Premier League football returns eight days after the World Cup final. Let’s see what is in store for this season’s best FPL defenders.
All teams have played either 14 or 15 matches so far. The main stories are Arsenal’s five-point lead, Newcastle thrusting themselves into Champions League contention and the declining relationship between Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United.
Meanwhile, Fulham are up in ninth, West Ham are sliding towards the bottom and Roberto De Zerbi replaced Chelsea’s Graham Potter as Brighton boss.
In FPL, Kieran Trippier (£5.9m) is far ahead of all other defenders with 96 points. Arsenal names are second and third, whilst previously-essential Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) has only twice exceeded three points.
When looking at the best team defences, Arsenal, Newcastle and Manchester City dominate. The first two have collected seven clean sheets, with Pep Guardiola’s side joined on six by Leicester.
Using Fantasy Football Scout’s Members Area, we can see which teams have conceded the fewest goals, shots and expected goals (xGC).
Of course, not all have played the same number of matches – Newcastle have appeared twice more than Brighton, for example.
Scout’s ‘Season Ticker’ allows you to not only rank fixture runs by difficulty but focus solely on defence or attack. So this is what shows up when ordering the next eight matches by defensive difficulty:
Here, the red boxes highlight the best back lines up to this point. The ticker believes that Brighton and both Manchester sides hit the sweet spot of having both a decent defence and mostly good fixtures.
BEST FPL DEFENDERS
Unlimited free transfers can be made during this World Cup break, representing a great chance to nail down a long-term defence.
Those impatient at Joao Cancelo‘s (£7.4m) recent form may want to rethink any plans to get rid, although Pep Roulette makes any double-up tricky.
Arsenal have kept four clean sheets from five, so it’s worth persisting with their assets regardless of the fixture. Especially with such a cheap Ben White (£4.7m), whereas it should be noted that both Gabriel (£5.2m) and William Saliba (£5.3m) have bagged two goals.
Perhaps the ticker is harsh on Newcastle. Their only big obstacle between Gameweeks 17 and 23 is a trip to the Gunners, surrounded by more attractive matches. As 92.9% of the top 100k own Trippier and 28.8% have goalkeeper Nick Pope (£5.3m), protecting your rank might require two Magpies. Someone like Sven Botman (£4.4m) could appeal.
It may be a surprise seeing Brighton have such good underlying stats, considering no clean sheet has been kept from Gameweek 5 onwards. Affordable names such as Lewis Dunk (£4.7m), Adam Webster (£4.5m) and, behind them, Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) are now on the radar.
Elsewhere, Man United had been improving until the Aston Villa hiccup. Yet it’s hard to ignore them at resumption, with Nottingham Forest (H), Wolves (a) and Bournemouth (H) first up. Attacking full-back Diogo Dalot (£4.8m) has served his suspension and only two defenders have created more chances.
Centre-back Lisandro Martinez (£4.5m) and stopper David De Gea (£4.9m) could also be handy selections.
Other names to consider include Southampton’s Romain Perraud (£4.4m), West Ham centre-back Kurt Zouma (£4.5m) and one of Liverpool’s regulars. As the cheapest starting goalkeeper, simply playing matches makes Danny Ward (£4.1m) an essential asset, never mind collecting six clean sheets from eight!