Much like watching Premier League players hit for attacking returns one week, then go dark the next, so goes my 5-man defensive team. On the back of a disappointing GW1 score of 47 points, it was difficult to look over my team, especially not owning the man the hot foot in GW1. Now GW2, we see Spurs, Everton and Leicester City get business done convincingly. Yet I owned just two players from those teams. Thankfully, 61 points was just enough to get me over the hump and pull off a small green arrow, up just 150k, but still nearly at 3 million OR. It’s early, but there is no way I am going to turn tail and give up on my 5-man defense.
This is the continuing, season long series, Think Different that discusses thoughts, moves and strategy when forcing your team into a “big at the back” formation. Through two weeks it’s been challenging, but felt good to pick up an early green arrow on the back of Liverpool posting a clean sheet, 2-0 over Chelsea. That will need to be a common theme this season, especially if I stay with treble Reds defense but that will leave a midfield void of Mo Salah. Depending on what side of the debate you fall on, this could help or hinder my climb up the OR this season.
5-MAN DEFENSE GW2
As I sit looking back on GW2 I am convinced there are other midfielders and forwards to shuffle around to make up for a team potentially not having Salah. Risky? Sure, but that can be said about nearly every premium in the game who could potentially haul 25-30 goals a season while being a regular captain shout. While I haven’t done any research on the previous Liverpool seasons, investigating how treble Pool defense scored in comparison to Salah. Clean sheets are the key, at six points a piece, awarding me 18 points before any attacking returns of bonus points. Over the last two seasons this group has scored a combination of 74 attacking return between goals and assists along with 134 bonus points! Numbers don’t lie and I have no doubt this trio will post similar numbers for Liverpool this season. Any reason to think differently?
Matt Doherty was nailed in my squad when playing at Molineux, now at Spurs, there is some question as to how Jose Mourniho will use this attacking wing back. Spurs defense recorded just eight clean sheets last season. Hugo Lloris is now heathly and the addition of Sergio Reguilon should improve that number, coming off a 13 CS season while at Sevilla in La Liga. Just two weeks in, Spurs have a modest FDR through GW8 before their festive period gets challenging. Doherty, just two point, as they conceded a goal to Raul Jimenez.
Unfortunately, Luca Digne was knee jerk selection ahead of GW2, transferring him in after a 12-point GW1, facing West Brom at Goodison Park. The match up was there for Everton, who conceded twice in their 5-2 win and Digne was probably unlucky to walk away with no points, as he could of had an assist and goal. He’s shown some excellent movement, shot selection and has played well, unfortunately, Jordan Pickford makes that defense a real liability. Digne isn’t in my team because of Everton’s defense, but his attacking potential He might need to score in order to be a viable VAPM defending option. Everton might need to score 3-5 goals a game to win, because I don’t see their defense winning many games.
Going with an premium midfield means its unlikely to own the likes of multiple 12 million players. Going treble Liverpool leaves Salah out of the equation, but started Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, James Rodriguez and Bruno Fernandes, who started on the bench with United having a bye in GW1. The Arsenal midfielder grabbed the captain’s armband, but Rodriguez was big performer, backing his play with 12 points for Everton. He looks the real deal under Carlo Ancelotti with the likes of DCL and Richarlison around him. Aubameyang picked up 10 points with a single assist, but isn’t long for my squad, as Arsenal his a difficult run through GW8 and the funds will be better spent on a different midfielder. There is some thought to hold Fernandes through GW3, as we have seen in the first few weeks, those star players who stumbles in GW1 seemed to come good the following week. Does United have enough to win at The Amex and the Brighton defense? They do, but the Red Devils didn’t look good in GW2. Bruno at 10.5 could be spent elsewhere, even though we know what he brings to that Untied midfield who still has some viable attackers going forward.
The forward pairing of Callum Wilson and Aleksandr Mitrovic remained unchanged for GW2, but it was the Fulham forward who returned, while Newcastle struggled in a 3-0 loss to Brighton. Mitro was brought in for one reason, Fulham need this man on the pitch to score goals and their FDR is strong through GW9. Wilson was a last minute change ahead of the season, when he transferred to Newcastle, but now the Magpies hit a difficult stretch through the end of October and his days are numbered as a starting forward. There are a few forwards under consideration including Jimenez, Wood and either Richarlison or Calvert-Lewin. Based on two weeks the Everton pair have played well, but feel they might run into a tough fixture at Palace this weekend and it is putting me off bringing another Toffee into my squad.
I LIKE TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT
After their bye in GW1, Manchester City appears to have picked up, where they left off. Scoring. When looking at their defense we are still waiting on the flagged, Aymeric Laporte to be cleared to be play after testing positive for COVID. He is not currently listed on Premier Injuries but shows a 50% chance of playing, due to lack of match fitness. City need him in their starting XI to make this defense stronger. He is one of two City defenders I am considering. The “safe” play would be Nathan Ake with Laporte (when fit). He averages a few goals and assists each year but now on a much stronger team than his former employer, Bournemouth. I continue to look at Kyle Walker, not really flashy any longer, but will post 2700-2800 minutes each season and pick up 12-15 clean sheets with 4-6 assists.
Looking at potential voids with Aubameyang and Fernandes, but in fairness to United I might stick with him one more week. Talking to FPL_Shark, he believes they are “3 weeks off the pace…wouldn’t touch them until mid October.” Seems to be sound advice from a supporter. Built around KDB and Rodriguez, there is only one I am looking at, Mo Salah. I feel he has looked the stronger of the two between him and Mane and I feel he is must own, at least my squad. If he becomes an option, then one of the three defenders must magically turn into a City player.
Up front, I’ve said Mitrovic is remaining in my team, I feel he has the ability to score two goals every week for a bad Fulham team that still doesn’t know how to defend in the Premier League. After Burnley’s GW1 bye, I knew I should have gone in on Chris Wood, but gave Wilson another week. Rest assured the Burnley forward will be in my GW3. With his recent success, DCL is also on my watchlist, but think I will give him a pass this week at Palace, just have a feeling he crashes back down, which might cause managers to move off the Everton forward.