With the goalkeepers out of the way with our strategy article and budget rotation post, it’s onto the next step and that’s the backline! With 5 spots up for grabs, there’s various decisions to make, decisions that could mean the difference between an average start and a start that leaves your mates eating your dust.
There’s little disputing the fact that the defenders let us down for the first half of last season. It seemed as though managers had forgotten how to set their defences up and thrown caution to the wind in the name of attacking prowess. It led to some amazing matches chocked full of goals but it didn’t help us one bit with our backlines. The top sides could not be relied upon for clean sheets and it’s hard to say whether they can be for the new season.
The one saving grace is the performance of some sides in the second half of the season with both Manchester clubs deserving honourable mentions. In the end, Man City finished top of the clean sheet table, preventing the opposition from scoring on 18 different occasions.
New Names At The Top
Despite most backlines at the top of the table remaining very much the same, with Mourinho, Moyes and Pellegrini stepping in, it adds a little mystery trying to guess where their defensive loyalties lie. Mourinho should set his teams up as hard to beat, meaning clean sheets should appear now and again. Moyes will also be keen on having a strong backline but their goal is sure to be tested by Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in the first 5 matches.
It has been mentioned on more than one occasion that Pellegrini has been selected for his attacking ambitions but his defensive strategical ability should not be dismissed. Malaga kept 13 clean sheets last season on their way to achieving 6th place in La Liga. In addition, out of their 5 home games in their Champions League run to the Quarter Finals, they only conceded in one of those matches, holding Porto and Dortmund in the knockout stages.
Where’s The Security and Value?
With City facing two of the promoted sides in their first 3 matches, Pellegrini will be targeting a strong start to life in the Premier League. With this in mind, there are 3 clear options in the City backline. Captain Kompany comes in at 6.5m and is the most guaranteed to start. Next up we have the two full backs, Zabaleta and Clichy who are both a reasonable 6m. Richards is likely to push for gametime as the season progresses but the ever-reliable Zabaleta should get the nod to begin with, whilst Kolarov looks set for a move before the window closes.
Tottenham are another team who are set to tackle two of the promoted sides, taking on Crystal Palace and Cardiff in their first 5 games. There’s value to be had whilst Vertonghen is out injured with Dawson priced at 5m and another centre back due to be signed following Caulker’s move to Cardiff. In the full-back positions, we have Walker (6m) and Assou-Ekotto (5.5m). Walker is more likely to offer the greater attacking threat to justify his higher pricetag and Assou-Ekotto could face competition from Vertonghen, depending on the performance of Dawson and Caulker in the central roles.
With Chelsea kicking things off with a double gameweek against Hull and Villa, there are some points up for grabs. It remains to be seen who will fill the backline for Mourinho with the only safe option being Cole (6.5m) at left back. His attacking prowess seems to have simmered a little as age is starting to catch up with him but Mourinho still has a lot of faith in Cole and he is sure to start.
The Best of The Reds
The exact opposite can be said of Arsenal, where the left back position is to be contested between Gibbs and Monreal. However, there’s definitely some value to be had with all of their defenders coming in at 5.5m. That leaves you to choose between Koscielny, Mertesacker and Sagna. We would recommend one of the centre backs, unless Sagna puts last season’s poor performance behind him and shows signs of promise in pre-season.
The defenders are a bit pricier over at Liverpool with their guaranteed starters of Agger, Enrique and Johnson all priced at 6m. Skrtel (5.5m) and Toure (5m) are left to fight it out for the final centre back spot but whoever secures it will be a cheaper option, with Toure being of particular value at the low price of 5m.
We’ve decided to leave out analysis of United‘s defence due to their rocky start to the Fantasy Premier League season. Sure Moyes will look to keep it tight against the difficult opposition he will come up against but clean sheets are far from guaranteed and due to the cost, we feel your money can be better utilised elsewhere.
In our next article, we’ll be looking at mid-range and budget options in defence, including what rotational wonders are out there, with a particular focus on the first set of gameweeks. So make sure you don’t miss out on our fantasy football tips, news and advice by returning soon or joining us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. By joining any of our social media channels you’ll be automatically entered into a monthly draw to WIN a detailed analysis of your fantasy premier league squad. Roll on, roll up, it’s time to get addicted once more!
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