Our Fantasy Premier League guru Holly Shand is back for the 21/22 season, kicking off with her goalkeeper picks. With Emi Martinez seeing a steep price hike, it's time to broaden our horizons, she says...
"Brighton's Robert Sanchez is the second highest owned goalkeeper this pre-season and it's easy to see why."
The Headline Pick: Robert Sanchez (£4.5m) - Brighton
Brighton's Robert Sanchez is the second highest owned goalkeeper this pre-season and it's easy to see why. He's one of just two fantasy goalkeepers who played regular minutes last season to be priced at £4.5 million, having kept ten clean sheets in 27 games last campaign.
The Seagulls backline were imperious over the second half of last season, keeping eight clean sheets in 19 games - only Chelsea and Manchester City kept more shut-outs. Over the same period, Brighton were ranked second for goals conceded (17) and big chances conceded (19).
Brighton are blessed with a favourable fixture schedule to start the campaign: facing Burnley, Watford, Brentford, Crystal Palace and Norwich over their opening eight games. I'm always an advocate of spending as little as possible on goalkeepers in FPL and Sanchez seems like the perfect fit for the season ahead.
Brighton are now available to back at 6/4 to keep a clean sheet against Burnley in their opening game.
The Budget Pick: Ben Foster (£4.0m) - Watford
Keeping with the theme of spending the smallest amount of money on goalkeepers, there are fewer than ten goalkeepers priced at the smallest starting price of £4.0 million in the game. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like any of them are number 1 at their respective clubs, but there's perhaps a slim hope that fantasy stalwart Ben Foster gets some minutes between the sticks for Watford.
Daniel Bachmann looks to be first choice, but Ben Foster is something of a fantasy legend. He was a key figure for ten consecutive seasons, scoring over 100 points in his most recent four seasons in the Premier League. He's an excellent option to warm the bench.
Looking at Watford's promotion to the Premier League last season, they conceded just 30 goals in their campaign, keeping 22 clean sheets. They aren't known for their high goal scoring potential going forward, but certainly know how to keep things tight at the back.
The VAR Pick: Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m) - West Ham
Lukasz Fabianski is always there or thereabouts when it comes to delivering solid fantasy returns over a season. He's broken the 150 point mark in both 2014/15 and 2017/18 and has kept a minimum of seven shut-outs six of his last seven seasons.
What is of most interest though is his ability to save penalties. He's among the toughest goalkeepers to beat from 12 yards in Premier League history, with a huge seven penalty saves and he has a five point penalty save to his name in all of the last five campaigns.
West Ham were the surprise package of 2020/21, finding themselves in the top six, with a prestigious European slot too. Fabianski contributed ten clean sheets in that campaign, as the Hammers made strides to improve their solidity at the back. West Ham face Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Southampton in their opening four fixtures.
West Ham are now available to back at 9/2 to finish in the top six in 2021/22.
The Sleeper Pick: Illan Meslier (£5.0m) - Leeds United
Meslier had a very good introduction to the Premier League last season, finishing the campaign within the top three goalkeepers, having broken the 150 point barrier. Leeds United's style of play lends itself to their goalkeeper producing big fantasy points, due to the high volume of shots they concede.
Only Aston Villa's Emi Martinez made more saves in 2020/21, but his steep price increase to £5.5 million does diminish his appeal for this season. Meslier's 140 saves led to him collecting 20 bonus points - he tends to capitalise in the tight low-scoring affairs of Marcelo Bielsa's team. Despite this, he's in under 10% of fantasy sides right now.
Leeds United face a stiff test at the start of the season, facing Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool in their opening four games. However, if you are going with the Leeds shot-stopper, it's more likely in the hunt for consistent points from saves and the clean sheets will come over the long-term course of the season.
The Wildcard Pick: Vincent Guaita (£4.5m) - Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace's Vincent Guaita is the other Number 1 goalkeeper, alongside Sanchez, to be priced at a favourable £4.5 million. He does present a bit of a gamble though, with uncertainty at Crystal Palace after the departure of their experienced manager Roy Hodgson and an ageing squad, particularly in defence.
Guaita does pose some intriguing credentials though: he has kept a minimum of seven clean sheets over his last three seasons in the Premier League. In two full seasons, he's surpassed 100 saves and scooped upwards of 15 bonus points. He's a shot-stopper who can transcend the overall defensive quality of the team he plays in.
Looking at the short-term fixture schedule for the Eagles, it's going to be a very tough start to the season. They face Chelsea, West Ham, Spurs, Liverpool, Leicester, Arsenal and Manchester City over the course of their first ten games. It will take a brave fantasy manager to roll the dice with those fixtures.
Join our Fantasy Premier League mini-league competition, Betfair Battle, using the code nv8ng6 or hit the auto-join link. Good luck!
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