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.


Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles

Full-year memberships are now available for the price of £19.99. Monthly subscriptions also cost just £2.99.

Join now to get the following:

  • Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
  • Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
  • Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
  • Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
  • Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
  • Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
  • Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
  • View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
  • Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.

ALREADY A USER? CLICK HERE TO UPGRADE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT

NEW TO SCOUT? CLICK HERE TO START A MEMBERSHIP ACCOUNT

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

3,031 Comments Post a Comment
  1. GE
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 10 days ago

    Saiss or Semedo?

    1. Catastrophe
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Sem

    2. nico05
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Semedo

  2. Catastrophe
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 10 days ago

    Who to bench?

    A) Justin (AVL)
    B) Saiss (lee)
    C) Digne (LIV)
    D) Brewster (FUL)

    Cheers.

    1. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      B

      1. Catastrophe
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Ya

        1. Catastrophe
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          Ta*

    2. Reckoner
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Tough! C or D

      1. Catastrophe
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Cheers. And yeah, really tough! Want to start Brewster...

    3. GE
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      C

      1. Catastrophe
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Thx

    4. nico05
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      D

    5. Krafty Werks
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      A

  3. CelticBhoy1
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 10 days ago

    Captain Son or Kane?

    1. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Kane

  4. Coys96
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 10 days ago

    If you could captain any midfielder this GW who would it be and why?

    1. Boss Hogg
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Salah.
      I think he’ll score.

    2. Catastrophe
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Son - form, confidence.

  5. I SPEAK ENGELS AND DRINK GI…
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 10 days ago

    Play one
    A) Saiss
    B) Lamptey
    C) Mitchell

    1. nico05
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      A

    2. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      B

    3. FPLSafety
        1 month, 10 days ago

        A

      • Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        ABC is correct order.

    4. Jones Town
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      What do you prefer on WC?

      A) Maupay & Soucek (3-4-3)
      B) Brewster & Trossard (3-5-2) + 0.9 to upgrade defence

      Thanks!

      1. Coys96
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        A

    5. Boss Hogg
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      WC team:

      Martinez, 4.0
      TAA, PVA, Dallas, Lamptey, Mitchell
      Salah, Son, Pulisic, Grealish, Bissouma
      Kane, DCL, Wilson

      (0.4m itb to upgrade Mitchell to a 4.5)

      Any good?

      1. Coys96
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Looks great. Just get the 4.5 now...

        1. Boss Hogg
          • 11 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          Thanks. Which 4.5?

          1. Firmino
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 10 days ago

            KWP

    6. schlupptheweek
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      I feel invigorated took my first ever -12 points, I'm just lying around in an OK rank around 450k but it feels way more exciting facing failure.
      I've done crazy moves of:
      KDB, Podence, TAA, Davis (AVL) to Pulisic (C), Havertz, Chilwell, Maupay and I'm benching Calvert-Lewin so this week will either be a massive drop or I'll end up where I started.

      1. Hulk Smash
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        > Benching DCL

        WTF bro

        1. schlupptheweek
          • 6 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          Either DCL or Rodriguez because of creating a benching headache. Honestly think Rodriguez will be so high on jet lag he will score a massive free kick. It comes down to Rodriguez scoring more for a goal and being more exciting. I figured the least logical moves might be the most logical.

      2. UNDERWORLD7
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        You clearly don’t know failure if it’s wxciting to you lol

        1. UNDERWORLD7
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          Exciting*

        2. schlupptheweek
          • 6 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          We kind of all either fail or win at life when you consider we don't know what comes after life. FPL is not real, it's like money, an abstract concept which can gain greater meaning. FPL is meant to be fun but we overthink it and worry about failing then we don't end up having fun. For instance my first ever season I somehow got 95 points in my 1st GW when not overthinking, the threat of failure with risky moves is more interesting than going templated and getting a nice cosy 10k-100k rank.

    7. Jacky boy
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Wow palace have signed butland
      Now I'm worried about my guaita pick on WC!

      1. Reeker
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Butland is awful these days. He's just backup.

      2. The Littlest Robbo
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Butland makes the current England No1 look the greatest keeper of all time

      3. Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Second string for sure

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

      Bottomed... Which do you prefer?

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

      1. Coys96
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        B

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

          Cheers

    9. GE
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Best 4.5 defender?

      1. Arfaish
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Dallas or Ayling

    10. vandebeek
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Is it mad to transfer KDB to Barkley this GW instead of Son? I really think that Spurs will struggle against WHU, but Villa could continue their run given the Leicester fragility (+ injuries now), and Barkley was arguably the most attacking mid vs Liverpool. This transfer could allow me Podence+Jimenez to Son+Kane in the next GW. So question is whether Barkley could outscore Son in this GW...

      1. nico05
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Is Barkley now nailed? I was unsure great player if he is

        1. vandebeek
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          played 90min first time he was available for Villa, so i think yes he is

      2. Arfaish
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        No I don’t think he will, also would choose him over Grealish and certainly not over Son if you already have Grealish

    11. Will J 256
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Zaha has a slight groin injury. Has a yellow flag on the FPL site. Maybe one to monitor if we get any more last minute news!

    12. Arfaish
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Is the team selection and bench order right for tomorrow:

      Guaita, (£4m)
      Chilwell, Semedo, Justin,
      Salah, Son, Pulisic, Rodriguez, Grealish
      Kane, DCL (Brewster)

      Mitchell, Lamptey, Brewster

    13. how now brown cow
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      A - bissouma & Watkins
      B - mcginn & brewster

      1. Hulk Smash
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        A

      2. linkafu
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 10 days ago

        A

    14. RyanKent14
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Looking ok’ish?

      McCarthy
      TAA Chillwell Justin
      Salah Son Havertz Bruno Jrod
      DCL Wilson

      Forster Mitchell Brewster Bernardo

    15. Jacky boy
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Hope butland be 4.0! At least I can have both butland and guaita without a worry

      1. Reeker
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        He should be 4.0 honestly, there's no way he's starting and is probably worse than most 4.0s but knowing FPL he'll be 4.5

    16. Tonyawesome69
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Start Bissouma or Ayling?

      1. Arfaish
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Ayling, chance at return both ends of the pitch this week

        1. Tonyawesome69
          • 1 Year
          1 month, 10 days ago

          Ayling a better option to start than Justin? LEI seemed to have a number of injuries

          1. Arfaish
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 10 days ago

            Hmmm tough, coin toss

            1. Tonyawesome69
              • 1 Year
              1 month, 10 days ago

              Currently starting Taylor and Ayling over Bissouma and Justin

    17. Newms
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Seems Mane is being overlooked by everyone

      1. Arfaish
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Not nailed to start this week is he? Also Salah looks the form player of the pair atm

        1. Seanigula
          • 11 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          100% nailed

        2. Says
          • 10 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          why would he not start?

      2. UNDERWORLD7
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Overlooked for a reason though

        1. Newms
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          That you're all sheep

          1. Seanigula
            • 11 Years
            1 month, 10 days ago

            I think there will be periods where Mane is scoring more than Salah...but right now Salah is scoring, is on penalties, didn’t have Covid, and many had him from the start

    18. mgilbert86
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Hello,
      Is Mane fit to start?

      1. The Littlest Robbo
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Yes he is

    19. FDMS All Starz
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      What transfers to make?
      Kdb to Son the logical move? Or ship out Davies/Adams?

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

      (2.2itb,1FT)

    20. Mikel Arteta
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Play one:

      A) Ayling
      B) Bissouma
      C) Justin

      1. Coys96
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        C

      2. linkafu
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 10 days ago

        B

      3. Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        B

      4. waldo666
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        B

      5. Mikel Arteta
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Thanks guys

    21. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Have Lamptey & R.James starting, only have Burke on bench who has any chance of playing (even he is a doubt).

      Should I do:

      KdB to Bruno (c) / Mahrez / Pulisic / Zaha (-4)

      or

      just leave KdB this GW and hope two of Lamptey, R.James & Burke feature

    22. GE
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Dilemmaer:

      1) Chilwell or Castagne
      2) Dallas, Ayling or KWP?

      1. Coys96
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Ch
        Dal

      2. linkafu
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Chiwell KWP

    23. HD7
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      So De Bruyne is out

      Any update on Zaha?

      Should we expect Mitchell to start?

      Thanks

    24. waldo666
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      KDB to?

      A) Son
      B) Sterling
      C) Hames

      1. FeverPitch
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Son

        1. waldo666
          • 10 Years
          1 month, 10 days ago

          Cheers.

      2. No Professionals
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Who would you rather own for the next 4

        A) Fernandes
        B) Pulisic
        C) Grealish

    25. FeverPitch
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      KDB and foden to Grealish and Pulisic for free look good?

      1. Seanigula
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        I’d keep Foden and save the transfer

      2. linkafu
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Yes

      3. MY DJ NAME IS PIMP CURRY
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Just KDB out IMO. Bank the other FT

      4. FeverPitch
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Thanks all

    26. Jacky boy
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Haven't seen butland lately
      Is he that bad now?

    27. Will J 256
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Do you guys think Zaha will start considering the slight doubt?

    28. Steinburg FC
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 10 days ago

      Probably already been said but Black Bos is live right now.
      Az bottled Haverts!

      1. Steinburg FC
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 10 days ago

        Black Box*