With an increasing amount of Fantasy Football Managers activating the January Wildcard due to mounting concerns over injuries, it appears a good time for ATFPL to continue our analysis into the season changing asset and release the first Wildcard Watchlist. Throughout the week, ATFPL will present their thoughts and opinions on the players to consider across all price brackets, considering the fixture list both short and long term as we balance our approach to selection when building your Wildcard squad. Where better to start than between the sticks and Goalkeepers;
Starting every game since Gameweek 4, David Marshall’s seems the most secure route into a defence whose fixtures dramatically improve in the second half of the season. To date, Cardiff have relied on the shot stopper with 81 saves made, the most in the league helping a modest 5 clean sheets amass to 70 Fantasy Football points. Marshall is reasonably priced at just 4.7 mil and with the best points per game average at 3.7 from the Cardiff squad, the former Celtic stopper appears the best option from Solskjaer’s men. Add Cardiff’s long term schedule which includes home games against rival relegation candidates – WHM, NOR, AVL, HUL, FUL, CPL, STK – and Marshall is a viable option for the second half of the campaign.
Five clean sheets in ten since taking over from the injured Kieran Westwood, Sunderland have been improving defensively under Gus Poyet which has seen them concede just eleven goals in their last ten outings. Vito Mannone’s price of just 4.4 mil is the cheapest from starting goalkeepers and with 4.8 points per game, second in the league there is also a lot of value to be had. Looking forward, Sunderland have the best home schedule of anyone, making Mannone a season keeper if selected.
Julian Speroni’s attractiveness as a Fantasy Football option greatly increased with the appointment of Tony Pulis who since taking charge has guided the Eagles to five clean sheets in ten. However at 4.5 mil, the most expensive out of the Palace defensive ranks, Fantasy Managers may overlook the experienced Argentine stopper as an option and select a defensive compatriot instead even though at the above price, Speroni is one of the cheapest goalkeepers available. Short term home fixtures – STK, HUL, WBA – are good enough to potentially double up on Palace assets while longer term they will require a good rotation partner.
David De Gea
David De Gea is the most secure route into a Manchester United defence that has stuttered so far this campaign. Priced at a reasonable 5.8 mil, United enjoy a better fixture list in the second half of the season with only Manchester City and Liverpool in Gameweek 28 and 30 respectively the dangers at Old Trafford. For those Fantasy Managers who believe that the bigger clubs achieve more clean sheets as the season goes on – and rightly so -, De Gea is an alternative option for the remainder of the season. Everton were always slow starters under David Moyes. Has the Scotsman brought this trait to Old Trafford?
With 6 clean sheets to date, surprisingly Newcastle have already matched their season output from last. However, Alan Pardew’s men have been threatening to offer more with just ten goals conceded in their last eleven, only once conceded more than one goal. Perhaps more clean sheets can be had and priced at 5.3 mil, the Dutchman isn’t the most expensive gamble. With 3.9 points per game, the highest from the Newcastle defence, Krul also appears the best option if a Newcastle defender is what a Fantasy Manager wants. Another factor is the Home/Away rotation Tim Krul enjoys with the aforementioned Vito Mannone and this factor may actually turn out to be the biggest reason why Krul could see an upturn in ownership.
Expected to return before the end of the month, Michel Vorm has been badly missed in the Swansea ranks. With Vorm between the sticks, Swansea have amassed five clean sheets in thirteen while without his services they are yet to keep a clean sheet in seven. Priced at just 4.9 mil and potentially less by the end of the Wildcard window, Vorm offers tremendous value as a rotation partner to Cardiff’s David Marshall with Swansea’s home schedule one of the strongest with only Chelsea in Gameweek 34, a home game to avoid.
Southampton have been the surprise package in the Premiership and with seven clean sheets, they have done it based on a tight defence. Like Vorm above, Artur Boruc is expected to recover from a fracture hand before the Wildcard window shuts and priced at just 4.7 mil now and potentially less by the time he is available, the Polish international seems the best route into a defence that has kept as many clean sheets as Chelsea and Manchester City.
Playing every minute, Wojciech Szczesny has been a part of the Arsenal defence that has kept the most clean sheets in the league with nine which has surmounted to the Gunners shot stopper being top of the FPL points pile with 92. Short term fixtures are fantastic – avl, FUL, sot, CPL – offering a viable tactic to double up with Per Mertesacker and co and priced at 5.9 mil, Szczesny doesn’t break the budget if deciding to select him as your goalkeeper of choice for the second half of the season. Arsenal’s long term schedule is good with the aforementioned Boruc, a perfect foil to remove the Gunners tougher fixtures as mentioned in our Eyes on the Fixtures January wildcard article.