With little over a week until the start of the new Premier League season, Goal takes a look at the shot-stoppers you should be considering for your Fantasy Football team
There are two ways of going about picking your shot-stopper; either a high-cost top-end option, or a cheaper choice guaranteed to be playing week in, week out at a mid-tier club.
Over last season, options such as Hugo Lloris (5.5) or David de Gea (5.5) were occasionally rotated, removing the advantage of playing for a top-six club. In these instances Brad Friedel (4.0) and Anders Lindegaard (4.0) took up some game time, thus reducing their value over a season.
Goalkeepers earn the majority of their points via clean sheets, and this should be your first port of call when making your decision.
Last season Joe Hart (6.0) led the way with a league-leading 18, four better than his nearest rivals Pepe Reina and Petr Cech (6.0). Indeed, Hart has been the cornerstone of the best defence in the Premier League in each of the last three years.
On past form, if you can afford to pay top money for him, he is the standout option. Though with Manuel Pellegrini now at the helm, Manchester City are unlikely to be as pragmatic as they were under Roberto Mancini, so bear this in mind.
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GW1 v Newcastle (H)
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The Czech Republic international is the most expensive option alongside Hart and although he conceded two more goals than the Manchester City custodian, should be right at the top of your list - particularly with Jose Mourinho taking control of the Blues once more.
Under Mourinho in 2004-05, Cech set the remarkable record of going 1025 Premier League minutes without conceding a goal - later beaten by Edwin van der Sar - which helps validate the argument that he will have an improved 2013-14 season.
The same argument can apply to De Gea, who under David Moyes should see his goal lead a more protected existence - especially if a deal for Marouane Fellaini can be completed. Though they won the title last year, United conceded more goals than any of the top-four teams.
Statistically, Reina had a good campaign for Liverpool, which breeds hope that his replacement at Anfield Simon Mignolet (5.0) could follow a similar trend. The Belgian kept 11 clean sheets for a struggling Sunderland team and made 155 saves over the course of the campaign, just one behind league leader Jussi Jaaskelainen (5.0).
Both keepers are reasonably valued and make an enticing case for the No.1 spot in this year’s Fantasy Football game. However, whereas Mignolet will undoubtedly start for Brendan Rodgers, Jaaskelainen may not hold onto his shirt for the whole campaign, after West Ham signed Real Betis goalkeeper Adrian (3.5).
Along with Jaaskelainen, a number of economical shot-stoppers shone for mid-table clubs. Ben Foster (4.5) delivered the goods at West Brom as they enjoyed a surprisingly positive campaign, while Brad Guzan (4.5) collected points in a tough year at Aston Villa.
Both are decent options but without the goals of Romelu Lukaku West Brom could struggle this year, while Villa are still an uncertain package. Over at Swansea, regular Michel Vorm (4.5) has seen his place come under threat thanks to the masterful work of Gerhard Tremmel (4.0) in the Swans’ Capital One Cup-winning campaign and he may not be as much of a bargain as he looks.
You do need to consider a second goalkeeper and this will come down to personal preference. You may want to use Hart as your week-in week-out goalkeeper with someone like Vito Mannone (4.0) as backup, or to utilise two mid-range options like Asmir Begovic (5.0) and Artur Boruc (4.0).
Begovic has been a top performer in Fantasy Football ever since he claimed the No.1 shirt at Stoke and should represent good value under Mark Hughes. He kept 12 clean sheets last year and although Hughes may leave Stoke a little more exposed than under Tony Pulis, expect a revitalised Potters to push further up the table.
There are two other notable options. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard (4.5) is dependable but without the gritty defence-first style of Moyes, may be exposed a touch more under Roberto Martinez. Over at Newcastle Tim Krul (4.5) looks set to be back to full fitness and is an ever-reliable option. However, it is increasingly difficult to ascertain how the Magpies will perform this year, so he may be a transfer option part way into the year.
And finally, one to look at and one to avoid. Maarten Stekelenburg (4.5) is a newcomer to the Premier League after moving to Fulham from Roma. He is well-priced and should collect points, however be wary of the Cottagers' form under Martin Jol - only four teams conceded more goals than Fulham in 2012-13.
The other option is Wojciech Szczesny (5.0) who looks to have regained the No.1 shirt at Arsenal. At 5.0m he isn't cheap, but should keep his place between the sticks for the season. The Gunners only conceded two goals in their final six games of last year - excellent form that is worth considering.
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