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. AF90
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    RMWCT please....to heavy in midfield? 0.5m itb

    Martinez, 4.0
    Robertson, Saiss, Lamptey, Dallas, Dunne
    Salah, Son, Grealish, Sterling, Zaha
    DCL, Maupay, Brewster

    1. FPL_DON
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      zaha injured

      1. AF90
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 14 days ago

        ??

    2. Mr. Chimes
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 14 days ago

      I’d say you’ve got a pretty standard team for a 3-5-2 aside from preference over 6.5 striker and 7ish 5th mid. It’s really between this and a Harry-Kane-based 3-4-3.

  2. Slitherene
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    KdB ->

    A) Sterling (-4)
    B) Start Justin (AVL)

    1. nico05
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      B

  3. _YNWA_
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Martinez
    James Robbo Justin
    Son Barnes Rodriguez Podence
    Werner Calvert Jimenez

    KDB Mitchell Saiss

    For a hit -4:
    A: Podence Werner out Kane Bissouma in
    B: KDB Podence out Salah Bissouma in
    C: KDB Barnes out Salah Barkley in
    D: Other?

  4. tim
    • 11 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Any news on Sterling?

    Easy KDB to Sterling or Grealish?

    Cheers!

    1. Squib
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      Considering same.
      Or Pulisic
      Or Grealish
      Or Mahrez

  5. Smudger’s Dirty Dozen
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Martinez
    TAA Justin Saiss
    Salah (C) Zaha Son Podence
    DLC Jimi Werner
    SUBS Lamptey Mitchell Burke*

    1ft 2.5m itb

    A roll FT
    B Podence to Trossard
    C Werner to Maupay
    D Werner to Wilson

  6. Buck The Trent
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Keep one?

    A Ings
    B Jimmy

    1. DycheDycheBaby
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      A

    2. linkafu
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 14 days ago

      A

    3. GE
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      S

      1. GE
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 14 days ago

        Lol, A

  7. DycheDycheBaby
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Looking forward to another boring 0-0 at Goodison tomorrow...

  8. linkafu
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Pulisic or James?

    1. NobleBlackman
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      James.. he's got form and Pulisic is a ? right now

  9. dshv
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Advice

    Starting WC or keep kdb ???

  10. CRO KLOPP
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Anything worth a hit here ?(4.3 itb)

    Martinez
    TAA James Saiss
    Salah Son Barnes Podence
    Werner DCL Wood
    (4.0 Mitchell Dunne Burke)

    1. NobleBlackman
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      Werner out for Kane?

      1. CRO KLOPP
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 14 days ago

        I could do that,and captain Kane, thanks mate

  11. Niho992
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    GtG lads ?

    McCarthy
    Trent-Justin-Ayling
    Havertz-Barnes-Salah-Grealish
    Jimenez-(K)ane-Mitro

    Steer-Bavies-Mitchell-Bissouma

  12. Autopick XI
    • 6 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    on a WC:
    Martinez
    Robbo Chilwell Dallas
    Salah (c) Son Grealish Mahrez Trossard
    DCL Kane

    Subs: Button Lamptey Brewster Branthwaite

  13. DMP
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Is it worth an hit to move Ben Davies out to Semedo/Chilwel/Reguilon? Any chance he starts deu to Dier injury? KWP 1st on bench,

    1. DycheDycheBaby
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      Someone told me it's not worth taking hits for defenders. I agree with them

  14. FDMS All Starz
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    What transfers to make?
    Bruno? Davies? Adams? Justin? TAA? Kdb?

    McCarthy
    TAA - Justin - Davies
    Salah - Kdb - Bruno - Podence
    DCL - Wilson - Adams

    (2.2itb,1FT)

    1. NobleBlackman
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      Defo KDB to Son

  15. Atimis
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Keeping Mitchell on WC?

    1. NobleBlackman
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      I am, there's just no one to replace him with for that price

    2. Shark Team
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      Mainly to have him on the bench but this 0.2(or 0.1) mil maybe very important because things happening suddenly this year so keep him

    3. Jimmers
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      No. PVA is back

  16. Shark Team
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Castagne or Semedo
    Salah or Mane
    Maupay or Antonio

    Thanks

    1. GE
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      C
      S
      M, switch to A later

      1. Shark Team
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 14 days ago

        Thanks but why Castagne over Wolves Def?

        1. GE
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          Castagne such a great return so far

    2. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      SSM

  17. GE
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Saiss nailed?
    Who to drop for Saiss on WC?

    1) Chilwell
    2) Castagne
    3) None, meaning no defence bench cover (Mitchell and Douglas)

    1. Shark Team
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      Saiss will outscore the others but Chilwell is a great option to consider

      1. GE
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 14 days ago

        Thanks

  18. thepuntmaster
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 14 days ago

    Thoughts on this WC draft?

    Ryan - Steele
    TAA - Digne - PVA - Ayling - TAA
    Salah - Fernandes - Zaha - Trossard - Burke
    Kane - DCL - Watkins

    Thanks

    1. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 14 days ago

      Burke not nailed
      Rest is great. 2 TAAs tho

  19. AlternativeB
      1 month, 14 days ago

      TAA + JRod or Robbo + Pulisic?

      1. OleBall
          1 month, 14 days ago

          1st

        • bitars
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          The option with two fee kick takers and not the one with a player that gets injured all the time.

        • Arfaish
          • 8 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          First one

      2. OleBall
          1 month, 14 days ago

          Sterling or Son?
          Captain too

        • boroie
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          I have already taken a -4 hit. is this worth a WC?

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

          Nyland*; Shaw KWP Bissouma

        • nico05
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          Best KDB replacement?
          Son? Or someone else? Cheers

          1. bitars
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            Son no doubt.

            1. nico05
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              Thanks mate. I’ll do that.
              Is he worth C currently on Jimi?

              1. UNDERWORLD7
                • 9 Years
                1 month, 14 days ago

                You're currently captaining Jiminez? No way imo.

              2. bitars
                • 3 Years
                1 month, 14 days ago

                Don't ask me about captain choices- because i usually miss them. I have both Jimenez and Son in my team but Salah is the captain.

                1. nico05
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 2 Years
                  1 month, 14 days ago

                  I’m the same ha ha also have Salah but currently overlooking. Seems Son C is the way to go.
                  May I ask one last question would Podence - Grealish for a hit be wise?
                  Thanks again 🙂

        • bitars
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          Bowen & Maupay or Trossard & Wilson?

          1. nico05
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            Trosssard & Wilson for me both look in great form

        • Phil's Stamps
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          With Salah & Son uninspiring captain choices this week and Leicester's injury troubles at the back, doesn't anyone fancy a punt on Grealish?

          1. UNDERWORLD7
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            Why uninspiring? Son is a fantastic choice!

            1. nico05
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              Agree with this

            2. Phil's Stamps
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 9 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              I have Son, I like him (I live in Korea so it's hard not to), but West Ham are not going to play like Southampton or Man Utd so I can expect an assist at best.

        • Inspector Norse
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          Best Mid - Fwd duo for 17.9m combined for next few GWs? (both playing)

          Have Rodriguez, Salah, Grealish and Son (mid)
          + DCL and Brewster (fwd)

          Thanks

        • Reckoner
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          On a WC, currently:
          Martinez (Steer)
          Robbo - Chilwell - Justin (Mitchell, Dunne)
          KDB- Salah -Son - Soucek (Bissouma)
          Kane -DCL - Bamford

          would you do:

          A) KDB straight to Mane with exact money , or

          B) KDB and Soucek to Grealish and Rodriguez with 1.9m itb left

          Both tempting.... leaning towards B and improving defence with the money

          1. Hulk Smash
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            B

        • antoinehude
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          KDB to

          A) Sterling
          B) Bruno Fernandes

          1. Carcetti
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            A

          2. Reckoner
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            A

        • Carcetti
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 14 days ago

          Which one?

          A) Robbo + Ayling

          B) Chilwell + Lamptey + Creswell

          1. Zrinkec
              1 month, 14 days ago

              a

            • mikess
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              B

          2. Hulk Smash
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            Why do so many on here prefer Maupay over Watkins?

            1. Slitherene
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              On penalties

            2. GE
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              Plassholder for Antonio for me

            3. Inspector Norse
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              pens + Grealish

            4. mikess
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              He's got pens at least

          3. mikess
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 10 Years
            1 month, 14 days ago

            Which do you prefer?

            A) KDB > Mane or Sterling - 4
            B) Play Brewster

            1. nico05
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 14 days ago

              Mane for me

              1. mikess
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 10 Years
                1 month, 14 days ago

                Cheers