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. Arfaish
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Who is the better keeper pick on wildcard:

    A) Martinez
    B) Guaita

    1. It’s gonna Ben Mee
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      A

    2. linkafu
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 12 days ago

      A

    3. Runaway
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      A

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

      Would you not be tempted to pay the extra 0.3m for a better defence in Palace?

  2. linkafu
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Pulisic James Rod or Havertz

    1. Balls of Steel
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      James

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

      Rodriguez

    3. Runaway
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Pulisic this week, James long term

  3. tarantino2005
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    kdb to pulisic or grelish?

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

      Pulisic, live a little

    2. MY DJ NAME IS PIMP CURRY
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Grealish

    3. linkafu
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Pulli

    4. Balls of Steel
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Grealish

  4. Coys96
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    KdB to

    1) Bruno (c)
    2) Mahrez
    3) Zaha
    4) Pulisic

    Would cap Son otherwise

    1. MY DJ NAME IS PIMP CURRY
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Getting in Bruno is a terrible decision. United are a dumpster fire

      1. Coys96
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        So which then

        1. OptimusBlack
          • 7 Years
          1 month, 12 days ago

          4

        2. MY DJ NAME IS PIMP CURRY
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 12 days ago

          From those 4, I'd go for Pulisic

      2. No Professionals
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Averages nearly 7 points per game

    2. Krafty Werks
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      5 - Sterling

      1. Coys96
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        I have Foden, does that put u off sterling?

        1. Krafty Werks
          • 6 Years
          1 month, 12 days ago

          No, would still be my preferred pick tbh.

      2. Szarleej
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Thats what I did

    3. Dwotle
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Pulisic

  5. Mackans
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Would you WC?

    McCarthy
    Trent Chilwell Saiss
    Salah KDB* Son Podence
    Jimenez DCL Adams

    Bench: Justin & cheapies

    Or would you just do KDB & Adams -> Grealish & Kane (-8)?

    1. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Don't WC

      Do that

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

      No wildcard, KDB to Sterling and leave

  6. MY DJ NAME IS PIMP CURRY
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Why does the search feature here only search articles, and not comments?

    I'm sure it's been asked before but can't find a discussion:

    Would you keep Mitchell on a wildcard? Or downgrade to 3.9 to save that 0.1?

    1. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Wouldn't keep

  7. VinMar
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Martinez

    TAA, James, Saiss, Lamptey (Dunne)

    Salah, Foden, Podence, (KDB)

    Werner, DCL, Jimenez

    2 free 0.3 itb what to do....

    Thinking KDB + Foden/Podence to Son + Grealish, next week Werner to Aguero?

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

      Looks great but with Podence, Foden should be nailed

    2. Balls of Steel
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Same team apart i have Robo for Trent 🙂 I am contemplating KDB + Podence to Son + Grealish this week.

  8. Nice to Finally Michu
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Az looks absolutely defeated

  9. Pickle juice
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Would you do below for -4

    Kdb and Jiménez

    To

    Pulisic and Kane

    1. No Professionals
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Considering the same

  10. Boss Hogg
    • 11 Years
    1 month, 12 days ago

    Need a 4.0 keeper to go with Martinez.

    a. Steer
    b. Forster
    c. Someone else

    ???

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

      No stand out option so just pick one you think won’t drop in price

    2. Dexters Laboratory
        1 month, 12 days ago

        B) You may want triple Villa

    3. Wolfman180
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Whats everyone's thoughts on Sterling?
      On Wildcard with him currently in my squad but with KDB out and no strikers fit im having second thoughts. I just can't decide on who to replace him with, already have Salah, Son, Pulisic. Dont currently have a Liverpool defender so may downgrade to fund it.

      1. Seanigula
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        I’d just avoid City for now...they are the EPL’s Humpty Dumpty

      2. Sgt Frank Drebin
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        I would downgrade and distribute the funds elsewhere. With such a midfield line you probably can strengthen other formations significantly.

    4. Shark Team
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Sterling over Salah for the next 2 gws because I want to captain Fax Vs West Ham away?

      1. Shark Team
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Raz* xd

      2. Seanigula
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Bad idea

      3. Seanigula
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        You might end up as Shart Team 🙂

        1. The Knights Template
          • 7 Years
          1 month, 12 days ago

          Can't stop giggling.

          1. Seanigula
            • 11 Years
            1 month, 12 days ago

            Yeah, I’m pretty happy with that one

    5. RossoneriHammer
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      My Sky overhaul team, thoughts please?

      Martinez
      Dallas Saiss Castagne
      Pulisic Antonio Mahrez Fernandes Rodriguez
      Kane Salah

      1. lugs
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        looks good, i think you're covered for captaincy options for the next few weeks too

    6. Sgt Frank Drebin
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      I love Antonio but just thinking whether Bowen isn't better pick actually especially combined with the bench options (Bowen + Brewster vs Antonio + Stephens). Their stats are similar, maybe Antonio's are better but on the other hand Bowen gets +1 point for goals and a point for clean sheet.

      1. Nice to Finally Michu
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        both great picks

        1. Sgt Frank Drebin
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 12 days ago

          Yeah I know, but we have so many options in midfield I have to make choices. If going for Antonio I have 2 places left, and Grealish, Bowen, Rodriguez, Trossard and Barnes to choose from.

    7. Runaway
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      A) Robbo + 4x4.5

      B) Chilwell + Semedo +3x4.5

      1. Sgt Frank Drebin
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        I think you can safely get a 4.0 or 3.9m defender as the 3rd sub and it won't have that bad consequences. The probability of him coming in is so low you'll be better of saving the 0.5m.

    8. noquarternt
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Why is Lamptey still flagged? Is he going to play?

      1. Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Should start, flag won't come off until he does.

    9. Balls of Steel
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      What to do with 2FT this week? 0.7 itb

      Martinez
      Robo James Saiss
      Salah KDB Foden Podence
      Werner (C) DCL Jimi

      Forster, Lamptey, Burke, Dunne

      The obvious 1 ft is KDB to Son! Any suggestions guys?

    10. No Professionals
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      One to own for next few weeks

      A) pulisic
      B) fernandes

      1. Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Prefer A as of now.

    11. Jinswick
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Anything better than this?

      KDB & Davis -> Trossard & Kane

      McCarthy
      Trent, Virgil, Mitchell
      Salah, Son, KDB, Foden
      Jimenez, Antonio, Davis

      Steer, Bellerin, Bissouma, Holding
      Bank 0.9m, 2FT

    12. DMP
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Zaha flaged?

    13. OptimusBlack
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Why all ppl selling Jiménez ?

      1. Seanigula
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        He hasn’t been scoring despite good fixtures

        1. Seanigula
          • 11 Years
          1 month, 12 days ago

          and people want Kane

      2. MY DJ NAME IS PIMP CURRY
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Very low ceiling for an 8.5m tbh. I got him in last week but a few podcasts convinced me it was a poor move. Taking him out now on WC

      3. Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        I'm giving him another week at least.

    14. Greyling
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Hi guys,

      With 2 FTs, which essential player/s to bring in team below?

      Pickford
      TAA, Mitchell, Justin
      Salah, Rodriguez, Barnes, Fernandes, Foden
      Werner, Wilson

      Brewster, Digne, Walker-Pieters

      1. I SPEAK ENGELS AND DRINK GI…
        • 1 Year
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Barnes+Werner -> Grealish+Kane? Enough funds?

    15. Jacky boy
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Sorry to ask again, but should I worry about butland as I'm picking Guaita on WC??

    16. Patron
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Is there a chance Clyne starts for CP?

      Thanks!

    17. Destroyer of teams
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      KDB to start just like Son?

      1. JIMMY764
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        No chance.

      2. Van der Faart
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Highly doubt it.

      3. Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Highly unlikely.

    18. jdp219
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      1) Davis > Watkins and switch to 343
      2) KDB > Sterling
      3) Save FT and bench KDB

      McCarthy
      Trent, Saiss, Justin, Mitchell
      Salah(c), Son, Soucek, Podence
      Ings, Jimenez
      (Nyland; KWP, Davis, KDB)

    19. Coys96
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Pulisic or Sterling?

      Have Foden

    20. Sepp Blattered
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      How's this WC? Pretty template I think..

      Guaita - 4.0
      Robbo - Coady - Lampey - Dallas - Ayling
      Salah - Son - Rodriguez - Grealish - 4.4
      Kane - DCL - Maupay

    21. MY DJ NAME IS PIMP CURRY
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Mane or Sterling?

      1. Shark Team
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        It's 50/50 but if you have Salah then surely Sterling imo

    22. Shark Team
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 12 days ago

      Meslier or Martinez as GK

      1. Seanigula
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        The CS odds heavily favor Leeds

      2. Krafty Werks
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 12 days ago

        Martinez