The Fantasy Football Scout end of season awards continue this week with another poll for you to vote in.
We started the week looking at goalkeepers, but it is time to focus on defenders, overall points, price and value in Fantasy Premier League all factors to consider.
2019/20 was another season for flying wing-backs with an interesting overlap with last season’s best performers…
2018/19 Team of the Season Review – Defenders
- Goalkeeper: Alisson
- Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Matt Doherty
- Midfielders: Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah, Raheem Sterling, Ryan Fraser, Eden Hazard
- Forwards: Raúl Jiménez, Sergio Aguero
It is not so often that we see this but each one of last season’s best defenders managed to follow up with another strong campaign in the following year.
Just over 12 months ago, Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson tied the vote on a share of 25.1% each having scored 185 and 213 points respectively.
This time around, despite a drop in clean sheets, both full-backs secured more attacking returns than in 2018/19, Robertson total rising from 12 to 14 and Alexander-Arnold’s from 14 to 19.
Matt Doherty also went from strength-to-strength in 2019/20. The Wolves wing-back’s first full Premier League campaign yielded a total of four goals, seven assists, eight clean sheets and a final score of 144.
It was up to 167 points for Doherty this time, which we’ll cover in more detail below…
What a year it has been for Trent Alexander-Arnold, finishing the campaign with more points than any other FPL defender (210).
In the end, he was agonisingly close to breaking the record for highest season score in that position, set by Robertson’s 213 points in 2018/19, but a Gameweek 38+ benching robbed him of the opportunity.
However, the fact that Alexander-Arnold got so close to that tally is a telling reminder of what he has to offer. Remember that Robertson reached 213 points with 21 clean sheets to back it up; his right-sided counter-part got three points shy with seven fewer shut-outs.
It was, of course, attacking returns that set the tone for Alexander-Arnold in 2019/20, as he involved himself in 19 of Liverpool’s goals.
Direct free-kicks were mostly responsible for his four strikes, while a total of 15 assists was at least three more than any other defender this season, and seven more than Lucas Digne, who finished third for that particular statistic.
Accordingly, Alexander-Arnold secured seven double-figure Gameweek scores, including a record-breaking 24-point haul at Leicester during the winter.
Matt Doherty continues to fly the flag for something of a dying breed in FPL over recent years: the flying wing-back.
Wolves’ 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 systems have both featured the Republic of Ireland international in advanced positions once again in 2019/20.
As a result, despite a price-hike to £6.0m, Doherty still offered value, with four goals, eight assists, 12 clean sheets and 167 points overall. That made him the only non-Liverpool player in the top-four among defenders.
It was really the second half of the campaign that the right wing-back’s explosive potential became apparent, as his attacking capabilities were finally combined with reliable defensive returns.
Wolves had always been good at keeping things tight during Nuno Espirito Santo’s Premier League campaign but often struggled to convert this into clean sheets.
Willy Boly’s return to the side from injury in Gameweek 25 made all the difference. Between then and the end of the campaign, Wolves kept nine clean sheets from a possible 14, the joint-best in the division.
As a result, Doherty registered four double-figure hauls during this period, blanking on just two occasions. A price rise to £6.5m seems inevitable for 2019/20 but if Wolves keep up their clean sheet output, it may be a price well worth paying.
What can we say about this man that hasn’t already been said? A one-man cheat code for much of the 2019/20 season, John Lundstram will go down in Fantasy Premier League history like nobody ever has done before.
A £4.0m defender starting as a box-to-box midfielder in a team that can keep clean sheets meant ‘the Lord’ could offer various scoring avenues.
While he was well-known in the Fantasy Football Scout community during pre-season, the rest of the world first discovered Lundstram in Gameweek 2 when he scored the solitary goal in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and registered a 14-point haul.
It got even better in Gameweek 11 when he scored twice in a 3-0 win over Burnley and came away with a whopping 21 points from one match.
Admittedly, Lundstram was unable to spend the entire of the season in the Sheffield United side, losing his place to Sander Berge just before lockdown, but he still managed a fair number of starts afterwards, adding a goal on the final day of the season.
But it is hard to say 2019/20 was not a success for him as a Fantasy asset. Five goals, four assists, 10 clean sheets, 15 bonus, 144 points, an average of 4.3 per game, all for a man who started the season at £4.0m.
A shift to midfield and likely price-hike to above £5.5m awaits for Lundstram, but we can still cherish the memories.
It might be a long time since Ricardo Pereira was a much-discussed Fantasy asset considering his pre-lockdown injury, but in the first half of the campaign, he was up there with the best.
Between Gameweeks 1 and 15, Leicester’s right-back was joint-top for clean sheets among defenders with a total of seven as the Foxes made a lightning-fast start to 2019/20.
At that point, Pereira was level with Jonny Evans and Çaglar Söyüncü but had more attacking returns at the time and was playing in a more advanced role.
That had helped the Portuguese international score 82 points in the first 15 matches of the campaign, at an average of 5.5 per game.
Things tailed off for Pereira as Leicester’s form dipped and he picked up an injury between Gameweeks 29 and 30+, but there is still plenty of potential going forward if he can get fit for 2020/21.
As previously mentioned, Robertson could not quite match his record-breaking 213-point season tally from 2018/19 this time around but a score of 181 is nothing to be sniffed at.
The clean sheets did drop off for Liverpool this year, the Scottish international able to capitalise on a total of 13, but he more than made up for that short-coming as he pushed forward.
Registering the same number of assists as the previous campaign (12), Robertson advanced his goal threat in the Premier League during 2019/20, netting twice.
That helped him average five points per game this season and, as the campaign wore on, he started to find himself matching Alexander-Arnold’s output once again.
Between Gameweeks 31+ and 38+, Liverpool’s Beckham-esque right-back got just three attacking returns. Increasing his role in corners, Robertson doubled that tally with one goal and five assists combining for involvement in six of Liverpool’s strikes.
Another price-hike seems likely for the left-back in 2020/21, and we could see yet another campaign of debate over which Liverpool full-back is the better option.
As mentioned above, Söyüncü was one of those Leicester defenders who had produced more defensive returns than others in the same positon during the first 15 Gameweeks.
It was the Turkish international who achieved the highest levels of popularity as a result, considering his kind starting price of £4.5m.
Even when he hit £5.0m at the height of Leicester’s powers, that was still better value than those around him in the Foxes’ defensive unit and there was, of course, some attacking threat too.
During the period in question he assisted in a 2-1 win over Sheffield United before posting a 14-point haul for a goal, clean sheet and three bonus against Crystal Palace in Gameweek 11.
Like Pereira, things tailed off for Söyüncü after Leicester hit their rough patch, keeping just five clean sheets from Gameweek 16 onwards and not adding to his attacking returns.
Despite that poor second half of the campaign, price rises are probably incoming for Leicester defence, even if it’s just by £0.5m, which will make it harder to consider Söyüncü in 2020/21.
Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk is often seen as third-fiddle to Alexander-Arnold and Robertson but finishing as the third-highest-scoring FPL defender is nothing to be sniffed at.
Despite that aforementioned drop-off in clean sheets (from 20 to 15 for van Dijk), Liverpool’s centre-back still ended up with 178 points, just three shy of Robertson.
Playing every minute of the cmpaign certainly helped, which may come into play a lot more for Fantasy managers next season when the price gap between van Dijk and the full-backs expands and Neco Williams starts taking starts off their hands.
It is also worth pointing out that 2019/20 provided more double-figure hauls for van Dijk than it did Robertson. While the left-back recorded just one, the Dutch international managed two of them.
The first came when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win against Brighton, racking up 17 points, before 15 were posted in 2-0 win over Manchester United.
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