer in that position and for budget defenders.
With more money required to buy into this bracket of goalkeepers, we will be assessing which, if any of them, could act as a set-and-forget option between now and the end of the campaign.
David de Gea
- Price: £5.3m
- Ownership: 11.4%
- Next four fixtures: tot | SHU | bha | BOU
Manchester United’s defence certainly offers plenty of potential to Fantasy managers ahead of the Premier League’s restart.
They were among one of the best performing back-lines in the lead-up to the coronavirus suspension and return to action with a long-term set of appealing fixtures.
Between Gameweeks 24 and 29, Manchester United were joint-top in the division for clean sheets, keeping a total of four, while Burnley (two) were the only club to concede fewer goals than them (three).
Admittedly, they did ride their luck at times, as they conceded 48 shots in the box during this period, more than nine other teams. The Red Devils overperformed against their expected goals conceded, suggesting they should have been breached more times than they were between Gameweeks 24 and 29.
However, it must be said that David De Gea (£5.3m) played his part in that overachievement, saving 15 of the 18 shots on target he faced during that period. While 12 goalkeepers produced more stops than him in those six matches, the Spaniard’s save percentage was among the highest.
Between Gameweeks 24 and 29, Nick Pope (£4.9m) topped this chart with 90.5%, Hugo Lloris (£5.3m) was second on 84% while De Gea was joint-third on 83.3%.
Even if it is difficult to read too much into from the pre-coronavirus era, Manchester United’s fixtures still stand out.
In the short-term, they are slightly less appealing, with Tottenham and Sheffield United their first two restart opponents.
However, with those games are out of the way, United face Brighton (away), Bournemouth (home), Aston Villa (away), Southampton (home), Crystal Palace (away) and West Ham (home) before going to Leicester on the final weekend of the campaign.
Across that final block of nine matches, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have just one match against last season’s big-six, the fewest of any team in the Premier League.
Furthermore, they are joint-top for remaining fixtures against teams in the bottom half of the table alongside Manchester City with a total of six.
- Price: £5.2m
- Ownership: 9.9%
- Next four fixtures: whu | BOU | avl | ARS
Since arriving in the Premier League, Wolves have typically been clean-sheet-nearly-men. However, they began finding some traction in that department in the first few months of 2020.
Like Manchester United, Nuno Espirito Santo’s kept four clean sheets from a possible six in the build-up to coronavirus suspension, conceding just four times (joint-third best).
Crucially, they benefited from the return to fitness of Willy Boly (£4.8m), who rejoined his colleagues in the Wolves first-team for the Gameweek 25 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
In the 2019/20 season so far, Wolves have kept seven clean sheets in 13 appearances made by Boly, and just one shut-out in the 16 matches played without him.
That bodes well for Rui Patricio (£5.3m), especially in light of Wolves appealing fixtures.
The next three look particularly good for the Portuguese international as he faces West Ham (away), Bournemouth (home) and Aston Villa (away) in the first three post-suspension Gameweeks.
It does get a little more mixed for Wolves after that, but not by much. They then host Arsenal, Everton and Crystal Palace as well as travelling to Sheffield United, Burnley and Chelsea. The Gunners and Blues are perhaps to teams to worry about in that run, but any Patricio owner would be more than happy starting him against most of those clubs.
His ability to rack-up saves also took an upturn in the months before the coronavirus suspension. Between Gameweeks 24 and 29, Patricio stopped 83.3% of the shots on target he faced, the joint-third best in the division, level with De Gea.
- Price: £6.0m
- Ownership: 11.7%
- Next four fixtures: ARS + BUR | che | LIV | sou
The main appeal of Ederson (£6.0m) is not difficult to understand: Double Gameweek.
But it’s more than just about the two fixtures for the Brazilian, it’s the fact that he probably remains the only nailed-on Manchester City player to start both games.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) is likely to be popular with Fantasy managers and, even though he is exceptionally important to Pep Guardiola, even he faces more competition for his place than the goalkeeper.
Ederson’s appeal in the immediate short-term is increased by the lack of clarity over outfield defenders at Manchester City.
In ordinary circumstances, Fantasy managers might look to Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) on a larger scale but right now it is difficult to predict he would start both Double Gameweek matches.
The Frenchman had only just returned from injury when the Premier League was initially suspended, making just three appearances between Gameweeks 24 and 27 – none of which lasted longer than 77 minutes. In fact, the last time Larpote played a full 90 minute match in the Premier League was all the way back in Gameweek 3. Guardiola typically likes to manage the minutes of anyone he deems not to be fully match-fit, which could arguably apply to any outfield player in his squad considering how long they have been able to train together.
Both of Manchester City’s Double Gameweek fixtures have their appeal, especially as they are both at the Etihad Stadium.
The Citizens kept a clean sheet at the Emirates earlier this season and restricted Burnley to 89 minutes without a goal before giving a late one up in a 4-1 win.
Beyond the opening Double Gameweek, there is slightly less to like about Manchester City’s fixtures as they face Chelsea (away) and Liverpool (home), especially considering Ederson’s premium cost.
- Price: £5.3m
- Ownership: 16.3%
- Next four fixtures: avl + new | — | TOT | bur
The same could potentially be said about Dean Henderson (£5.3m), who also has an appealing set of Double Gameweek matches in the short-term but a questionable schedule beyond it.
Aston Villa and Newcastle were among the most goal-shy teams in 2020, both of them featuring in the bottom five for goals scored between Gameweeks 24 and 29 (five and three respectively).
That combined with Henderson’s impressive save rate over the same period (81.3%) makes the Sheffield United man a serious contender for a place in Double Gameweek 30+ squads.
But is he worth holding onto beyond that? Potentially not. In Gameweek 31+ the Blades face Manchester United, a game that Henderson will have to miss because he is ineligible to face his parent club.
After that, it’s a home match against Spurs, who scored the third-highest number of goals in the six matches prior to coronavirus suspension.
A trip to Burnley in Gameweek 33+ is certainly worth starting him for, but after that, it’s Wolves and Chelsea. As we referenced in our budget goalkeepers article, Henderson is best paired with a cheaper option to plug the gaps in his mixed schedule.
- Price: £5.0m
- Ownership: 5.6%
- Next four fixtures: mci + bha | sou | NOR | wol
Fantasy managers looking for a goalkeeper with a decent set of games after a Double Gameweek should definitely consider Bernd Leno (£5.0m).
Arsenal’s defence has never been particularly impressive but the clean sheets did take something of an upturn under Mikel Arteta.
Between Gameweeks 24 and 29, the Gunners recorded three shut-outs from a possible six, the joint-second best in the division.
There was an element of fortune about that statistic, as can be referenced in full IN THIS ARTICLE. However, Leno also played a part in helping Arsenal overachieve against their expected goals conceded (xGC).
He saved 19 of the 23 shots on target faced in the last six matches before the coronavirus suspension, at a rate of 82.6%. Furthermore, the Arsenal man is second for saves across the whole campaign (104), behind only Martin Dubravka (£5.1m) on 116.
That particular stat is sure to come in handy when Arsenal travel to face a busy Manchester City attack in Double Gameweek 30+, while Brighton (away), Southampton (away) and Norwich (home) are certainly to be considered favourable fixtures.
As already referenced, perhaps the biggest risk with Leno is the fact that their defence was still papering over cracks in the early months of 2020.
Between Gameweeks 24 and 29 they recorded a relatively high xGC of 10.06, the seventh-worst – but conceded just four times. That led to them achieving the lowest xGC delta of -6.06. Effectively, they should have let in more goals than they did. Such a long time without competitive football could always see Arteta’s men revert to normal.
- Price: £5.1m
- Ownership: 1.8%
- Next four fixtures: SHU | AVL | bou | WHU
The final two options to briefly consider are included largely on account of their save-making abilities.
Across the whole course of 2019/20, Dubravka leads the way for stops (116) and was third for the same statistic between Gameweeks 24 and 29.
Newcastle’s fixtures also appeal with Sheffield United, Aston Villa and West Ham all set to come to St James’ Park in the first four Gameweeks of the Premier League restart.
The Magpies kept three clean sheets from the last six matches before the coronavirus suspension but were potentially lucky to do so. During this period they were fourth-worst for shots on target faced, although that may well have been a benefit to Dubravka – and could be so once more.
- Price: £5.0m
- Ownership: 2.1%
- Next four fixtures: bou | liv | BUR | lei
As already mentioned, our final inclusion gets onto the list on account of his save-making ability.
In the last six matches before the coronavirus suspension, Vicente Guaita (£5.0m) was second (25) only to Aaron Ramsdale (£4.5m) for total stops (29).
Those efforts led to three clean sheets for Crystal Palace, the joint-third-best in the division over the same period.
Crystal Palace’s immediate fixtures for the restart are certainly mixed, but meetings with Bournemouth and Burnley have some clean sheet potential while Liverpool and Leicester could be the opposition to unlock save bonuses from Guaita.
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