Pro Pundits - Mark

Why I’m refusing to waver on Klopp’s defensive double-up

Mark Sutherns explains why he’s sticking to his guns amid the Liverpool defensive firesale.


I remain defiant when it comes to Liverpool’s full-backs. An avalanche of goals is flushing funds from Fantasy Premier League defences and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) and Andy Robertson (£7.0m) are rapidly being classified as disposable. But I’m not having it.

I’m not denying the logic. Liverpool have kept just four clean sheets in 13 matches since the restart and the injury to Alisson (£6.0m), a crucial component in Jurgen Klopp’s defensive jigsaw, nudges a hapless Adrian (£4.5m) into the firing line.

That worrying scenario provides a sub-plot to a season that, so far, has seen 144 goals scored, a rate of 3.79 goals per game. That’s a ridiculous figure: the record for a Premier League season was set in 1992/93 when we witnessed a rate of 2.65 goals per game.

So FPL managers are reassessing their team structure and flooding to the major benefactors of the goal rush, notably Spurs’ Harry Kane (£10.6m) and Son Heung-min (£9.1m).

Expensive defenders are being sacrificed and, should Alexander-Arnold and Robertson fail to return in Saturday’s Merseyside derby, the evacuation will only gather pace.

But the recent explosion from the Spurs pair isn’t enough to convince me to give up on my two defensive investments. I may well move funds from Lucas Digne (£6.1m) and Reece James (£5.1m) and replace them with £4.5m options, but I’m remaining steadfast on the Liverpool full-backs.

At this stage, FPL managers normally start to seek out trends and patterns vital to drive our decisions – our transfers, our early-season Wildcards.

But we’ve never experienced a start to the season like this. We’re in the midst of something extreme that, to my mind, makes it impossible to find the comforting foothold of reliable data and form.

So with just this small and extraordinary sample of matches as my reference, I’m refusing to write off a player who, prior to Gameweek 1, was the first name on almost every FPL teamsheet.

At the time of writing, over almost 240,000 managers have sold Alexander-Arnold heading into Saturday’s deadline.

Admittedly, his performances have contributed to that trend. He has been short of his best by some margin and has been strangely peripheral to Liverpool’s play. However, Alexander-Arnold’s numbers remain impressive: only West Ham’s Ryan Fredericks (£4.4m) and Aaron Cresswell (£4.9m) have created more chances among players in his Fantasy position, and with seven efforts on goal, no defender has bettered his direct threat. If you are brave enough to use data given the bizarre four Gameweeks we’ve had, there’s little in the numbers to drive you to sell.

Alexander-Arnold is a player that has provided 28 assists and five goals in his previous two campaigns, with his points tally improving from 185 points to 210. Since the start of the 2019/20 campaign, only Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m) and Jack Grealish (£7.1m) have created more chances and on Boxing Day last year, the right-back coupled that creativity with an eye for goal to haul of 24-points, a record for a defender in the history of FPL.

Is this really an asset we can reject on the basis of four bizarre Gameweeks?

On Liverpool’s opposite flank, Robertson appears to be reaching new levels as an attacking outlet. He’s overshadowed Alexander-Arnold since the restart, creating more chances (22 vs 20) and more big chances (six versus three), while he’s surely passed the eye test.

The Scot is pouring forward on the left flank, overlapping Mane time and time again. He already has a first goal to his name and there should be more to come.

Fabinho bolsters Liverpool defence as Werner shows promise ahead of West Brom

Liverpool will be backed to be second only to Manchester City for goals scored again this season and, collectively, their full-backs have provided 34% of the assists since the start of the 2018/19 season.

So while the chances of clean sheets in the short-term may be diminished by Adrian’s tenure, Klopp’s side will have to score more goals to win matches and that will surely benefit their primary source of creativity.

And I’m not giving up on defensive returns, either.

We have to expect Klopp to react to the Villa Park mauling. He will surely focus on shutting down the gaps that were exploited in that defeat. The return of Jordan Henderson (£5.4m) and Sadio Mane (£11.9m) – both vital to Liverpool’s pressing game that denies opponents the time to exploit a high line – must also be factored in.

That aforementioned record of four clean sheets from 13 outings includes eight matches when the title was almost in the bag. But Liverpool cannot show any complacency now. Pep Guardiola will demand that his City side match Liverpool’s own relentless consistency, so Klopp will know that he has to quickly find a solution to their defensive frailties.

The fixture list convinces me that I can give him time.

Liverpool face just a Gameweek 8 trip to the Etihad and a home clash with Spurs in Gameweek 13 as major tests before the deadline for the first Wildcard.

So for this FPL manager, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson remain at the status they held before the madness ensued: unique assets who can present outstanding value.

They are investments worthy of that extra five million, particularly when I can compensate for that spend by investigating mid-price assets in attacking areas. We’ve already seen that Grealish, James Rodriguez (£7.6m), Dominic Calvert Lewin (£7.6m) and Michail Antonio (£6.3m) are options that offer the potential of returns that keep pace or even better the top tier players.

It’s going to take a Jose Mourinho team to go on scoring five and six goals a game to convince me otherwise. At that point, the madness shifts to a whole new level.


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Mark Mark created the beast. He's now looking to tame it.”

3,031 Comments Post a Comment
  1. FPL Kaka
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 13 days ago

    Who should I start?

    a) Soucek

    b) Brewster

    1. Tonyawesome69
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Soucek - looks good and close to scoring. Not sure how Brewster will play since he hasn't played a game yet in the EPL

    2. DycheDycheBaby
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      A

    3. Graham Zusi's Hair is …
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      a

    4. Dexters Laboratory
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Brewster, Spurs are a lot better defensively than Fulham

    5. Tonyawesome69
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 13 days ago

      KDB to Grealish -4 or play Bissouma?

      0.8itb 0ft
      McCarthy
      Robbo TAA Taylor Ayling
      KDB* Salah Son Podence
      DCL Jimenez
      (Peacock Bissouma Justin Vassilev)

      1. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Anyone?

      2. Hart-ake
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Take the hit as KDB likely to be out for a little while. Grealish great long-term option.

      3. DycheDycheBaby
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Go for Grealish.

    6. Boss Hogg
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Best 4.0 keeper to get with Martinez?

      1. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        The villa backup Steer

        1. Runaway
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 8 Years
          1 month, 13 days ago

          Villa assets can be great enablers if they continue like this so you may not want to use 2 Villa spots on the goal.

          1. Tonyawesome69
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 13 days ago

            Very good point. Forgot about that especially when I would pick Martinez, Grealish and Watkins

      2. Runaway
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        I am going with Forster, I believe he is the likeliest 4.0 to take down the main guy without an injury.

    7. Aubamewho
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Repost,
      Thoughts pls, current WC draft:

      Mccarthy | Martin
      Chilwell | Justin | KWP | Mitchell | kilman
      Salah | KDB | Zaha | Son | JRod
      Maupay | Kane | Brewster

      A) KDB > Grealish, Justin > Lampty
      B) KDB > Grealish, Justin > Reguilon
      C) KDB > Sterling or Mahrez

      1. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        A Samedo

    8. DycheDycheBaby
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      For -4, KDB to:
      a) Zaha
      b) Grealish

      1. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Grealish

      2. Graham Zusi's Hair is …
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        def b.

    9. ZTF
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Rival this week in draft has a utd defender as his last, so which defence would you start?

      A) Utd
      B) Wolves
      C) Brighton

    10. Rhodes your boat
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Kdb to? (-4)

      A) sterling
      B) mane

      1. yanky
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        sterling if you have salah, im in a similar spot below

      2. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Mane

      3. wulfranian
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        b

    11. yanky
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      a) KDB > Grealish -4pt
      b) KDB > Pulisic -4pt (have werner already)
      c) KDB > Sterling -4pt
      d) Keep KDB and play Lamptey or Justin

      1. linkafu
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        2

      2. sozopol
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        very similar dilemma to mine, except for me it would be KDB > Salah (-4). With yours, I'd do either b) or d)

    12. wulfranian
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Would you start Coleman or Targett?

      1. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Targett

        1. wulfranian
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 13 days ago

          cheers

    13. umerlfc
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Son or Salah for the armband?

      1. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Salah

      2. ...al
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Salah cap son VC

      3. linkafu
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Salah

      4. DycheDycheBaby
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        The last 3 PL meetings were 0-0 at Goodison. Son for me.

    14. Chucky
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      KDB to son or sterling for -4? Already used FT..

      1. Tonyawesome69
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Son

      2. ...al
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Son.

      3. sozopol
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        yep, Son

      4. El Fenomeno R9
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Son

      5. Eastman
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Think I'm benching him

      6. Chucky
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Thanks all

      7. DycheDycheBaby
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Son by a mile.

    15. Az
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      Mark and I are streaming live to discuss my last minute panic wildcard if anyone is interested
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuvH5L5A2Ng

      1. ...al
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        I'll give it a whirl

      2. Firminoooo
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Will have a look. Already burned my WC. On -12, if KdB have to go. OR 3.2m. What a season.

      3. Qaiss
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Blackbox 2 days ago.

        "Wildcards being played to bring in Spurs players, lets just all chill out a little bit" hmmm

        ill give it a watch 🙂

    16. ...al
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 13 days ago

      This article pops up hours before TAA is set to possibly drop

      Mucho suspiciouso

      1. AlternativeB
          1 month, 13 days ago

          TAA not playing? Have him in on my WC..

          1. Seanigula
            • 11 Years
            1 month, 13 days ago

            drop in value

          2. ...al
            • 11 Years
            1 month, 13 days ago

            He's playing surely

      2. ZTF
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Did Wilder ever actually say that Brewster can only play for 60 mins?

        1. ...al
          • 11 Years
          1 month, 13 days ago

          He'll either get 60 or 30/15

          1. ZTF
            • 6 Years
            1 month, 13 days ago

            According to who though? I know he said he’s not 100% but he could still get 75 or so

            1. ...al
              • 11 Years
              1 month, 13 days ago

              Wilder comments sound promising for him. Seems like minutes will be either way

      3. sozopol
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        KDB --> Salah worth a -4?

        1. GE
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 13 days ago

          Guess so

          1. sozopol
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 13 days ago

            not exactly brimming with confidence haha

            I hate hits so otherwise I'll probably use a sub-- Bissouma, Justin, or Mitchell

        2. Tonyawesome69
          • 1 Year
          1 month, 13 days ago

          Yes

        3. Graham Zusi's Hair is …
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 10 Years
          1 month, 13 days ago

          yep

      4. GE
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 13 days ago

        Dillemmas in 3-4-3 at WC:

        1) Chilwell and Castagne with no defence cover (Mitchell and Douglas)
        2) Chilwell and Saiss (Dallas/Lamptey and Mitchell on bench)
        3) Castagne and Saiss (Dallas/Lamptey and Mitchell on bench)

        1. AlternativeB
            1 month, 13 days ago

            I'm on nr 3. atm

            1. GE
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 13 days ago

              With who on the bench?

              1. AlternativeB
                  1 month, 13 days ago

                  Lamptey Mitchell (+TAA)

                • AlternativeB
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Had Chilwell a while (on WC now), but Castagne has looked good in every game. Chilwell not sure of yet

                    1. GE
                      • 4 Years
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      Very hard to drop one so maybe take the risk of no Bench cover? 😉 I’m on WC also

              2. Super Jack Grealish
                • 8 Years
                1 month, 13 days ago

                2

            2. linkafu
              • 1 Year
              1 month, 13 days ago

              Pulisic or Rashford? Have Werner and greenwood

            3. Squires FC
              • 7 Years
              1 month, 13 days ago

              Where is the captain sensible article?

            4. Super Jack Grealish
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 13 days ago

              Semedo or Regulion?

              1. RAFA THE GAFFA
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 4 Years
                1 month, 13 days ago

                Reg

              2. Tonyawesome69
                • 1 Year
                1 month, 13 days ago

                Samedo

            5. RAFA THE GAFFA
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 13 days ago

              Team news on this site predicting no Pulisic?

            6. Boss Hogg
              • 11 Years
              1 month, 13 days ago

              Best 4.5m defs on a wildcard?

              1. Dexters Laboratory
                  1 month, 13 days ago

                  Brewster, Spurs are a lot better defensively than Fulham

                  1. Dexters Laboratory
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      Ignore XD Lamptey,Dallas,KWP,Ayling

                • UnitedRthebest
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Dallas or KWP to rotate with Lamptey? Cheers!

                    1. Gomolon
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 6 Years
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      Think Leeds rotate better right?

                  • Graham Zusi's Hair is …
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 10 Years
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    start Davies or Taylor?

                    1. Tonyawesome69
                      • 1 Year
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      Taylor

                      1. Graham Zusi's Hair is …
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 10 Years
                        1 month, 13 days ago

                        cheers

                  • Sewell36
                    • 1 Year
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Will Sterling start tomorrow?

                    1. Bobby_Baggio
                      • 9 Years
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      should do yea

                  • Bobby_Baggio
                    • 9 Years
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Evening all - last check on which to go with please?

                    McCarthy
                    Davies - TAA - Justin
                    KDB - Hamez - Salah - Podence
                    Ings - Mitro - Jimenez

                    (Martin) - Lewis - Johnson - Stephens

                    A) KDB > Son
                    B) KDB > Sterling
                    C) KDB + Mitro > Sterling + DCL (-4)
                    D) Davies + KDB > Saiss + Sterling (-4)
                    D) Davies + KDB > Saiss + Son (-4)

                    1. Gomolon
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 6 Years
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      A

                  • Niho992
                    • 2 Years
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    First hit of the season done. Feeling ashamed. Lol.

                  • DycheDycheBaby
                    • 5 Years
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Davies will not start, right?

                    1. DycheDycheBaby
                      • 5 Years
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      (Ben Davies)

                      1. Niho992
                        • 2 Years
                        1 month, 13 days ago

                        doubt it

                  • Pedram
                    • 7 Years
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Start Brewster or Podence?

                  • cnewman7
                    • 6 Years
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Should I take a -4 hit for Podence or Mitro out?

                    4.7 ITB

                    Ryan
                    Saiss Justin Digne
                    Salah Son Grealish Podence
                    Werner Mitro Jimi

                    McCarthy Bissouma KWP Ferg

                    1. Tonyawesome69
                      • 1 Year
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      No

                  • boroie
                    • 2 Years
                    1 month, 13 days ago

                    Have already taken a -4... is this worth a WC?

                    McCarthy
                    TAA Chilwell Justin
                    Salah Son Prodence KDB*
                    Kane Wilson Brewster

                    Nyland*; Shaw KWP Bissouma

                    1. Tonyawesome69
                      • 1 Year
                      1 month, 13 days ago

                      No play Bissouma

                      1. boroie
                        • 2 Years
                        1 month, 13 days ago

                        Bit worried that all of Nyland, KDB, Brewster, Prodence, Chilwell may not start...