With Van der Sar's return to the reserves tonight, and Foster's continued struggle between the posts for the first team, it is likely that the English World Cup hopeful will see the end of his extended run and be replaced for gameweek 9 after the international break. At 5m he has provided decent fantasy value over the past 8 weeks and is currently held by 8% of fantasy managers. We are not seeing a massive amount of selling yet so there is no rush to act, but his owners will want to move him on assuming Van der Sar proves his fitness as 5m is too much for a 'keeper to warm your bench. The question is therefore who to get to replace him. I am not a fan of expensive keepers as 'save' points are the great equaliser that makes 'keepers from lower teams almost as valuable as the big boys. Add to that the strong performances of Birmingham, Burnley (at home) and Stoke this year and bargains can clearly be found.
Last season 11 'keepers were within 36 points of each and were lead by the cheapest of them all - Mark Schwarzer. This season has started in a similar vein with 15 'keepers separated by just 14 points and the top 4 including three 'keepers available for 4.1m or 4.2m. I outlined previously that I am an advocate of the 'keeper rotation strategy which calls for picking two players whose schedules compliment each other. This allows for favourable matchups to be played and avoids 4m sitting on your bench and never being used (as is the case if you spend 6m on, say, Petr Cech).
I will therefore suggest my favourite 'pairs' of players which will hopefully involve Foster owners making just one transfer (as they will likely hold one of the other players). I have only considered players available for less than 5m so Foster owners can pick them up straight away regardless of their monetary position. Based on who you already own, I would therefore recommend:
No less than 39.8% of owners currently hold Thomas Sorensen and with good reason. He leads all fantasy goalkeepers with 36 points and is second only to Vito Mannone in PPMS (1.098) after leading all players in that category last season. I will get to Mannone later but seeing as his sample size is just three games we can basically say that Sorensen has presented the best value so far this season.
Sorensen owners will want to grab a keeper who fulfils two key attributes: playing on a good defense and having good fixtures when Sorensen does not. If for example Sorensen gets Portsmouth at home (0.5 GPG) then there is little value in the fact that Myhill welcomes West Ham (0.75 GPG) as you will still play Sorensen anyway. The key games over the next 10 weeks for Sorensen owners are therefore weeks 10 (@Tot), 15 (@Ars) and 17 (no game). In these weeks Bolton have by far the best fixtures (Eve, @Wol, WH) with opponents averaging just 0.72 GPG in those three weeks. Sunderland (0.94 GPG) and Birmingham (1.00 GPG) also provide nice synergy with Sorensen. Of those three teams, Birmingham has the strongest defense and with two opponents (Sun and Bla) coming to St Andrews where they are very strong (0.75 GPG conceded) I think Joe Hart makes the most sense here. Needless to say, if you own Joe Hart then Thomas Sorensen makes sense in exactly the same way.
With 11% of owners holding Jensen he is the third most selected budget 'keeper behind the aforementioned Sorensen and Hart. Burnley's fixtures on paper look good but I would only be willing to play 'the beast' at home and so we are looking for a complimentary 'keeper with good fixtures when Burnley go away from Turf Moor. This rules Sorensen out due to his off week in week 17 which coincides with Burnley's game against free scoring Arsenal. Hart is also out as trips to Arsenal and Liverpool coincide with Burnley's trips to Blackburn and City. The best option is somewhat ironic in that it is Blackburn - Burnley's great rival - that provides him. Paul Robinson has been much maligned over the past couple of years but as fantasy 'keeper he has some value, highlighted by his 5 point haul this week despite conceding 6 to Arsenal. Robinson is a good shot stopper and should rack up the save points while his opponents in the four games we want to bench Jensen average just 0.375 GPG.
Short Term Solutions
A few budget keepers have risen to prominence in recent weeks due to injuries to their team's original number (indeed that's how Foster got his gig). I am of course talking about Mannone and Cudicini, who have both performed well since inheriting the gloves due to injuries to Almunia and Gomes. Arsenal didn't keep a clean sheet with Almunia between the sticks but have kept 2 in the 3 games with Mannone and could have kept one at the weekend, having conceded two freaky goals (one of which was probably Mannone's fault). Wenger has indicated that Mannone is the long term answer but Almunia is due to return in gameweek 9 rendering Mannone worthless in fantasy terms for time being. Cudicini is a different story as Gomes has returned from injury but Cudicini has kept his place. He only has one clean sheet in 7 appearances and Spurs defense has looked a bit shaky but 5 of the next 6 games look good and for 4.5m Cudicini can provide good value. Redknapp has suggested that the job is Cudicini's to lose for now so he might be a useful stop gap for those looking to ditch Foster and tho aren't convinced by any of the options above.