Top FPL Defenders
Defensive stability is key for managers who are to make the most of their free transfers from the off.
Selecting a top FPL GK and optimal defenders from GW01 could give managers a boost as they would have the freedom to alter their attacking line with more flexibly than managers who took risks at the back. Blending the cheap with the premium defenders could be an effective formula this season. Hence, I’ve selected 5 defenders from different price brackets that are poised to have a good season.
Trent Alexander Arnold (7.5)
The first defender on the list is none other than Trent Alexander Arnold. In spite of his hefty price tag he’s already owned by slightly more than half of the FPL managers. He enters the season amid huge hype surrounding him. Much has been said about his attacking exploits and his potential to deliver double digit figures on a regular basis.
Numerous FPL writers and commentators have already pinpointed him as a “must-have”. Even though I don’t believe in the word “essential” from many points of views he is that kind of player who can score against the big six out of the blue. No side registered more attempts from direct free kicks throughout the season than Liverpool (20, joint with Everton).
Andrew Robertson (7.0)
Less popular by far than his teammate, Andre Robertson sits in only 12% of FPL teams. Such ownership is quite low given his overall score last season. His FPL points history tells a story of consistency. FPL players may be hesitant to double up on Liverpool defenders given the Champions’ display against Arsenal in the Community Shield. However, such field of vision is limited.
Robertson has been outstanding since the Project Restart. He was top of the league for big chances created, key passes during that period. Only Alexander-Arnold and Diego Rico took more corners than the Scottish international during that time. While he now has some sort of competition in new signing Tskimikas, he should be nailed for most of the season.
Matt Doherty (6.0)
Much to the disappointment of Wolves fans, Matt Doherty was sold to Spurs for £15 million. Questions have arisen amid concerns he will not exploit all his attacking potential at Spurs given Mourinho’s defensive system. However, this could be a biased perspective as Mourinho is likely to let the Irishman add an attacking flair to the team. Unlike Aurier, whose role Doherty is expected to occupy this upcoming season, the Irishman enjoys having the freedom to cut inside and create chances on his own.
Even though some of this freedom may be restricted at Spurs, his offensive threat is inherent to his unique style of play. He was top among all defenders for big chances created, shots inside the box and shots on target last season. Only Lundstram (he did not play as a real defender) and Trent Alexander Arnold had more goal attempts than the Irish international. While it will be difficult to keep up with such rate next season, his link with Kane is a promising one considering the latter is arguably one of the best finishers in the league if not in Europe.
Luke Ayling (4.5)
Going for defenders from newly-promoted teams may sound risky on paper, particularly when they face the reigning champions away from home in GW01. Other early fixtures include Manchester City and Wolves. In spite of such a challenging set of fixtures, there could be tons of value in both of their full backs. I’ve chosen Luke Ayling simply because I believe he is instrumental to Bielsa’s agressive pressing system which has helped them being so organised both offensively and defensively.
Leeds tend to struggle when they play without him. If Leeds United replicate their defensive exploits of last season (they were top for clean sheets in the Championship and the best defensive side in that division for the last 10 years), Ayling will be needed. He made 10 recoveries per game last season, which could be good in terms of bonus points. Even though they lost Ben White, who returned to his parent club (Brighton), Bielsa is a very tactical manager who will find a way to cope with his absence. Up front, Ayling is impressive too. He scored 4 goals and delivered 5 assists.
Michael Keane (5.0)
Something all of the above defenders have in common is that they are attacking minded. There’s a trend in FPL to load up on full backs who go forward a lot. While there are strong arguments to back up this belief, there could be some value in CBs. Keane sounds like a maverick pick if we consider Everton looked lackluster after Project Restart. More recently, Everton conceded 3 goals versus Blackpool (Keane was not a starter) in what was their first pre-season game.
Keane is, however, my differential pick for the FPL season. Is there any salient reason? Carlo Ancelotti can improve this side. They have just signed Allan from Napoli and they are likely to land Doucoure too, which will improve their defensive stats.
James Rodriguez could arrive very soon and it is because of these signings that Keane could stop being a boring pick. Only 7 players won more aerial duels last season and he’s one the players who could profit from Rodriguez’s delicious crosses from set pieces.
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