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FPL tips: Why are two Brighton goalies so popular with the top managers?

Brighton and Hove Albion v West Ham United – Premier League – AMEX Stadium
(Image credit: Ian Walton)

When you think of the best FPL managers in the world, you probably don’t imagine a squad filled with Brighton goalkeepers – but that is exactly what is happening.

By analysing the movements of a group of 1,000 managers with multiple top-10,000 finishes to their name, we can find out what the best of the best do to prepare their sides.

With this in mind, we’ve taken a look into the biggest differences in ownership to see who our top manager sample are backing that the rest of us are ignoring.

A graphic showing the biggest differences in player ownership between elite FPL bosses and overall ownership

Seeing two Brighton keepers in the top three was not what we expected.

Gull-keepers

Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Jason Steele looks on during the Carabao Cup second round match at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Tuesday August 24, 2021

Jason Steele has not yet played a minute in the Premier League this season (David Davies/PA)

Brighton’s Robert Sanchez was owned by 83.2 per cent of our top manager sample in GW5, compared with 25.6 per cent overall ownership.

His team-mate Jason Steele, meanwhile – who has zero minutes this season – has an elite ownership of 50.1 per cent compared with just 3.7 per cent overall ownership.

While perhaps initially baffling, this would appear to be a widely-used tactic of the cream of the crop, who have saved money by acquiring a cheap first-choice goalkeeper along with his even cheaper understudy.

Sanchez’s first five games of the season were against Burnley, Watford, Everton, Brentford and Leicester, which were – on paper – highly favourable compared with other stoppers.

Having been picked by more than 80 per cent of our elite sample in each gameweek so far, it is clear that they spotted this trend of fixtures from day one and banked on Brighton showing some defensive cohesion.

Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez makes a save during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday May 23, 2021

Robert Sanchez was owned by 83.2 per cent of our top manager sample in GW5 (Neil Hall/PA)

With two clean sheets and 17 points from five games, their £4.5million man has delivered a good, if not spectacular, return – a couple of other goalkeepers have outperformed him with trickier fixtures.

Spending less in the GK position has long been a tactic of pedigree managers, and they found a way to minimise spend and risk further between the sticks by lumping in on Sanchez’s £4m team-mate Steele.

Steele has yet to play a minute in the Premier League, but looks to be Sanchez’s natural replacement should he succumb to injury, ensuring any FPL bosses who have both goalies should be covered.

The only problem with this plan would be if £4.5m Kjell Scherpen, the Seagulls’ third goalkeeper, earns the number two spot – at 21 years old, and having arrived at the club this summer, he may have some work to do.

For only £8.5m hundreds of our top bosses have – in theory – secured the goalkeeper position by leaning on a team which has conceded just four goals in five games, freeing up funds for outfield positions in the process.

Trent rockets

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold during the Premier League match at Turf Moor, Burnley. Picture date: Wednesday May 19, 2021

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the number one ranked defender for Creativity and is ranked seventh for Threat so far (Alex Livesey/PA)

Trent Alexander-Arnold comes in second in our table meanwhile, owned by a whopping 91.1 per cent of top managers compared with just 36.4 per cent overall.

The £7.6m right-back missed GW5 but registered two assists and three clean sheets in the first four gameweeks of the season, including two hauls of 12 FPL points.

The elite have clearly decided that, even with his hefty price-tag, TAA is a must this season – the number one ranked defender for Creativity, he is also ranked seventh for Threat so far.

The Reds defender scored 555 FPL points from 2018-19 to 2020-21, and notched four goals, 15 assists and 14 clean sheets in his team’s title-winning season.

Quite frankly, it’s a wonder 8.9 per cent of our elite bosses are yet to be convinced.