At 0.9% ownership at the time of writing, Fulham’s Marek Rodak is well down the pecking order for one of the two goalkeeper slots in most FPL teams. 13 goalkeepers at £4.5m or cheaper are more highly owned than the Slovakian shot stopper.
Now some of you might be scratching your heads at why I may be suggesting a goalkeeper from a Fulham side who conceded 81 goals during their last stint in the premier League. I suspect that may be in the back of a lot of people’s minds but here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t overlook Rodak.
The Fulham Defence
While Fulham ranked 4th for goals conceded last season (48), their defensive solidity in the second half of the season is definitely something to note. In the first 26 games of the season Fulham kept 7 clean sheets conceding 1.15 goals/game. From January onwards Fulham kept 10 clean sheets in 20 games conceding 0.9 goals/game. Aside from Rodak putting in some superb performances between the sticks two other things helped improve the side defensively, The addition of Michael Hector in January and a switch in formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1. The two CMs (in particular Harrison Reed) gave the defence more protection and Hector was a permanent fixture alongside Tim Ream at CB.
While a lot of the players remain the same as those who were relegated in the 2018/19 season, the team is a very different one and the route to promotion feels very different too. Our swashbuckling football that saw us go on a run of 23 games unbeaten in 17/18 is a thing of the past.
There’s still an emphasis on possession but the gung-ho attacking approach has been replaced by a much slower, more risk averse build up in play which can be quite pedestrian. It certainly isn’t pretty at times but its effective.
As the season progressed Scott Parker made the side more resolute defensively, perhaps at the expense of the attacking output. While we looked like we played with the hand break on in some games, Mitrovic still managed to take home the golden boot, finishing the season on 26 goals. Only Leeds (22) kept more clean sheets than Fulham.
Fulham won 16 games last season by just one goal. If a similar trend of a one goal margin were to continue this season it would likely mean Rodak would be in the running for bonus points in games with such a narrow win.
Scott Parkers men were particularly resolute in the Championship when they did take the lead. We didn’t lose a single game all season in which we scored the first goal with a record of 20 wins and 3 draws. Parkers ability to see out games was undeniably good. While he put the fear of god into me every time he switched to a back five the tactic proves extremely effective.
It’s widely believed that Fulham will sign a right back this summer, an area that was a particularly weak link during our last season in the Premier League. Another CB too is thought to be a priority to partner Hector. While Ream will probably play a part, he’s not the quickest of defenders. These additions should bolster the defensive line even more.
Once Parker gave Rodak the nod in goal in Fulham’s 13th league game of the season he never looked back and a string of impressive performances quickly made him a fan favorite. His shot stopping ability saved Fulham on a number of occasions, particularly away to Swansea and Derby.
13 clean sheets in 33 games gives him a clean sheet percentage of 39.39% This can only be bettered by Leeds’ Kiko Casilla (41.66%) and Meslier (70%) although it’s hard to judge the latter’s stats on such a small number of games.
Edersons 16 clean sheets won him the golden glove. In spite of this he was the 9th highest scoring keeper in FPL. A more popular pick such as Matt Ryan finished the season 2 points ahead of Ederson having accumulated 9 clean sheets and conceding 54 goals, 23 more than Ederson. Ederson simply didn’t save enough shots to earn save points and with Man City scoring over 100 goals he won only 2 bonus points.
Not only did Rodak keep a high percentage of clean sheets, he also made a lot of saves. He saved 99 shots in his 33 games averaging 3.05 saves/90. This would equate to a save point a game in FPL and one would imagine he would have more to do in the Prem. He also had a save percentage of 76.92, the highest of any Championship keeper bar Meslier.
The highest save percentage in the PL was 81.8% from Hugo Lloris. The highest scoring GK Nick Pope was second best saving 71.8% of the shots he faced and Sheffield Uniteds Dean Henderson saved 75.8%.
Expected Goals Against
Rodak had an xGA of 40.13. Having conceded only 33 goals this means that he saved just over 7 goals more than expected based on the quality of the shots he faced. Only Charlton’s Dion Philips betters this in the Championship.
Dean Henderson had very similar stats last season. He had an xGA of 41.3, conceding 33 goals in 36 games and preventing 8.3 based on expected data. Hugo Lloris came out on top preventing a massive 9.5 goals.
Fixtures and Price
Fulham have about as kind a run of fixtures as they could have asked for given the quality in the Premier League. We don’t face a single team from the top six in our opening 9 games. Leeds and Aston Villa in GWs 2 & 3 as well as Palace, West Brom and West Ham from GW6-8 in particular will be fixtures that Fulham will be looking to pick up points. Getting points on the board will be a crucial period in determining what kind of season we have.
In combination with the good run of fixtures, it’s easy to take a punt on Rodak with his £4.5m price tag. Especially with many managers looking to use their wildcard early this season, he can be easily transferred in or out of your team.
As we saw with Ederson, clean sheets alone do not make for the best goalkeeper choice in FPL. You need to look for a keeper with a good mix of clean sheets, save points and bonus potential. I believe Rodak has all the attributes to emerge as a budget friendly keeper. A much better chance of clean sheets for Fulham in conjunction with Rodak’s save point potential bode well for a good points tally. There’s also potential for bonus points too with the number of narrow wins Fulham had last season and their ability to see out close games.