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Is now the time to invest in Southampton’s FPL defensive assets?

If someone had told us back in October that we’d be talking up Southampton defensive assets by January, we would have assumed you were joking.

But here we are, nonetheless, on the verge of considering Saints defenders for our Fantasy Premier League teams.

Several months after the heaviest home defeat in their history, and the worst defensive showing this author has seen on any football pitch at any level, Ralph Hasenhüttl has completely transformed Southampton in one of the most impressive turnarounds we’ve seen in recent years.

With price depreciation naturally occurring across the Saints squad so far, Fantasy managers are now taking a look at the options available in Hampshire with great interest.

We have taken a closer look at their recent form to see if they truly are worth investing in.

As this article uses data from the Fantasy Football Scout Members Area, only those who have signed up for the full 2019/20 season, a monthly pass or a discounted package can access it in full.

What has Hasenhüttl changed?

The cause of Southampton’s recent defensive success can find its roots in a switch from a three-man defence to a back-four some point after that (in)famous defeat at Leicester – as well as a newfound consistency in team selection.

Hasenhüttl came into 2019/20 still a big fan of a three-man defence and flexible attacking formations around that base.

He used a 3-4-2-1 in Gameweeks 1, 5, 7, 9 and 12, a 3-5-2 was rolled out in Gameweeks 2 and 10 and a 5-3-2 in Gameweek 11.

The Austrian did dabble with back-fours at various stages, using a 4-4-2 in Gameweeks 3 and 4, a 4-2-3-1 in Gameweek 6 and a 4-3-3 in Gameweek 8.

However, the biggest issue, as you can probably tell, stemmed from the fact that his side was never settled.

Even when a back-four was used, there were some questionable decisions made about which players would occupy which positions, especially at full-back – although injuries did not exactly help.

Southampton formations

(Personnel included when a back-four)

  • GW1: 3-4-2-1
  • GW2: 3-5-2
  • GW3: 4-4-2 (L-R: Danso, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Valery)
  • GW4: 4-4-2 (L-R: Danso, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Cédric)
  • GW5: 3-4-2-1
  • GW6: 4-2-3-1 (L-R: Cédric, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Danso)
  • GW7: 3-4-1-2
  • GW8: 4-3-3 (L-R: Bertrand, Yoshida, Bednarek, Valery)
  • GW9: 3-4-2-1
  • GW10: 3-5-2
  • GW11: 5-3-2
  • GW12: 3-4-2-1

As we all know, Southampton’s defence was one of the most porous in the Premier League during this period, epitomised by their humiliating 9-0 defeat at home to Leicester in Gameweek 10.

Still, it was not until the Gameweek 12 home defeat to Everton that the death knell was sounded for Hasenhüttl’s initial tactics with a brand new version of 4-4-2/4-2-2-2 system debuted on the trip to Arsenal – which ended in a morale-boosting 2-2 draw.

This was the first match that Hasenhüttl selected a back-four consisting of Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m) and Cédric Soares (£4.8m) as traditional full-backs either side of Jan Bednarek (£4.4m) and Jack Stephens (£4.3m) in a two-man centre-back partnership.

These four players have been the first-choice defenders for each of the last 10 matches in a row and the team has arguably been much better for the consistency – each outing seeing them receiving protection from the same pair of central midfielders too in Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (£4.8m) and James Ward-Prowse (£5.8m).

It would still take some time for the Saints to register their first clean sheet in this configuration, although from Gameweek 14 onwards they only let in more than one goal on one occasion, the 2-1 defeat at Newcastle in Gameweek 16.

It is over the last four matches that Southampton’s improvements have really come to the fore, with clean sheets kept against Chelsea (Gameweek 19) and Spurs (Gameweek 21) while Leicester were successfully neutralised at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

In fact, as was widely reported, the Premier League’s Golden Boot front-runner and 2019/20’s shot-volume king Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) was restricted to a grand total of zero attempts on goal in Gameweek 22.

In order to find out whether this recent upturn in clean sheets is sustainable, and therefore a reliable source of points for Fantasy managers, we are digging even deeper, into the underlying statistics behind Southampton’s defence this season.

What does the underlying data say?

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1,036 Comments Post a Comment
  1. chrisb182
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    7 months, 1 day ago

    Here is a before and after of my WC. I currently sit 1.3m overall and my target is top 500k:

    Before:
    Pope, Button
    TAA, Lundstram, Sidibe Kelly, Aurier
    Salah, KDB, Richarlison, Cantwell, Traore
    Rashford, Vardy, Calvert-Lewin

    After:
    Ryan, Button
    TAA, Lundstram, Holgate, Janmaat, Williams
    Son, Salah, Mahrez, D. Silva, Cantwell
    Firmino, Vardy, Ings

    Anyone with any thoughts?

    1. zotter
      • 10 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Wc in itself is fine. Will require careful management around doubles

      1. chrisb182
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        I've got an exit plan in place for GW25 onwards but knowing my luck this season, I will fall flat on my face with it.

    2. OldBenKenobi
      • 3 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      If you still have BB I would have rotating GKs and fairly decent bench in place on WC in prep for using the BB.

      I think I prefer your pre WC team 😯

      1. chrisb182
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Already used the BB ..... and the TC. 🙁

    3. Old Man
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Have you pressed the button yet? I woudn't WC with that!

      1. chrisb182
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Yeah I've already pulled the trigger on it bud.

        I played my 1st WC in GW3, and I've been suffering since.

        What would you recommend?

        1. Old Man
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 9 Years
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Personally I'd go for the more boring TAA+Salah+Robbo rather than include Firmino. However if you are looking for differentials then it could work brilliantly. Or not.
          I'd have McCarthy in goal to save you a few quid and upgrade somewhere or keep it itb.

          1. chrisb182
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            7 months, 1 day ago

            McCarthy was one option that had which meant that I could upgrade Holgate to Dunk.

            Who would you recommend replacing Firmino with if I went with Robinson?

    4. what's my name
      • 2 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      it’s defo different hence may give you that necessary boost just not sure on Firmino

      1. chrisb182
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        It was a toss-up between Mane/Calvert-Lewin and Son/Firmino. Decided that the latter pairing has a lower combined ownership, and that Firmino has been in good away form recently.

    5. Dthinger
      • 3 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Is Janmaat back in the team?

      1. chrisb182
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Due back sometime this month, but I've got him in for his price and the possibility that it fluctuates quickly. He's got some good bonus scores already this season.

  2. BinManJack
    • 4 Years
    7 months, 1 day ago

    Getting rid of Chilwell to free funds to get Salah, who should I bring in to take his place? Doesn't need to be a starter:

    a) Brandon Williams (Is he a starter for united now or intermittent?)
    b) Holgate
    c) Aurier

    Thanks

    1. zotter
      • 10 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      B though couple more games I might say A

    2. wilson007
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Stephens

    3. Old Man
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      not c)
      If starter not needed then tempted by a) - but start him in the forthcoming juicy home matches

  3. Hakim Ziyech
    • 1 Year
    7 months, 1 day ago

    Boys, should I take a -24

    1. RLew
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Logged in just to say yes

        1. Hakim Ziyech
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Thank you

      • Holmes
        • 6 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Maybe, maybe not

      • zotter
        • 10 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Yeah

      • Hakim Ziyech
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Thanks all. -24 it is

      • Old Man
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        I think not. Just compare the resullts aftwer this week's matches ..... you'll feel so much better

        1. Hakim Ziyech
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Thank you Old Man. Always better to take a wise advise from you. I won't risk it any longer

      • what's my name
        • 2 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        wc?

        1. Hakim Ziyech
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Burnt

      • Amey
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        What game are you playing 😉

        1. Hakim Ziyech
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Lol fpl

      • ⱼₐᵣᵥᵢₛₕ
        • 5 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Jack Bauer?

        1. Hakim Ziyech
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          😆

      • Scott Talent RIP EJ
        • 4 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Only when pissed out of your brain ( I have history in this respect ☺).

        1. Hakim Ziyech
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          I was never going to do that even though I have a total of -60 points taken this season 😆

          1. Scott Talent RIP EJ
            • 4 Years
            7 months, 1 day ago

            The following morning comes as a great surprise though. ☺

            1. Hakim Ziyech
              • 1 Year
              7 months, 1 day ago

              🙂

      • jameslamerton
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        6 months, 28 days ago

        Yes it's the drunk wildcard I play one every few months.

    2. sovietrockettes
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Moving Rashford on:

      A) Rashford>Firmino, play Holgate/Kelly in defence DGW24
      B) Rashford >Haller, Rico>Robbo DGW24

      I suppose the question is who scores more - Haller and Robbo (who both have 2 games) or Firmino and Holgate/Kelly?

      1. zotter
        • 10 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Latter better in medium term. Firmino robbo on average probably score similar

    3. Amey
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Anyone else or just me thinking that the Leicester downturn in form coincided with fixtures conjunction ?

      Small squad, lack of real alternative to Vardy/Maddison/Ndidi is costing them IMO.

      1. Hakim Ziyech
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Nope. It coincided with when their cojones shrinked smaller

        1. Amey
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Ha ha

      2. Abra Dubravka
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Maddison is treading carefully in my squad. He’s lucky he has Burnley next.

        1. Amey
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Yes

      3. Old Man
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Hopefully Rodgers will refresh the squad a little, although I doubt that he will.

        1. Amey
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Yep.
          Ndidi injury is a low blow IMO. Great player. PL is difficult to survive definitely. As the fixtures loosen up a bit, you guys will be fine

      4. Lukakus Unit
        • 1 Year
        6 months, 28 days ago

        - small squad
        - played City and Liverpool
        - missing Ndidi badly

        I'll be getting rid of my non-Vardy Leicester players until GW28. After that, I could see them going on a run until the last few weeks of the season.

    4. AlpoShearer
      • 2 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      A. Grealish
      or
      B. Sarr

      1. Abra Dubravka
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Grealish

      2. Amey
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Doucoure !

        1. Amey
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Should have been a '?'

          1. AlpoShearer
            • 2 Years
            7 months, 1 day ago

            Interesting, cheers

    5. DS29
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 1 day ago

      How long is Ramsdale out

      1. Amey
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Opposite of what Howe says

        1. Would Ed Woodward
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          lol, he's retired?!

          1. Amey
            • 1 Year
            7 months, 1 day ago

            Don't know 😀
            Howe is a lier though.

    6. CelticBhoy1
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Start Rashford or Cantwell?

      Serious question

      1. ManUnitedComeBack
        • 3 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        I'd wait till tomorrow's game and Ole's presser

        1. ManUnitedComeBack
          • 3 Years
          7 months, 1 day ago

          But I'm also facing the same dilemma, unless I cave and sell Rashford for Ings

    7. bigdip
      • 8 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      GTG?

      Ryan (Button)
      TAA, Dunk, Lundy, Kelly, TARGETT
      Richarlison, KDB (c), SON MARTIAL, GREALISH
      Vardy, Ings DCL

      (0 FT; 3.3mn ITB)

      1. AlpoShearer
        • 2 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Yep

    8. Abra Dubravka
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Schmeichel (Martin)
      TAA, Gomez, Sidibe (Lund, Kelly)
      KDB, Mane, Maddison, Grealish (Traore)
      Vardy, Ings, Jimenez

      1FT £2.1m itb.
      A) roll transfer?
      B) Gomez to Robbo for Gw24?
      C) Schmeichel and Traore to Ryan/McCarthy and Martial over next 2 weeks?

      1. Concrete
        • 6 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        C looks good

        1. Abra Dubravka
          • 1 Year
          7 months, 1 day ago

          I know. But I’m scared about Gomez’ minutes with Lovren and Matip returning

      2. zotter
        • 10 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        D. Jiminez to Firmino ?

        1. zotter
          • 10 Years
          7 months, 1 day ago

          Sorry ignore this

          1. Abra Dubravka
            • 1 Year
            7 months, 1 day ago

            Hidden Gomez triple up 😉

    9. Concrete
      • 6 Years
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Vardy to Aguero
      KdB to Silva

      Different from rivals and 60odd behind or too soon for such moves?

      Y or N

      1. zotter
        • 10 Years
        7 months, 1 day ago

        Too soon dude

      2. Abra Dubravka
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 1 day ago

        No way

    10. Riverside Red
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 1 day ago

      Any of you stats nerds out there understand what the benefit is of monitoring this FPL data analysis:
      https://github.com/vaastav/Fantasy-Premier-League/tree/master/data/2019-20