Hello and welcome to this year’s edition of Most Popular. Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately you’ll know that Fantasy Premier League finally reopened on Wednesday night. This means if you’re like me, you’ve basically been spending your time tinkering with your starting XI in the hope of creating something decent! For those new to FPLaddicts or have forgotten from last year, Most Popular is a series of articles in which I give a rundown on the most popular picks in each position and decided whether there selection is justified for your team or not. Today I’ll be starting with goalkeepers, lets get started!
Tim Krul – The most popular choice between the sticks so far is the big Dutchman from Newcastle, Tim Krul. Fresh off a quiet World Cup we have been given a blessing from the FPL gods with two cheap rotation friendly goalkeepers that won’t take up a hefty chunk of our budget. One of these blessings comes in the form of the keeper from Tyneside. Krul is currently selected by 23.9% of managers and rightly so due to his dirt-cheap price tag of 4.5m and reasonable early fixtures. Not only does he have price on his side, but he also rotates perfectly with Sunderland keeper, Vito Mannone, all the way up to gameweek 38. This means that all things going well, we have the possibility of having a goalkeeper who always has a home game. Keeping a clean sheet is much easier at home so this rotation, in theory, looks fool proof. Unfortunately there is always a but… The reason for his reduced price tag compared to years gone by is because of Newcastle’s poor performances last year, keeping an average 10 league clean sheets. Although not shocking, it certainly could be better and was largely boosted through a terrific midseason run, so with all these signings happening let’s hope they can tighten up down back for this season and develop some consistency! All in all I reckon Krul is a perfect choice for this upcoming season and having that rotation with Mannone is even better, lock and load!
Tim Howard – The second most popular goalkeeper is through the form of American shot stopper Tim Howard. Howard is currently in 21.5% of teams, a reasonable effort considering his price tag of 5.5m. Last year the Everton keeper kept an impressive 15 clean sheets, 1 shy of Golden Glove winners Petr Cech & Wojciech Szczesny, which resulted in a far from disappointing 160 points. Everton have a difficult opening month, facing two top four teams from last season sandwiched in between games away to Leicester and West Brom. Howard made a solid 114 saves and registered 7 bonus points last season which means he generates a fair chunk of his points from saves. Priced similarly with other big guns in De Gea, Szczesny, Lloris and Mignolet, Howard certainly faces stiff competition but Everton’s defence showed last season (at times) it could be rock solid. The second month of the Premier League sees trips to Anfield and Old Trafford and visits from Palace and Aston Villa. In a relatively tough opening 2 months I would say either save your money and grab Krul or make the switch to United keeper David De Gea, who is seemingly in for a big season.
Thibaut Courtois – The third most popular selection goes to a newbie to the Premier League in Chelsea’s keeper Courtois. Having been on loan at Atlético Madrid the past two seasons, Courtois has made a name for himself in the world of football and as a result has caused José to end that ongoing loan trend. Courtois kept a whopping 20 clean sheets last season and was definitely one of the reasons Atlético triumphed over Real Madrid and Barcelona, resulting in 19.5% of managers making full use of his Premier League appearance. The young shot stopper’s price reflects his impressive performances of late, resulting in an equal game-high 6.0m price tag for goalkeepers. Courtois shares his price tag with teammate Petr Cech and Manchester City stopper Joe Hart, basically reflecting the philosophy of getting what your money’s worth. Courtois has seemingly been given the number 1 role at Chelsea with Cech being linked to a possible move overseas, however I don’t see him going anywhere. Cech will look to fight for that number one roll so keeping an eye on Chelsea’s pre-season friendlies is critical, especially if you’re looking to select on of the two. Courtois said in an interview last month, “Do I want to be number 1 wherever I play next season? Yes, I think with my age and the performances I had I want to play. To be on the bench is not the nicest thing”. I’d say he wouldn’t be returning unless he’s been guaranteed the starting spot but because of this uncertainty I wouldn’t be selecting either of them, especially when you can save a whole 1.5m if you select Krul who should be in for a bigger season this year!
Boaz Myhill – Next we have the typical basement selection where the majority of managers scroll to the cheapest possible player and select him for their bench the whole season…. At least that’s what I hope they’ve done. Myhill experienced a taste of first team football while Ben Foster was injured, but his minutes were short lived once the Englishmen returned from his injury. Myhill is currently in 16.3% of teams but like I said earlier a major slice of this would be because of his basement price of 4.0m. Even if you’re only keen on playing the one goalkeeper it is still worthwhile to select a keeper who actually starts week in week out. Spending that extra 0.5 to grab Krul, Mannone or even Schmeichel will be worth your efforts to ensure cover for the possibility of injury, suspension or even late withdrawal!
Vito Mannone – To round out the top five the aforementioned Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone sneaks in by the slightest of margins, a mere .2% more popular than Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea. After an outstanding season last year Vito Mannone was absolutely critical in keeping Sunderland in the Premier League for the upcoming season and was simply awesome with his save points. A massive 131 saves and 16 bonus points last season was the highest from all keepers, which reflected his massive importance to the Black Cats. Costel Pantilimon made the move to the Stadium of Light over the summer causing some headache over the past few days as to whether Mannone will be guaranteed the starting spot. The move made me ask the question why would Pantilimon move from Manchester City to Sunderland just to sit on the bench? Keeping a close eye on Sunderland’s pre-season fixtures is vital if you’re looking to select the Italian as your keeper for this season. The fact he rotates so well with Tim Krul makes his selection a no brainer for me, they should be an awesome pair!
Well that wraps up the Most Popular Goalkeepers so far this pre-season. David De Gea was unlucky not to sneak in, being selected by a solid 15.3% of managers. Likewise Hart, Schmiechel and Szczesny all selected by 9.9, 9.5 and 9,4% respectively. Keeping an eye on pre-season form and fixtures is critical especially when making those decisions like Courtois and Mannone/Pantilimon. I’ll be back soon for another edition of Most Popular, next up its defenders! Cheers.