This season the second team I have entered in the fantasy game will feature five defenders all season long, as my strategy is not to deviate from that formation. Obviously, there could be weeks in which a defender is benched and an bench player is auto substituted in. The league sees four team starting on a buy (MCI/MUN/BUR/AVL), which throws a bit of a curve into my plans, not wanting to waste a transfer on a defender. That means my starting defense could potentially change during each of the first three weeks. Not how I planned it, but FPL managers need to remain flexible and patient.
The key to this 5-man defense is spending big at the back while maximizing value in the midfield and budgeting conservatively up top. This strategy seems to go against just about everything when it comes to FPL. Managers rarely play five defenders, if they do it’s because of an auto substitution or maybe FDR is favorable, but regardless there is a considerable amount of luck required. This will be the first season this strategy is used and I am hopefully it will turn being competitive. Based on my preparation, a key to this strategy is holding defenders for the season, which isn’t always easy to do. I keep asking myself why I came off Liverpool and Man City defenders last season. The two most prolific defensive teams in the league the last three years.
Excited to get Hugo Lloris (TOT/£5.5) into the starting XI, but not happy with his price tag. Coming off an injury plagued season, I feel he should have been £0.5 cheaper. That said, his statistics over the last three years are excellent, as he fits into my squad with his VAPM, even though he hasn’t played 2000 minutes the last few years. Willing to roll the dice with the Frenchman, who seems to be flying under the radar, just 5.3% owned.
At one point in my planning I had Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV/£7.5) and Andrew Robertson (LIV/£7.0). Since Manchester City starts with a bye and Liverpool host newly promoted Leeds United, I thought, why not? I head into GW1 with treble Liverpool, as I added Virgil van Dijk (LIV/£6.5) to my staring back line. I know, all we need to do is flashback to GW1 last season and 64′ Teemu Pukki goal wiped out any clean sheet chance. Still I feel its one of the best chances for a CS to start the season.
Prior to Matt Doherty (TOT/£6.0) moving from Wolves, I had planned on having the attack defender as a mainstay in my starting XI. I do have some concern on how Jose will use him and if he will free reign to attack down the flank. Hugo Lloris is back in goal, which is a big boost for a defense that under performed last season and feel the Doherty moves helps solidify that defense.
That leaves one spot remaining, which was supposed to be Aymeric Laporte, the key to the Manchester City defense. Unfortunately, he might not be available and with City experiencing a GW1 bye, this might be a good thing. Unfortunately, I am torn on what direction to go with my fifth defender. I had planned on Ben Chilwell at Chelsea, but a foot injury will see him miss GW1, I have slid over to Caesar Azpilicueta (CHE/£6.0) but Chelsea ‘3’ on their jersey should look more like a question mark. Not sure how this team will get on with all the new players coming into the sqaud. Then, Kepa Arrizabalaga still their goalkeeper, which doesn’t sit well with me but seem to have a good match up at The Amex against Brighton. Other considerations, a Leicester City defender, Ricardo Pereira would be my choice, but he is flagged.
The midfield will be were the most chopping and changing will take place this season. Starting with Allan Saint-Maximin (NEW/£5.5), who could easily become a number of different players at that price. For the first two weeks, the Newcastle midfielder will get the start. Since we are talking bench players, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (FUL/£4.5) will find a place in my 15-man squad with no intent on playing him.
The bulk of my budget has been spent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS/£12.0), Bruno Fernandes (MUN/£10.5) and James Rodriguez (EVE/£7.5). Through much of my planning Aubameyang hasn’t been on my short list, as I piled money into the forward line, but Harry Kane has me concerned with Europa League and domestic cups, so I decided a safer bet would be bulking up the midfield. The Arsenal midfielder will get at least two weeks, being reclassified should have him post more points than last season, which is a plus but I might move him for Mo Salah ahead of GW3.
Fernandes and Rodriguez are both interesting picks and could rival KDB for assists this season. Fernandes was instrumental in the rebirth at Old Trafford for the Red Devils. Returns in 11 of 14 games last season…a bit unsustainable, but he seemed to be key to their late season success. Rodriguez has posted some great numbers at Real Madrid and on loan at Bayern Munich and comes to the Premier League at a steal of price. How he fits into the Everton offense, not quite sure, but he is reunited with Carlo Ancelotti to help revive his career and has some good players around him.
Up front will usually feature two forwards, as it does to start the season with Aleksandar Mitrović (FUL/£6.0) and Callum Wilson (£6.5). Wilson appears to have a plethora of midfielders will to feed him the ball and this is the first time in a few years Newcastle has a forward who can finish. He faces a very poor WHU team in GW1. As for Mitro, I wasn’t expecting to dive in on any promoted players, but he’s too important to Fulham and at his price, a steal to start the season. Much of the Cottagers attack will flow through the big Serbian. Keinan Davis (AVL/£4.5) is the non-playing third forward. There will be options up front, as I’ve kept £0.5 ITB, meaning I could move to Dominick Calvert-Lewin or Chris Wood, both players I am watching closely.
This team will feel more complete when I add the City defender(s) into the starting XI. It might be cause to double up with Manchester City in the back and not consider KDB. As I said in the write up, there are options, but the key to make this work is to stay on a set group of defenders who have a proven VAPM (read this 6-part series). Time will tell how this 5-man defensive strategy will work out.
I am keeping expectations in check, but I would like to think I could finish in the top 100k going big at the back. The defenders are the key, if Liverpool and City combine for 32 clean sheet like they did in 2019/20 that would be 316 points to start for the defense. That’s 79 cleans at 4 points a piece before you start adding in appearance points, attacking returns or bonus points. Can’t wait to keep this Think Different series alive all season. Good luck with your team!