After assessing the most popular goalkeepers yesterday it’s time for the defenders to go under the microscope. Like the goalkeepers I will be assessing the most popular picks and breaking down whether or not they will be good options for the upcoming FPL season – let’s get into it!
Per Mertesacker – Who would’ve thought the big German would be selected in over ¼ of all teams? Mertesacker is currently in 25.6% of teams and is certainly in mine. The 6 ft 6 giant is pivotal in Arsenal’s defense and was one of the reasons Arsenal were solid defensively at the back end of last years campaign. Priced at 5.5m Mertesacker will get off to a flyer with Arsenal’s relatively soft month, facing Aston Villa (H), Fulham (A), Tottenham (H) and Sunderland (A). With the huge derby against Tottenham the only seemingly difficult game for the Gunners, Arsenal should get off to a good start defensively. Not only does Mertesacker provide solid defence, he is also an aerial threat. Of course when you’re that tall you would automatically prove to be a hassle in the 18 yard box. Last year Mertesacker scored 3 goals in his best season in the Premiership. Although not a whopping number, Mertesacker will still be a target whenever they have a corner and will always have a chance of scoring. Personally I believe that he’ll be a fantastic pick, especially early on!
Leighton Baines – The most expensive defender in the game and nearly owned by 24% of all teams. And there is no wonder why. Baines is a magician. He is on free kick and penalty duties and can accumulate points week in week out. Pretty much the perfect FPL option, especially as a defender. For years Baines has been charging up the wings, assisting and scoring. And on a regular basis might I add. Last year he notched up 177 points which included 5 goals and 7 assists. A very, very good return from a defender. He is capable of scoring over 10 points even when Everton concede. The only downside to Leighton is the lofty price tag he comes with. At 7.5m he is incredibly expensive for a defender, especially when trying to fit in the likes of Bale (12m) and Van Persie (14m). Having Baines, Bale and Van Persie combines for just under a third of your budget (32.5m). Unfortunately for me I wont be starting with Bainesy, he is just too expensive. But like every year he will continue to score well and will continue to be in the top 5 scoring defenders. When you consider that he should press even further up the pitch in Martinez’s 3-4-3, the potential is certainly there! I recommend going cheap in defense as the majority of points come from Midfielders and Forwards. But definitely look to get Leighton in at some point during the year.
Pablo Zabaleta – The third most popular pick for 2013/14 is the ever attacking Pablo Zabaleta. After a fantastic season last year scoring 124 points including 2 goals and 2 assists, Zabaleta has fast become a very relevant FPL player. With 20.7% of managers opting for the City defender he looks a very good pick, especially with City’s immaculate opening month. City face Newcastle (H), Cardiff City (A), Hull City (H) and Stoke City (A) clean sheets look imminent. However we cannot just expect City to score a mountain of goals and not concede any, and with Pellegrini at the helm now it’s hard to know what to expect. We have to remember that they have a new manager and their game plan will be changed up from when Mancini was in charge. Keep an eye on City’s friendlies as I believe one of their defenders might be a necessity if they’re proving to be solid defensively.
Nathan Baker – The Aston Villa basement priced defender is the 4th most popular pick so far! But I don’t think its in the mindset of starting X1, that’s for sure. Baker is a fantastic bench option at D4/5 depending on what your structure is looking like. But I certainly don’t see him as starting XI material, especially with Villa’s horrid opening month, even despite their double in the opening game week. Villa face Arsenal (A) Chelsea (A) GW1, Liverpool at home GW2, then have a break, then face Newcastle at home. That is an extremely horrid month and one that would steer me well clear of starting Baker on my field. Personally he can sit on my bench and warm the pine. I recommend you all do the same, definitely not starting XI FPL material!
Branislav Ivanovic – The 5th and last most popular defender I will be covering is the big Serbian from Chelsea. After a stellar season last year in which he scored 143 points including 5 goals and 1 assist, there is no doubt Ivanovic had his breakout year. He was instrumental in Chelsea’s set piece attacks, especially when Terry was injured and Cahill wasn’t playing. Owned by just under 20% of teams (19.9% to be precise) Ivanovic seems like a great pick, especially now that it has been released Chelsea have a DGW in the first game week, but is he really? Chelsea face Hull City (H), Aston Villa (H), Manchester United (A), BREAK, then Everton (A). Chelsea start off with two very, very winnable and clean sheetable (??? Really???) games but face a tough next 3 weeks, playing United away, having a break, then travelling to Goodison to face Everton. After doing some research personally I think Ivanovic might have to be avoided. Especially now that Mourinho has come out and said that he considers Ivanovic to be a right back and that he and Azpilicueta will have to fight for the RB position. Plus Chelsea have a tough 3 weeks after the DGW. For me it’s a no, unless you’re looking to trade out after the DGW but that seems like a bit of a waste.
Anyway that’s a wrap of the most popular defenders. Next I will cover the most popular midfielders followed obviously by the most popular forwards. So look out for that shortly. Until then, take care.