Monday, 18 July 2016

Defenders and Clean Sheets

Defenders are an important part of FPL.  Don't underestimate them.  In fact, over the last decade, defenders have scored around 24% of the total points scored. Which is nearly as much as forwards who scored an average of almost 27%.  Thus, defenders are valuable and need to be looked at thoroughly like forwards.

When picking your defenders you will need a few budget players to help you afford the premium ones. A good way to find cheap players is to look at the newly promoted teams.

All 3 teams secured at least 20 clean sheets out of a possible 46.  At a glance the most appealing two seem to be Burnley and Middlesbrough, due to their upcoming fixtures and home games.

There are also your proven defender assets to go along with and it is also key to look at FORM and ATTACKING returns. Also keep in mind FIXTURES as they can help you plan your team for the long run.

Middlesbrough

Claiming 22 clean sheets last season, they seem to be the best pick out of the teams coming up. 15 came at home making the Riverside Stadium a fortress. They conceded a total of 31 goals all season and only 8 at home and conceded a goal almost every 2 games.  With their first 4 games being (STO/sun/wba/CPL) they look a very good pick considering many will be priced at 4.5M and with the signing of ex-Barcelona keeper Valdes. Friend looks a good option at left back and created a lot of chances last season.

Burnley

The Clarets secured 20 clean sheets last season only losing once at home. They have 3 home games in their first 4 games (SWA/LIV/che/HUL/lei). They Come up against tougher opponents and will be looking to keep it tight also with some easier ones clean sheets look a good possibility. As long with the clean sheet chances, former Manchester united player Michael Keane scored 5 goals and looks to be a set piece threat. He has already scored in pre season and looks like a good option. Tom Heaton earned an England call up after his performances last season. He could rack up the save points this season like Gomes did last year and he could be a perfect second keeper.

WBA

Under Tony Pulis West Brom have picked up 11 clean sheets last season. Unlike most teams they picked up most on the road with 6. They have a very good set of fixtures (cpl/EVE/MID/bou/WHM/stk) and being home or away isn’t a big concern for The Baggies. Craig Dawson proved to be a good asset at 5.0 scoring 4 goals and averaging 1 shot a game last season and should continue where he left off.

Manchester United

Now with Mourinho and his infamous "park the bus" play, they could become essential if they can get their tactics right. They have signed Bailly who will look to partner Smalling along with Shaw at left back, the right back spot could be up for grabs. With Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger or whoever will start in the CDM(s) role(s) will help solidify the defence and finish off the game. United look a good option with fixtures of (bou/SOU/hul/MCI/wat) and there could be attacking returns from the likes of Shaw who might be lowly priced after his early end to last season. De Gea also will be a popular pick from last season but may cost a fair bit.

Chelsea

After leaving the Italian national team and racking up 3 clean sheets out of 5 games at the Euro’s, Conte arrives at Stamford Bridge hoping to improve their fortunes immediately. With the new signing of N’Golo Kante after a stellar season at Leicester, Chelsea’s rearguard seems to be getting stronger and stronger.  They also have no Champions League distractions to worry about. With a possibility of Matic and Kante in front of the Chelsea back line and the fixtures of (WHM/wat/BUR/swa/LIV) Azpilicueta or Courtois are looking the best options. I think it’s worth taking the gamble to see if Conte can match his defensive structure like he did at Italy.

Manchester City

Man City’s defence was a bit of a liability last season. Now under Pep Guardiola City’s fullbacks could be a good option as he likes to use them in a very attacking way such as the likes of Jordi Alba and David at Alaba at Barcelona and Bayern. However City’s fullbacks were rotated heavily last season. If these spots become nailed down there could be great chances created such as the like of Moreno and Bellerin had last season. If Kompany can stay fit and if they can land a signing like Bonucci along with the fixtures of (SUN/stk/WHM/mun/BOU/swa) a City defender could come under consideration and become a viable pick.

Everton

Last season we found discovered that form was more important than fixtures.  This may not strictly be the case again.  Under new manager Ronald Koeman and a cracking set of fixtures (TOT/wba/STK/sun/MID/bou) there could be some bargains from their back line.  Koeman kept 12 clean sheets last season at Southampton and the likes of Baines could be a great option if he can nail the penalty taking duties and recover his form of 2 seasons ago. He also could be under priced after last seasons mediocre performance.

You should hopefully be in good stead before your wildcard (unless you use it early) with a back line of 2 or 3 premium defenders, 1 or 2 mid priced defenders and 3 or 4 budget defenders.

Premium 2/3 = MNU/CHE/MCI/TOT
Mid-priced 1/2 = EVE/SWA/SOT
Budget 3/4 = MID/BUR/WBA/CRY

Thanks for taking the time to read my article. Best of luck to the upcoming season and may your arrows be green!

Written by: Junior
Finished 3.3k during the 2015/2016 season

You can find me on Twitter @FPL_Junior