The first defender to make it into our Team of the Season is Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.8m).
The 20-year-old right-back set a new Premier League record for assists by a defender in 2018/19, registering thirteen.
That helped him on his way to finishing the campaign as the third highest points-scoring defender in the game behind his Liverpool teammates Andrew Robertson (£6.7m) and Virgil van Dijk (£6.7m).
Alexander-Arnold came out on top in our end-of-season poll for Defender’s of the Year, getting 25.25% of the vote. He just about pipped team-mate Robertson (24.92%) just like he did in the race for most assists this season.
|Player||Number of votes||Share of vote|
|Virgil van Dijk||370||9.63%|
Looking at the numbers for his season, it really is no surprise that Alexander-Arnold has topped our poll.
Despite missing nine league matches, he racked up a total of 185 points over the course of the campaign, eight more than Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) who played 596 more minutes than the Englishman.
How many points would he have scored had he been fully fit for the entire season?
Alexander-Arnold averaged 6.4 points per game, which would have seen him score a whopping 243 points had he played in every Gameweek. Robertson’s new record for a defender (213) would have been blown out of the water.
On top of his 13 assists, Alexander-Arnold was on the pitch for 16 of Liverpool’s 21 clean sheets. He scored just one goal but made up for it in bonus points, accumulating 25 – only Robertson (29) finished the season with more among defenders.
Alexander-Arnold ranked third for crosses among defenders with a total of 201 behind Everton’s Lucas Digne (£5.4m) and Watford’s Jose Holebas (£4.8m).
In terms of expected assists (xA) for the season, the England international ranked number one among defenders with a figure of 6.60.
The first three matches of the 2018/19 season were frustrating for Alexander-Arnold owners. He got three clean sheets but also got booked in all three which meant he missed out on bonus points, while Robertson was hoovering them up for his Fantasy supporters.
Amazingly, by Gameweek 27, he had registered just three assists, then came his best performance of the season, providing three of them in the 5-0 win over Watford in Gameweek 28.
Naturally, Alexander-Arnold picked up all three bonus points in that match for a total of 18 points, one of his nine double-digit hauls.
Injury disrupted his season a few times, particularly in the middle part of the campaign. From Gameweek’s 15 to 27, he completed ninety minutes on just four occasions, registering just one assist during that period.
This section of the campaign was also plagued with some uncertainty over the extent of Alexander-Arnold’s injury, with media reporting he was out for a lot longer than Jurgen Klopp later indicated.
This led to a tricky spell for his owners as many sold him thinking he would be out for longer than he eventually was.
However, Alexander-Arnold finished the season very strongly scoring 54 points in the last five matches. That was underpinned by six assists, four clean sheets and 11 bonus points.
Let’s hope he can carry that end-of-season form into the opening weeks of next season.
Priced at just £5.0m in Gameweek 1, Alexander-Arnold was a popular pick amongst FPL managers. He was in 787,168 teams when Liverpool faced West Ham in their opening game.
His habit of collecting yellow cards in those first few games would have put quite a few people off investing in him at that point.
Despite that, the youngster’s ownership figures crossed the one million mark for the first time in Gameweek 7 after he registered his first assist of 2018/19 in the 3-0 win over Southampton in the previous Gameweek.
After picking up an injury against Burnley in Gameweek 15, Alexander-Arnold was sold by almost 750,000 managers between Gameweek’s 17 and 19.
His ownership was at it’s lowest in Gameweek 26 (782,481), just below his Gameweek 1 figure of 787,168.
Once he got the three assists against Watford in Gameweek 28, his ownership and price rose steadily for the rest of the season. From Gameweek’s 28 to 38, his price jumped from £5.2m to £5.8m.
Alexander-Arnold finished the season as the third most-owned defender in the game with an ownership percentage of 26.9%, behind teammates van Dijk (32.3%) and Robertson (33%).
Given his heroics this season, Alexander-Arnold is set to get a significant price rise ahead of next season.
We can expect to see him priced at £6.5m or possibly even £7.0m. It will be very interesting to see if they price both full backs the same or if Alexander-Arnold will be £0.5m less than the more ‘nailed-on’ Robertson.
With Joe Gomez (£4.8m) fit again, will we see him competing with Alexander-Arnold for the right-back berth or will he be van Dijk’s partner in central defence?
The hope for us Fantasy managers is that Klopp uses Gomez at centre-back and continues with Alexander-Arnold as the first choice at right-back.
That said, there could be even more competition at centre-back next season if reports of Liverpool’s interest in Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt hold truth.
One thing is for sure though, Alexander-Arnold is going to be a very popular pick again for Gameweek 1 next season, regardless of what his price is.
He is the ideal Fantasy defender, he can score goals, racks up assists, takes corners and some set pieces and plays in the best defence in the league who keep lots of clean sheets.
The only worry is his fitness which plagued him in 2018/19. Hopefully, a summer with no major tournament to worry about will give him the chance to rest up and come back fitter than ever before for the new year.
If he can avoid injury next season, he will have his sights set on breaking Robertson’s record.