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Pickford, Onana, Johnstone or Kepa: Tips to Choosing the Right Goalkeeper For Your 23/24 FPL Team

Pickford, Onana, Johnstone or Kepa: Tips to Choosing the Right Goalkeeper For Your 23/24 FPL Team

The Community Shield is now past us. While arguments of whether it is a real trophy or not will always continue to take place. It will forever have the status of being the curtain raiser of a new season of the English Premier League.

Arteta’s men’s triumph is the commencement of the final set of days for teams to prepare themselves for the campaign ahead. Fantasy Premier League managers for them, it is time for the final few tinkering in their drafts before game week one.

The Goalkeepers:

Before discussions take place of the men between the sticks and choosing the right players which in recent times have proven can go wrong for many Fantasy managers. There is an introduction to the new rule that deserves attention.

Premier League this year will follow the world cup format when it comes to injury time minutes. Criticisms were placed last year, in particular towards Eddie Howe’s men for playing time in matches not even crossing the fifty-five-minute mark.

This season be ready for ten, twelve-minute injury time minutes in similar to the tournament in Qatar.

Impact of the extra injury time minutes:

The introduction of this new role would likely to have an impact on matches and therefore FPL outputs. Attackers like Mo Salah and Bruno Fernandes will be able to benefit from tiring defenses. These players rarely get subbed and are one penalty duty and therefore stand as likely advantageous for them.

From a defensive standpoint, it is the goalkeepers that might gain the biggest advantage.

The extra playing time minutes, accompanied hypothetically with close score lines, one team pressing the gear on the attack, while the other looking to defend leads, or even a big team drawing at home, all in all, will lead to more saves and therefore save points.

These are just some of the likely scenarios. Ball-playing goalkeepers who are good with their feet accumulating saves and taking part in a team build-up will skyrocket in the bonus points system.

At the same time, however, a double of defense with the new rule might prove to be a recipe for nails in the mouth for many Fantasy managers watching the game with their assets involved. 

How to choose the right goalkeeper?

Historically the £4.5m goalkeepers are the most set-and-forget option for many managers. Many old-fashioned players of the game almost have a theory against going above the £4.5m mark in the goalkeeping department.

The nice point accumulation throughout the season at the mentioned price helps in building teams with the extra £0.5m or even the extra million that needs to be paid for the keeper of an elite team. That money instead goes into the places to buy the extra expensive defender or the attacker.  

The arrivals of keepers like Pope and Martinez in the recent seasons along with the likes of Ramsdale and Kepa and now the newly signed Manchester United keeper Onana, have certainly pushed the £4.5m goalkeeper philosophy into a spot of discussion.

Many managers have opted out of the theory and went for the £5m plus assets having a bolstered point benefit as a result. Exceptions are in place, of course, Ederson comes to mind or anyone buying Alisson in the heyday of Liverpool assets instead of going three outfielders from the team.

The best combination of choosing the right goalkeeper is a mixture then of save points plus clean sheets. Only clean sheets or only save points is likely indication of the player will likely not accumulate many FPL points to provide benefits for the owners buying the player as an asset.

Alongside, of course, are combination factors of if better options are available in the same team, and therefore investing in a goalkeeper will take a spot away from the three coveted allowed spots.

The best list of the £4.5m keepers to choose from: 

The £4.5m goalkeepers list this season from the surface of it is a little dicey.

Steele is not 100% to be the first-choice keeper and there are uncertainties elsewhere, there is no one outstanding on this list. No one providing an obvious answer from the player pool, but a more micro analysis might change perceptions of this category.

Jordan Pickford:

Everton has struggled immensely in the seasons gone by. The Toffees have flirted with relegation and there has not been any eyeball-grabbing signings over the summer to suggest great anticipated excitement.

However, they have as manager a certain Sean Dyche. Despite all their struggles last season, Everton managed four 2-0 score lines at Goodison Park since Dyche’s arrival.

Everton’s first eight fixtures include Fulham at home, Wolves at home, Luton at Home, Bournemouth at home, and there are rumors their second fixture against Aston Villa, away, might become a home tie for Everton.

This means The Toffees might start with three home games. Dyche’s Burnley was the most attractive to choose goalkeepers from due to his team conceding low xG chances from outside the box.

The resultant combination is several saves providing save points when a clean sheet is kept. The goalkeeper usually has the ceiling of a ten-pointer due to the combination of both.

If Dyche does manage to get Everton into similar form and territories, Pickford with the fixtures can be FPL gold.

Sam Johnstone:

Johnstone only started the last nine fixtures for Crystal Palace last season. He is currently sitting on only 1.3% of teams at the time of writing.

Statistically, the Palace shot stopper had the lowest big chances faced per game with 1.33 amongst the £4.5m assets. Minutes per expected goals conceded were 74.5, the most in that category.

Johnstone could be the best differential pick in this price bracket. He is assured to start the season, and numbers show Crystal Palace is more than sound defensively under Hodgson. Palace faces Sheffield, Wolves, Fulham, and Palace, in their first eight games.

Even going beyond the eight-game threshold marks, Johnstone could be in the season-keeper category. At such a low ownership, if he continues his good form from last season, attracting new owners, his price can rise astronomically providing another advantage for anyone starting with him from the start.

To provide some caution to the wind, Palace was amongst the best teams in the fixture ticker in the last nine games last season incidentally when Johnstone started for the Eagles.

Jason Steele:

Fantasy managers would have looked at Steele many times while making different drafts. The arrival of new keeper Verbruggen and the 50% plus ownership of Estupinan has done enough to keep Steele being anywhere near overtly popular.

Something he would have perhaps in another season under different circumstances. Steele has a meager 6.2% owned by managers.

Arguments and vehement arguments can be made against the low ownership that seems to have been a combination of popular narratives of insecurity of starts and Estupinan being way more attacking and having a way greater upside.

Brighton is by far the best team with a £4.5m budget goalkeeper. They are in Europe this campaign and chances are Verbruggen will be playing most games while Steele continues in the league games.

He has started consistently in the pre-season even registering an assist to his name. Steele is also more suited long-term to the style of play Brighton applies while Verbruggen is still getting accustomed.

As far Estupinan is concerned, he has player ownership of 50% plus. That means he is the Tripper of this season.

Any points he acquires won’t affect team ranks due to his high ownership. This is accompanied by Brighton’s fixture turning for the worse post-game week 3.

A goalkeeper can easily be started in tougher fixtures against almost any team. For defenders to start in them there will need to be reliance on attacking outputs once clean sheet hopes are extinguished.

A double-up on the Seagulls’ defense can be done, moving Estupinan on post-game week 3 while Steele continues.     

Mark Flekken:  

Brentford faces Fulham, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Everton, Forest, and Burnley in their first nine fixtures. If Raya was still part of the squad, he would have surely been in the conversation as the best goalkeeping asset. The arrival of Mark Flekken has of course changed things.

Brentford are a good side defensively, there is no doubt about that. Their solid defensive numbers were though a combination of good defense and a large reliance on Raya. His saves and communication skills have helped the side, multiple teams, since their first season in the big time.

Flekken on the other hand, his showings in the pre-season have left much to be desired. There are clear communication gaps between him and the defense and his abilities as a shot-stopper haven’t been to the best start either. He will have to do better in both departments.

For now, he remains almost a non-option.

Fabianski and Areola

Areola at £4.0m could have caught the eye of a good pre-season was on display from the Frenchman. However, continuing Flekken’s trend at Brentford that haven’t turned out to be the case for Areola either.

Moyes for his part has rotated both his keepers, Fabianski and Areola, without a clear indication of who his number one will be. Areola has started most games with the B team of the Hammers.

Even if the French stopper was to start game week one, he can lose place if a few bad performances are in play. He exactly as mentioned hasn’t covered himself in glory in pre-season either.

Fantasy managers can choose to go both Fabinaksi and Areola, the dullard combination of course. But West Ham’s numbers are poor since last season and there are better options and combinations elsewhere. To go Maverick and select Areola and another £4.0m is not worth the risk of the point 0.5m that is going to be saved.

Dean Henderson’s transfer to Forest might garner interest, but Forest as a team doesn’t inspire much confidence at the moment, or other similar teams for that matter.   

The £5.0m keepers, is anyone other than Onana worth discussing?

Andre Onana:

The newly signed Red Devils keeper has been the source of much discussion since his inclusion. He is the answer to both Manchester United’s goalkeeping problems and the FPL manager’s search for a golden keeper. There isn’t much that warrants to be written here and that isn’t already being said.

Important it is to note, the goalkeeper position is not set in the Onana stone. Manchester United still as a team has a lot of improving to do defensively and their fixtures post-game week 3 aren’t that great. Added to the list is a probable mistake in Onana witnessed in the pre-season.

He is after all coming into a new league. The Nigerian has been outperforming his stats in the Champions League last season, but not to get too high on hopes. It is important to have expectations that Onana will be good, but he will be good as a £5.0m goalkeeper does. A fancy on Shaw in place of Onana is certainly worth considering.

Kepa Arrizabalaga:

Kepa can still very much have his shout. Chelsea’s fixtures turn great post-game-week 3 and managers looking to hop early on the train will have Kepa in their minds. He was great FPL-wise in the middle part of last season.

What might stop managers from buying Kepa as an asset is the possibility of Chelsea players other than the likes of Chilwell or James, to emerge. Mudryk, Nkunku or Sterling, or Jackson can all become options and at the available price points, great options.

Kepa in such a scenario can become a liability of being a placeholder not allowing the Fantasy manager on him to go for three Chelsea outfield assets without two transfers including a goalkeeper transfer. That one always hurts.

Martinez under Emery at £5.0m can also become a great option for any manager looking to go different. Other than the Argentine, other assets are not worth considering at the start of the season.