So having already taken a look at some keepers who we think will do well in this seasons FPL it is now time for us to turn our attentions to the defenders. Obviously no matter what formation we all plan on using we still need to pick 5 defenders, and choosing the right ones can be crucial to our fantasy team’s overall performance.
One of the main questions FPL managers ask is what strategy to follow when choosing your defence, do you go for a cheap defence so as to spend heavy elsewhere or do you go for a number of the heavy hitters at the back. Given Fantasy Football Cheat have already released a detailed article discussing the ‘Principals of Fantasy Team Selection’, we do not intend to go over this ground again. However, we will bring you a quote from that article as we believe it is salient advice and worth having at the front of your mind when considering your fantasy defence.
It’s a long running FPL debate but most pundits now accept that you get more bang for your buck from attacking players. The best realistic day in the office for a defender is 6 points. Sure, there are some defenders who score goals from time to time but you can’t ever expect them to do so. By contrast, a good realistic performance for a striker or an attacking midfielder could easily be 10 points or more. For that reason, you aren’t going to be winning your league by spending heavily on big name defenders at big name clubs. By all means have a couple but the key to success is to be sparing in defence and invest resources in a couple of marquee players in midfield and attack. Looking back over recent seasons, there have been certain “must have” players. Ronaldo, Drogba, Rooney and RVP have all been that player in that they have regularly produced 13 point games and, sometimes, as many as 20 points in a game. Defenders just don’t offer that upside.”
As you can see, one or two marquee defenders is ok, but generally you don’t want to go crazy by splashing the majority of your £100m budget at the back. With that in mind we will focus our attentions on bringing you some defensive tips from across the price spectrum.
It’s probably safe to say that Vincent Kompany was the standout defender in last season’s Premier League so it should come as no surprise to you that he is the first defender we are tipping this season. While some will highlight the fact that Patrice Evra scored more points than Kompany it should be noted that Evra started 6 more games than the Man City defender. Given the fact that City kept 18 clean sheets last season many FPL mangers will want to get some City representation into their defence and when you consider Bobby Mancini’s rotation policy, Kompany is without doubt the safest bet. Joleon Lescott is certainly a cheaper route into the City defence however with City seemingly interested in bringing in another centre half, is Lescott going to be a nailed on starter this season? That said Mancini has been playing with 3 at the back in many of their pre-season friendlies, and if that happens then you would expect Lescott to feature in the vast majority of games.
Some of you may have noticed that in our feature on keepers we did not mention David De Gea. Whilst rotation risk between De Gea and Lindegaard was a factor, so too was the fact that we were unsure as to the fitness of many of United’s defenders! However United’s recent friendly against Barcelona saw the return of their man mountain Nemanja Vidic to the centre of their defence and unsurprisingly, the giant Serb is our next tip. Last season Vidic only started 6 games for United before picking up a season ending cruciate knee ligament injury but he still managed to pick up 4 clean sheets which was 1 more than Norwich kept in the entire season. However for proof that Vidic is worth his £7.0m price tag just take a look at his stats from the previous season - 14 clean sheets, 5 goals and 1 assist saw him amass a total of 148 points.
Assou-Ekotto, Walker & Vertonghen
Last season saw Spurs keep 14 clean sheets, a statistic that even the most ardent of Spurs fans are still trying to come to terms with! As a result of these clean sheets Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker were both placed among the top 5 scoring defenders in last season’s FPL. Both Assou-Ekotto and Walker found themselves on the score sheet twice, while Assou-Ekotto picked up 5 assists as compared to Walkers 1. Given Assou-Ekotto’s better assist record, we suspect many FPL managers will opt for him over Walker.
In looking at the Spurs back-line, it is also worth noting that there is one new name at White Hart Lane that we also recommend you keep an eye out for, and that is Jan Vertonghen. An attack minded defender, last season Vertonghen scored 8 goals from 31 league appearances for former club Ajax. Like Assou-Ekotto and Walker, Vertonghen is also priced at £6.5m and is another option worth consideration.
Having mentioned these three Spurs defenders, it is also worth quickly mentioning Villas-Boas. Obviously Spurs have changed their manager and many will argue that Chelsea were not noted for their solidity under Villas-Boas, but we will for now give both him and Spurs the benefit of the doubt and assume that once again Spurs will be a tough nut to crack. It should also be noted that following their season opener against Newcastle, Spurs have a run of 4 games in which they have a great chance of keeping a number of clean sheets.
Clearly life would be too easy if we were in a position to pack our defences with expensive defenders (of course you can but, as noted earlier, other areas of your team are bound to suffer!), so we must look to cheaper defenders who will hopefully pick up some clean sheets as the weeks pass. The first of these so called cheaper defenders we are going to tip this season is Ashley Williams of Swansea. Swansea were without doubt the surprise package of last season and while it was their passing game that caught the eye, they were also a tight knit unit at the back. Williams played a central role in the Swans defence and claimed 13 clean sheets, 1 goal and 2 assists. Obviously a change of manager can mean a change of style but Michael Laudrup appears to have the same approach to football as his predecessor and when you take into account Swansea’s opening run of fixtures we feel that Swansea and Williams are good for a number of clean sheets in the early part of the season.
Fulham didn’t set the world alight last season but they still managed to keep 11 clean sheets which isn’t stunning by any means of the imagination, but when you consider that Brede Hangeland’s valuation has dropped by £1.0m to £5.0m things become somewhat interesting. While Hangeland didn’t notch any goals or assists last season it should be noted that he scored 6 the season before, so he’s certainly a centre half who knows where the goal is. Apart from a trip to Old Trafford in gameweek 2, Fulham have a number of fixtures in the opening number of weeks in which we feel they stand a good chance of picking up some clean sheets and therefore at £5.0m we feel that Hangeland represents good value.
There is always a possibility of picking up a bargain from the promoted clubs and this season is no different. Our first defensive tip from the promoted clubs is Alex Pearce of Reading. Pearce was part of a Reading defensive unit which kept 20 clean sheets in last season’s Championship and he also notched 5 goals. Obviously there are no guarantees that Reading will be as defensively sound in the Premiership but at £4.5m we feel that he represents good value if you’re looking for a cheap 5th defender.
Of course West Ham were also promoted last season and in the process they kept 17 clean sheets. Teams managed by Big Sam are typically difficult to break down and we would not be at all surprised if this was the case with West Ham in the coming season. With this in mind our tip from the West Ham defence is George McCartney who made 36 appearances for the Hammers last season and was named player’s player of the season.
For those of you who are reluctant to take a chance on any of the promoted sides we’ll leave you with 2 more cheap defenders. Martin O’Neill sides have historically started the season well, and are usually pretty tight at the back in the early part of the season, so at £4.5m we feel that Carlos Cuellar represents good value for money.
Finally how about Ciaran Clark at Aston Villa? Yes Villa had a very poor season last year and conceded 50 goals in the process but Villa fans are hoping that Paul Lambert will turn things around. Villa have performed quite well at underage levels over the past few seasons and their squad is littered with talented youngster but it’s Clark, valued at £4.5m, who we’re tipping for now. With Richard Dunne missing for the first 4-5 weeks due to injury we assume that Clark will partner new signing Ron Vlaar at the centre of Villa’s defence.
Ok so that’s the Defenders dealt with, hopefully we’ve given you some interesting options to ponder over. Having already released our Goalkeeper tips article, that leaves Midfielders and Forwards to come, which will follow over the coming days…
This article was written by Kop Warrior