The ABC FPL Transfer Guide – Wildcard: Goalkeeping Up Appearances 2021/22
At the start of last season I researched what went into elite performance for players in FPL and found that, for all the statistics and marginal gains that many of us genuinely enjoy searching for, you could encapsulate what makes a top FPL asset in three simple metrics:
A) Get Returns (5+ FPL points) in at least three of their team’s six most recent matches
B) Get a Haul (10+ FPL points) in at least one of their team’s six most recent matches
C) Play at least 410 of the available 540 minutes
I called these the ABC Transfer Criteria – signals you should look for that make a player, especially an attacker, worth keeping in your FPL squad or transferring in. With six Gameweeks now played in this fledgling Premier League season it’s time to get out the graphics and see which goalkeepers are performing at that elite level so far:
Technically speaking, no goalkeepers at all match our elite ABC criteria. Six of them come close, but none of those has managed a double-figure Haul in the last six gameweeks. Three goalkeepers, the ones in colour on the graphic (Sa, De Gea and Lloris), have, but they have only managed two Returns (at least one of which happened to be a double-figure Haul).
For long term FPL managers, this will not come as a surprise. The elite ABC criteria are designed to project which players are currently on pace to score over 200 FPL points over the whole season, and goalkeepers essentially never do that. They might maintain that scoring rate for a while but without ready access to goals and assists they don’t get those ‘single moment’ opportunities to bulk up their scores like outfield players can.
Goalkeepers do sometimes make it to 165+ points over a season, though, and any goalkeeper qualifying under criteria A (Returns) and C (minutes) is heading in that direction, as are those that have a Haul (B) and the minutes (C), but are one short on the Returns.Embed from Getty Images
Applying those guidelines to the graphic above indicates that an FPL manager should be alright if they’ve chosen any one of the top eight goalkeepers listed. Ederson is clearly head and shoulders above everybody else at the moment, but the actual difference in FPL points will amount to about one per game over much cheaper options like Robert Sanchez and Aaron Ramsdale. Ederson is also held back by rarely getting even the merest sniff of a bonus point thanks to the defence in front of him basically never letting him save an.
ything, not to mention making a zillion successful passes each while their compadres further forward rack up the goals.
And anyway, we know for a fact that Ederson willl not be playing in Gameweek 8. And neither will Alisson. Emiliano Martinez, despite a similar journey back from South American World Cup qualifiers, might, but it’s not certain. Elsewhere, Edouard Mendy is prone to the occasional match on the bench because Thomas Tuchel likes to give Kepa Arrizabalaga a run-out every now and then while David De Gea and Aaron Ramsdale could both be a couple of mistakes away from sitting in the dugout themselves and Alex McCarthy spent most of last season in a pas-de-deux with Fraser Forster. And, of course, any goalkeeper could pick up an injury or a red card in any game.
My point is that, in FPL, you HAVE to have two goalkeepers and your main one could miss games for all sorts of reasons. Unless you want to use a precious transfer in case of mishap you’ll need some kind of ‘insurance’ as your other pick, which is typically the reserve at the club of your main choice. In effect, FPL goalkeepers don’t cost £4.5m or £5.0m. They cost £8.5m to £11.0m because you have to have two and if the second one isn’t useful you risk throwing points or a transfer away.
Here’s a graphic that shows the current main goalkeeping options in FPL. Their Cost is shown, as is their Points Per Match (PPM) for the season so far. Val(ue) is calculated simply from dividing their PPM by their cost. This would make Brentford’s David Raya the best value goalkeeper outside the runaway value currently offered by Aaron Ramsdale:
However, you can’t just have Raya. You’ve got to have another goalkeeper. If you have another “main” one they will probably be expensive and you’ll keep being frustrated at missing clean sheets from whichever one you leave out. If, as many are doing, you choose Watford’s Ben Foster at £4.0m you are gambling that he won’t soon lose his place back to Daniel Bachmann under new manager Claudio Ranieri.
The safest, and least potentially annoying, thing to do is simply to choose the backup at the club of your main choice, though in most cases that will probably lead to a drop off in performance (unless it’s for Ederson where I would probably have half a chance of a clean sheet myself). So the second half of the table above shows the price of the likely reserve goalkeeper at each club (Rsv), what the Tot(al) price for the pair currently is and what the total value (VLT) would be for both of them if the reserve performed as well as the main goalkeeper.Embed from Getty Images
Ramsdale still comes out top, but he has played only four games so far where most of the others have played 6 or 7, so his PPM is not so “settled” and will probably drop down a bit over time unless Arsenal’s defence really is now on a different level to everybody else’s. Southampton and Leeds have both got some kinder fixtures on the way, but McCarthy and Illan Meslier have a lot of ground to make up even to get a moderate PPM.
Many managers will remember that Emiliano Martinez finished last season on 186 FPL points, one of the best performances by a goalkeeper in years. He’s still the fourth highest-owned goalkeeper despite a significant price rise and the wisdom of that 15% of managers seems clearer when you see the value of the combination of the Argentinian and his understudy, Jed Steer. If it were not for Arsenal’s recent resurgence the Villa pair would offer the best value in the whole league based on Martinez’s points per match.
What’s even better news is that Villa’s upcoming fixtures present several opponents ideal for FPL goalkeepers – the type of attacks that are good enough to get some shots on target but not adept at putting many of them away. This weekend Villa are at home to Wolves and they then visit Arsenal. Soon after they are at Southampton before entertaining Brighton with only West Ham in the middle to spoil the fun, and even the Hammers have slowed down from their prolific attacking start.Embed from Getty Images
If saving your money to spend elsewhere in your squad is your dominant consideration then Watford offer the very cheapest goalkeeping pair at a cost of £8.4m, but with Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United in their next five you shouldn’t be expecting too many clean sheets.
For only £0.2m more (and a whole £0.9m less than investing in Villa) you could land (or perhaps simply keep) the popular Brighton duo of Robert Sanchez and Jason Steele. They get a great fixture this weekend away at Norwich City and soon a visit from Newcastle and a trip to Villa Park. There is the small matter of Manchester City and Liverpool in Gameweeks 9 and 10, but the Seagulls’s defence is made of some stern stuff these days and a couple of low-scoring games against opposition distracted and perhaps a little jaded by Champions League exertions might make for a pair of low-scoring encounters.
In summary then, here are my goalkeeper recommendations if you’re Wildcarding this week:
Best combination of safety, reliability and value:
Emiliano Martinez / Jed Steer (Aston Villa – £9.5m)
Optimising money while still picking somebody plausible:
Robert Sanchez / Jason Steele (Brighton – £8.6m)
“I believe Mikel Arteta’s lads are this year’s Aston Villa from last year and I don’t mind having a non-playing reserve more expensive than the main pick”
Aaron Ramsdale / Bernd Leno (Arsenal – £9.3m)
“I never want to think about goalkeepers ever again and won’t even say the words Pep Roulette”
Ederson / Zack Steffen (Manchester City – £10.5m)