We are taking the opportunity of the international break to do a more in-depth update of our Watchlist.
Each option is ranked according to different factors to help managers work out their appeal for Fantasy Premier League.
We started off with the goalkeepers earlier this week, and now we’ve moved onto defenders.
Marcos Alonso (£6.8m) currently tops the defensive section of our Watchlist, which is no surprise given his form and fixtures. No player in the whole of FPL has more points than the Chelsea man thus far, who has registered a goal and five assists in the first four Gameweeks. Fantasy Football Scout members who read our analysis of Alonso earlier in the week will know that certain aspects of his form have the potential to be sustainable too. That is encouraging for the Spaniard as he prepares for favourable matches against Cardiff (home) and West Ham (away) up next.
Just behind Alonso is another of the triumvirate of premium left-backs in Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy (£6.4m). The Frenchman also has five assists to his name thus far, as well as returning points in every match of 2018/19. His presence in the final third is what has underpinned his distribution in the early part of the campaign, no defender receiving more passes in that area of the pitch than Mendy so far. Where he falls just below Alonso is potential for clean sheets. While City’s fixtures are a little kinder than Chelsea’s, the champions have conceded the same number of goals from half as many big chances.
Completing the trio of left-side full-backs is Andrew Robertson (£6.1m) who goes into Gameweek 5 also in top form. The Scottish international has collected three clean sheets, two assists and six bonus, the only defender with more additional points is Alonso. Robertson’s key strength is the amount of time he is spending in opposition penalty boxes; no defender has more than his 17 touches. His only detrimental factor is that of Unfavourable Fixtures, given that he faces Tottenham (away), Chelsea (away) and Manchester City (home) in the next four Gameweeks. Those three sides have combined for 30 goals scored since the start of the campaign.
Also carrying the Unfavourable Fixtures tag is Jose Holebas (£4.8m), but that doesn’t stop him from holding onto fourth place in our Watchlist. The Watford man has a goal and four assists in as many Gameweeks and is also the designated indirect free-kick and corner taker. The fact that he sits second for total score among defenders (34) despite keeping one clean sheet shows that he can continue to impress throughout a run of games that sees him face Manchester United (home) and Arsenal (away) between now and Gameweek 7. Crucially, an advantage he has over many of the in-vogue premium options is his price, although it is steadily on the rise.
Currently averaging 7.67 points per game, Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier (£6.0m) is also worthy of a high place on our Watchlist. Despite missing out on the opening match of the campaign, only four defenders have scored more FPL points than him so far. Trippier’s appeal in 2018/19 has improved considerably since being handed some of Christian Eriksen’s (£9.4m) set-piece duties, including direct free-kicks. His corners have placed him joint-top of the list for chances created when we filter the numbers to just Gameweeks 2, 3 and 4 – the ones in which he has played. The former Burnley man is also top of the pile for crosses into the box during that time as well. However, we have to warn potential suitors that Trippier does carry the Rotation Risk factor with a busy schedule coming up for Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino’s propensity to swap him in and out of the starting line-up with Serge Aurier (£5.9m).
One of the few promising defensive assets at Manchester United in the first four Gameweeks has been Luke Shaw (£5.1m). He has a goal, an assist and a clean sheet to his name and has been the only member of the Red Devils’ back-four to start every match. Crucially, only Alonso has had more efforts on goal than Shaw at this point, suggesting that if he can hold onto his place in the team (with Ashley Young also available) Shaw can become the best route into the Man United defence. After all, a first clean sheet in Gameweek 4 suggests some promise for upcoming home meetings with Wolves (Gameweek 6) and Newcastle (Gameweek 8). Considering the addition of goal threat to his shutout potential, he could soon provide better value than De Gea, who is currently £0.8m more expensive.
Shkodran Mustafi (£5.4m) has emerged as the primary route into Arsenal’s defence for their favourable run of fixtures. The German international delivered on his brewing goal threat in Gameweek 4 by netting in the Gunners’ 3-2 win at Cardiff. It’s a trip to Newcastle next before Everton and Watford come to the Emirates Stadium in Gameweeks 6 and 7 respectively. However, while we’ve handed a Favourable Fixtures factor to Mustafi, we can’t give him higher than a B for form as Unai Emery’s side are yet to keep a clean sheet in 2018/19.
Next up is Bournemouth’s Steve Cook (£4.6m). The centre-back has already earned one price rise this season after his 14-point haul in Gameweek 2 but has the potential to continue his form. Bournemouth have favourable fixtures from a defensive perspective with Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Southampton all set to visit the Vitality Stadium between now and Gameweek 9. Furthermore, a trip to out-of-form Burnley in Gameweek 6 also looks kind for the Cherries too. Cook also carries some goal threat a well as his Potential Bargain factor.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.1m) has fallen down the Watchlist somewhat in recent weeks but still deserves to remain in the conversation. Firstly, the Crystal Palace defender has held onto his Potential Bargain tag given that he has earned just one price rise in 2018/19. Secondly, the Eagles still have a kind run of fixtures which sees them travel to Huddersfield in Gameweek 5 and host Newcastle in Gameweek 6.
We have changed our chosen Leicester defender from Ricardo Pereira (£5.1m) to Ben Chilwell (£5.0m). While the former is currently ahead on assists (two to zero) and total score (19 to 12), we believe that Chilwell has the potential to outperform his new colleague in the coming weeks. Analysis in the Members Area shows that Chilwell has played more successful passes in the final third than Pereira and his heat map shows he is spending more time in there too. All that despite the fact that right-back Pereira has been deployed in midfield twice this season. In either case, there is potential for clean sheets for Leicester assets with a factor of Favourable Fixtures attached to them.
Completing the list is budget man Ryan Bennett (£4.0m). Fantasy managers may wish to incorporate Wolves cover into their defensive rotation over the next six Gameweeks and he looks the most appropriate. The reigning Championship winners have home matches against Burnley and Southampton coming up as well as trips to Crystal Palace and Brighton. Crucially, they have allowed the same number of big chances as Manchester City so far in 2018/19; only Liverpool and Bournemouth have conceded fewer.
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