We’re running out of time, it’s under 24 hours to go now!!! In analysing the defenders I will be assessing the strength of each teams defence, then looking at their best options. Here we go!
I’m a firm believer that your team should have at least 1 premium defensive option, rotating between 3 positions is hugely risky. Chelsea are clearly the best defensive team in the league, so it’s a risk not starting with one of their defensive alternatives. In my opinion it’s between Azpilicueta and Ivanovic. I’m a massive fan of Azpili, I can’t believe he’s priced at 6.0. That’s a steal. He’s a favourite of Mourinho’s, so job security is not an issue. It’s not like his scoring rate was a tier below either. His ppg of 4.6 was just 0.1 behind Ivanovic, hardly worth the extra 1.0 if things stay the same.
Here is the difference. Ivanovic will have his bursts where he is an unstoppable fpl force, scoring and assisting for fun. He created 10 goals (4 goals, 6 assists) the most of any defender last season. Add to that being a part of Chelsea’s 17 clean sheet season, and it’s easy to understand why he’s priced at 7.0. However he accrued 10 yellow cards, and somehow ended up with just 13 bonus points. That concerns me. Azpilicueta played 1000 less minutes, got just 3 assists, yet managed 19 bonus points! Add that to the fact Azpilicueta had just 1 yellow card last season. What is more sustainable, Azpili’s bonus or Ivanovic’s goal scoring? It’s a tough call, but I’m happy to save the 1.0 here. I’ll stick by that when Ivanovic inevitably scores in GW1! Pass on Terry and Cahill. Zouma is pushing Cahill for his place, whilst Terry’s 7 goals is an outlier. He won’t repeat that! I’d go Ivanovic if you’re spending the 7.0.
Man City have Kompany and Zabaleta to choose from in the 6.0 range. 2 years ago that would’ve been unthinkable, now it’s a reality. Pellegrini has added creativity to Mancini’s squad, however they have lost their mojo in defence. They’ve never properly replaced Lescott in my opinion, although they tried when they purchased Mangala. If he comes good at 5.5 he will be a bargain, however watching them concede 4 to Stuttgart on the weekend has me avoiding them to begin with.
Koscielny is a great alternative if you’re after a premium option that won’t break the bank. There’s a lot of promise in this Arsenal defence, they’re extremely tough to break down at home. Here is a stat that stands out for me. Arsenal kept 11 clean sheets in Koscielny’s 25 appearances. Without him? 2 clean sheets in 13 attempts. It’s clear that Kos is hugely important to the Gunners, so when he’s fit he becomes a great option. His 4.4 ppg last season is an extremely solid return from a 6.0 option, I doubt you’d get that from a midfielder.
Everton’s full backs are always around the mark when it comes to premium defenders, and this season is no different. Baines‘ appeal is severely weakened without penalty duties (15 out of 16. I still can’t believe the lack of logic here). He will still be on free kick duties though, no other defender is capable of achieving 10+ assists! Coleman is a threat from both his crossing and bombing runs forward, I love his value at 6.0. Everton’s immidiate fixtures mean these 2 will come into contention in a couple of months time…
The rest of Arsenal’s defence comes in at 5.5, but I have my question marks. Mertesacker is an important leader and definitely one to consider, however if his form dips then Gabriel is knocking down the door. Bellerin is still young, so a fit Debuchy will get game time throughout the season. The left back slot is a lottery, even though Monreal is ahead at the moment that could change anytime. I’d prefer the job security and set piece threat of Koscielny.
Jagielka and Stones should be left alone for now, and even then I think 5.5 is on the expensive side. Everton would need a serious pick up in defensive returns to make that price tag viable.
Thus we get to Liverpool’s defensive options. I mentioned this in their projected XI coverage, and I’ll mention it again. In the middle of the season they kept a ridiculous 12 clean sheets in 21 games. They kept 2 in their other 17, including that embarrassing 6-1 loss against Stoke in the final gameweek (They return to the Britannia in GW1, the irony). You’re a ballsy man if you are willing to back them in. Clyne is over rated there’s no doubt about it, he’s hyped up and selected by most because, well, everyone else has selected him. Are Liverpool really going to better Southampton’s 15 clean sheets? Highly unlikely. So 5.5 is a fair price. Skrtel scored 7 goals in 2013/14, so he could be an option to consider if they look solid at the back. If Moreno can nail down a starting place then he will become relevant, however Gomez looks like he could prevent that becoming the case. I can’t see him starting regularly enough to become relevant though. Sakho is one to watch at 5.0, I don’t rate Lovren but clearly Rodgers does. Avoid for now.
Don’t touch Kolarov and Clichy, it’s not worth it. United’s relevant defensive options also come in at 5.5, which is rough considering they kept just 11 clean sheets last season. They did however turn things around defensively, often conceding just the 1 goal in games. Frustrating for fantasy managers, but something that must be taken as a positive sign. They could easily turn that into a few more clean sheets this campaign, I think Darmian is their best option. Shaw’s fragile body and bloated price tag has me weary.
If you think Southampton can repeat their defensive efforts (Again!) then Fonte and Bertrand come in at 5.5. Pricing Caulker at 5.5 is a farce. Yoshida looks like he could start GW1 if he can hold off competition from loan signing Caulker. I get the feeling he may get first crack at it, let’s hope at 4.5 he can nail down a regular spot! The best option in the Saints defence for mine is Cedric. Yes he didn’t start in the Europa League clash yesterday, but that doesn’t concern me. At 5.0 he could be awesome value if the Saints can prove us all wrong again, he is just as much of a threat as Clyne. It may be harder this time for Southampton, but don’t we say that every year? We’ll finally see if it was Schneiderlin holding the ship together.
Tottenham’s defensive assets also come in at 5.5. I wouldn’t touch Alderweireld until we know he’s a certain starter for the first few GW’s. Vertonghen scored 5 and assisted 3 in his first season, proving that he’s capable of attacking returns. Trippier is a joke at 5.5, well done fpl! Walker is still the number one right back in my opinion, he just needs to get fit. At 5.0 he could come into consideration. I just don’t trust Spurs defence…
Cresswell is basically a premium option, priced at 5.5 for his potential for attacking returns. He will have to improve on his 2 goals and 4 assists if he is to be good value, considering the Hammers defence was weak even with Allardyce at the helm! His underlying stats were better than his returns suggested, look towards him for a hot start to the season. West Ham’s fixtures are nice. I wouldn’t pay 5.0 for guys like Reid.
Aside from Cedric not much really tempts me in the 5.0 bracket. Williams is supposedly going to benefit from the BPS changes, but I don’t think we should let that blind us. He will always be a midprice player and 5.0 isn’t exactly value. I am a massive fan of backing in Tony Pulis’ defensive options, so I’m a fan of Lescott. I think he’s a safe starter and could be good value at 5.0 is West Brom can continue their defensive form. Just beware that they can keep clean sheets against anyone, so rotation may not be the best option.
Janmaat could be an awesome pick at 5.0 if Newcastle’s defence suddenly became capable. I don’t believe in miracles though. Van Aanholt could be a sneaky option, though I was only confident in selecting him at 4.5. 5.0 for a Sunderland defender is too risky, even if they can be solid when they really need to. That’s the key point, until they get in a relegation scrap they are usually hopeless!
Lastly I have an OOP prospect. Bacuna has been playing on the right flank for Villa during pre-season, with Hutton starting at right back. With a fair share of set pieces, Bacuna could be stunning value if Villa can even keep 10 clean sheets. He made 5 assists in under 1000 minutes last season, it’s almost like selecting a 5.0 midfielder who can get extra clean sheet points! Just beware when they concede 5+ things might not turn out so well…
There are a stack of 4.5 options, so I’ll keep this short. If you’re after rotation options that’s understandable, just know that you’re in for a lot of pain! There is certainly merit to it if you can successfully make the right calls, that’s easier done than said though. At the moment I am running with Bassong and Francis, a huge risk you don’t need to tell me! I feel that Norwich and Bournemouth can be solid enough, with easy early fixtures a key to me picking them. I’m not so sure Watford will be as good defensively, so I’d give their options a wide birth. I will rotate the pair next to Koscielny and Azpilicueta, something I believe can be solid enough.
O’Shea is a popular selection that I can understand. Sunderland are probably the most resilient of the 4.5 options, the reason I’m not considering him is that I already have Pantilimon!
I’m not a big fan of Crystal Palace defenders. People seem to be equating their high table finish and cheap defenders to good value! My favourite stat of the year. Palace kept just 2 clean sheets during Pardew’s 18 games, starting in the New Year. Why on earth would you want to own that?! I’d need to see them turn things around before considering someone like Ward.
Aston Villa are another defensive unit to consider, but once again they struggled defensively under their new manager. Sherwood kept 3 clean sheets in 13 games, but they kept just 1 in 7 at home. That included home games against Stoke, West Brom, Swansea, QPR and Burnley. Avoid.
Leicester’s options certainly have potential, especially Morgan. He is a secure starter and a set piece threat, so 4.5 could be fantastic value. I’m more inclined to see how they fare under a new manager before committing.
Finally Stoke need a mention. They aren’t the defensive force they once were under Pulis, with Mark Hughes changing their style of play completely. Don’t get caught in the nostalgia of past seasons, their 9 clean sheets are unlikely to improve this season. Muniesa could be a starter at 4.5, but once again I need to see improvement before selecting him.
Boom! Only the midfielders to go before I finally reveal my team! It’s all happening fast now, make sure you’re prepared for deadline! You wouldn’t want to get caught out my the site crashing…