Those of you who are familiar to the site will recognise the Fresh Blood series, if not it’s quite simply a summary of all the newly transferred players making their way into England’s top division. Whilst there will be some far more exciting transfers to be studied up forward, it is vital that we begin our preparation with the defenders. After all, a truly great team is built around a solid defence. There’s some intriguing targets to have a look at, let’s get straight into it!
Ospina (?) ARS – I’ve gone slightly early on this one as he has not yet been released into the game, but this should be irrelevant. That’s because you shouldn’t be selecting him to begin with. Szczesny should start as the number one keeper and Ospina’s game time will begin limited, and unfortunately I expect him to get slapped a price tag of at least 5.0, more likely 5.5. His relevance is in the fact that he may push Szczesny for that number one keeper role at times this season. He is a quality goalkeeper, displaying his worth in making some crucial saves as the number one stopper for Colombia at the world cup, who reached the final 8 of the tournament. He took over from Hugo Lloris at Nice and was unchallenged since, he has experience and should bring exactly that to the club. Mark my words, he isn’t just coming to fill the numbers (Although the incredibly cheap price tag suggests otherwise). Wenger has come out and stated that he could take over the number one role if he proves himself to be the better keeper, at just 25 he certainly has the potential. Watch this space closely, I wouldn’t be picking Szczesny (5.5) with any great confidence long-term. Let’s hope he comes in at 5.0.
Gilks (4.0) BUR – Burnley signing Matt Gilks will bring plenty of experience along with him, aged at 32 with previous experience in the top division. I was excited when I saw the 4.0 price tag, however it seems that Heaton (4.5) will certainly get the nod between the sticks to begin with for the clarets. Gilks has been quoted saying:
“I know there’s a strong goalkeeping pool here and Tom (Heaton) was absolutely fantastic last season”.
“I’m surprised he didn’t make the divisional team, but he’s been a massive reason why Burnley are in the Premier League, so I know it’s going to be tough”.
“But I think in the Premier League you need competition for places and if I can keep the lads here on their toes and between us we help keep the club in this division, then that’s what it’s all about.”
Basically, only pick him if you want to tie up the Burnley keepers, and why would you want to do that? If there’s an injury to Heaton however, be all over him for your bench slot.
Caballero (5.5) MCI – There’s certainly some (a lot) of chinks in Joe Hart’s armoury, so he is by no means guaranteed a spot in goals for the upcoming season. New signing Willy Caballero is an experienced goalkeeper with over 100 caps for Malaga, who have been plying their trade in the BBVA (Spanish 1st division) for the past 2 years. He has previously thanked Pellegrini for challenging his mentality at Malaga (HINT HINT HINT) and helping him take his game to another level. So basically this is as it sounds. Last year Pellegrini didn’t trust Hart, but his backup wasn’t good enough, so he had to hand Hart his position back. He has gone and signed a proven keeper who he has previously worked with and admired. Caballero has Champion’s League experience. He has a better save percentage than Hart. He had the fourth best passing accuracy for Keepers in the BBVA, perfect for Pellegrini’s play style. Basically, Pellegrini has a big decision to make. England’s number one or his seemingly preferred option. I think his thoughts are fairly clear at this stage, thankfully we’re in luck. Man City have a tough start to their campaign, so it’s a fair plan to watch and see how things pan out over the first two months before making a decision. Definitely one for the watchlist.
Cresswell (5.5) WHM – Aaron Cresswell has made the move up from the Championship to the BPL, and it immediately attracted the eye of all keen fpl managers. Playing for Ipswich Town, he accrued 2 goals and 14 assists last season in a brilliant performance that earned him a spot in the Championship team of the season. It was no fluke either, in his previous 3 seasons he had made a total of 10 goals and 17 assists in England’s second and third division, proving he has the quality in the final end of the pitch. The Hammers defence needs no introduction, after registering 7 cleans sheets both home and away last season making them one of the best budget defences. Big Sam always likes to keep clean sheets, so this seems like a match made in heaven. There are some catches though. Allardyce has been quoted saying he wants to change West ham’s playstyle, and it hasn’t started well. A 2-0 loss to the Wellington Phoenix followed by a 3-1 loss to Sydney FC is about as bad as it gets, so there’s a lot of work to be done. Finally the killer blow is his price tag. Many were hoping for an introduction at 5.0, but that wasn’t to be the case. I can’t see any value in him at that price, so it’s a pass for me to start with. If his share of set pieces looks like it’s paying dividends then things may change, but with Carroll out injured (Surprise) that just doesn’t seem a likely scenario.
Janmaat (5.0) NEW – The Dutch right-back has arrived at Newcastle on the back of some great performances during the world cup, and should serve as a straight replacement for Debuchy. He will be nailed on, and has shown capabilities of producing at both ends of the pitch. Last season he nabbed 2 goals and 5 assists in the Eredivisie, proving he can gain some vital attacking points as well. Regardless of Newcastle’s solid home games early on, there’s one hurdle here which I cannot step over. A Newcastle defender priced at 5.0 should be passed on immediately. If you’re really desperate for some Toon coverage, Krul rotates with Mannone whilst Colocinni gets bonus points for fun (Both at 4.5). Pass for me.
Luis (6.0) CHE – Definitely the most intriguing transfer in defence, Felipe Luis comes to Chelsea with an eye on the open left back role vacated by the exiting Ashley Cole. For starters, he should be a lock in Chelsea’s best XI which is a massive boost for his prospects. He is priced at the same level as Azpilicueta, but with Ivanovic also competing for the right back role you would have to suggest that Luis looks the man to select. He has come from a title winning club at Atletico, winning the BBVA and making it to the final of the Champions league. He has experience and should provide some much needed quality down Chelsea’s left side of defence. Looking at his stats last season he made 5 assists, if you consider than only Zabaleta and Kolarov bettered that last season then you’d say he’s done pretty well. He did however pick up 7 bookings, something to be aware of but certainly nothing worthy of taking him out of your plans. All in all he looks a solid selection and if you’re going to pay 6.0 for a defender, Luis would be my pick.
Dionatan (4.5) STO – Otherwise known as Teixeira, Dionatan arrives at Stoke as a young centre-back looking to ply his trade. He turned 22 years of age just 3 days ago and looks a prospect for the future, with Stoke extremely excited with his potential. Fortunately for us we don’t care about potential, we live in the now, and there’s no way he will be replacing Shawcross or Huth to kick-off the season. If injuries start to hit then he may come into our preparations, he did notch 3 goals from set-pieces at his previous club so there is some fantasy potential there. Pass for now.
Pocognoli (4.5) WBA – Lastly let’s take a look at Pocognoli, a left back who has recently signed for West Brom for an undisclosed fee. He made 30 appearances for Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga last season, impressing defensively but failing to register a goal or assist throughout the whole campaign. I’m not too sure where Olsson will fit in, either way neither should be options for our squads. Priced at 4.5, you can grab Andrew Wisdom for just 4.0 who should get a lot of first team experience this season. Save the coin.
That’s it for the defenders today! There’ll be more to follow, I will cover any new transfers just before the seasons starts. Next up, the new midfielders will go under the microscope! If you’re wondering about players who have switched between clubs (And there’s a lot) Nick will be bringing back his transferred players series, so that covers that! Seags will be bringing us his projected Chelsea starting XI tonight, so stay tuned for that. Hope you all enjoyed, and I’ll see you back for the mids!