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. Joyce1998
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    KDB to sterling for free??

    1. Z
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Ofc

    2. Arfaish
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Yup

    3. Boberella
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      For free, yeah probably.
      Mahrez?

    4. Krafty Werks
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Fo sho.

  2. Pépé Pig
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Who out for Kane:

    A) Jimi
    B) Ings

    1. Arfaish
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Ings

    2. The Littlest Robbo
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Jimi

  3. Arfaish
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Really struggling with my bench and team selection:

    Guaita
    Semedo, Chilwell, Justin
    Son, Salah, Rodriguez, Grealish, Pulisic
    Kane, DCL

    £4m, Mitchell, Lamptey, Brewster

    1. Krafty Werks
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      I'm playing Lamptey over Justin, Leicester with defensive injuries and sure will concede, Lamptey more attacking threat than Justin too?

  4. Boberella
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    No one fancy Mahrez in for KDB?
    (If already have Son, obviously)

    1. Arfaish
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Prefer Sterling

  5. Niho992
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Evening lads.

    All good ?

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

    Steer-Bavies-Mitchell-Bissouma

    1. Boberella
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Looks good to go

      1. Niho992
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        cheers

  6. dshv
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    1. Keep KDB
    2. Start WC just for 2-3 transfers

    1. Krafty Werks
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      3 - take a hit.

      1. Niho992
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        this

    2. Arfaish
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      1

  7. Gudjohnsen
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Any 4 million defenders playing?

    Defence atm chilwell, Taylor, Dallas, Mitchell, Dunne

    Think it's too thin with Chilwell a doubt and Mitchell and Dunne fodder.

    1. Boberella
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Chilwell still a doubt? No longer flagged and frank said he’s in the squad, I heard.

    2. Arfaish
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Chilwell is in the squad, why won’t he play?

    3. Kanteisking
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Chilly plays

  8. No Professionals
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Do we actually think pulisic starts?

    1. Krafty Werks
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Most likely.

    2. Kanteisking
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Yes definitely

  9. JJeyy
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Last decisions:

    A) Saiss or Reguilon
    B) James or Pulisic

  10. Will J 256
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Any further updates on Zaha? Do you think he will play?

  11. No Professionals
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    This has Kane massive let down written all over it doesn’t it

    1. Gudjohnsen
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      This

    2. Boberella
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      And Son too probably.

    3. Crouch Potato
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Whatever happens this gw they will both rack up points throughout the season.

  12. grooveymatt65
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Hi guys How does WC team look?

    My team is:

    Martinez Martin

    Chillwell, Robertson, Justin, Mitchell Bernado

    Salah Son(c) Pulisic Grealish Bissouma

    Kane Wilson DCL

    (1.3 itb) 1ft

    what do you guys think? I did have Zaha instead of Grealish but took him out as apparently he's a doubt.

    thanks!

  13. Z
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    What is Vardy status?

    1. Leonard hatred
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Probably in bed asleep. Still looks like Steptoe.

      1. Boberella
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        Haha!

      2. Z
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        +1 for you hahahah

    2. camarozz
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      75%

  14. Tmel
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    KDB >

    a) Sterling
    b) Son
    c) Grealish

    1. Z
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Son

  15. camarozz
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Would u be absolutely off my rocker going Watkins (c)?

    Leicester injuries is good news and going with the herd so far this season hasn't got me anywhere.

    1. Boberella
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Not the craziest idea I’ve seen

    2. Camzy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Not the craziest idea. But unlikely to be the next Antonio from last season (your legendary moment)

      1. camarozz
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        Hmm that was pretty special alright.

    3. Old Bull
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      The thought has drifted across my mind too. I will if you will.

  16. Mr. Chimes
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Going Reguilón over Chilwell I think. I don’t have the balls to pick an attacking differential so why not. Anyone else?

    1. Z
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Was thinking about Reg...but i will take my chances with Sancez (he is 100% nailed)

    2. camarozz
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Iv done the same. Triple spurs could be gold or a disaster.

  17. FPLMACKEM
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Anyone else holding KDB for this week in the hope hes back next week? or is KDB > Son -4 worth it?

    1. Pad Randa
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      I am.

      1. FPLMACKEM
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        1 month, 15 days ago

        You're holding? I'm tempted also. Id have burke/lewis coming in.

  18. Reeker
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Just waiting on James Rodriguez to go up tonight so I can take him out for Pulisic on WC

    1. AF90
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Contemplating this same move....have been burnt by Havertz & Werner already though so feel like I should wait on Chelsea & no real reason to get rid of Rodriguez!?

      1. Reeker
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        Actually same, I do feel Pulisic is the better long term pick but maybe I should see how he does first. James isn't as good as casuals thinks he is but probably better but he's still good and good value. Think it just feels more balanced as I have DCL as well.

        1. AF90
          • 8 Years
          1 month, 15 days ago

          Yeah I dont want double Everton or Spurs, would like to spread the cash but dont see any alternatives to Rodriguez...Zaha now possibly injured & got Grealish!

  19. Boss Hogg
    • 11 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Which 4.5 defender completes this wc back line?

    Martinez, Forster
    TAA, PVA, Lamptey, Dallas, 4.5?

    ???

    1. Z
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      KWP or mby even Justin?

    2. King Henrik
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Kwp

    3. Boberella
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      KWP, Taylor

  20. Pad Randa
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    What's the deal with Zaha's flag?

    1. Z
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      I asked the same....they told me that he will play. I ll took my chances

    2. The Littlest Robbo
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      The tweets have Roy's comments on this

  21. AF90
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    A) Kane & Trossard plus 1.6m
    B) Sterling & Maupay

  22. Shark Team
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Which one

    A)Rodriguez Maupay

    B)Pulisic Watkins

    Grealish and DCL owner

    1. Kanteisking
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      B

  23. Nightf0x
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Kdb davis -4 to which? pick 2: 1 mid 1 fwd
    (1 expensive 1 cheap)

    A) Ings antonio kun vardy
    B) Puli grealish jrod barnes foden sterling

  24. OptimusBlack
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Would u WC this
    So Sorry for repooooost
    McCarthy
    Mitchel* Justin Chilwell
    KDB* Salah Rodríguez Podence
    DCL Jiménez Vardy*
    (Steer) Egan Bissouma Holding
    Already -4 and 0.5 ITB

    1. ZeBestee
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Yea

    2. dynamike
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      No, too late for wc now, it will all change again tomorrow

  25. tbhogal
    • 11 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Which option is best guys ?

    A) KDB > Grealish -4
    B) Start Posence

    Martinez(Steer)
    Chilwell, Robbo, Saiss (Lamptey, Mitchell)
    Son, Foden, Podence, Salah (KDB)
    Brewster, DCL, Jimmy

  26. Dele
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    KDB >>> Sterling or Bruno??

    1. dynamike
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Grealish

    2. Ramsays Raw Steak
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Penalty

  27. ZeBestee
    • 6 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Mane or Son.

    Have Salah but no Spurs cover.

    1. Kanteisking
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Son

  28. ZeBestee
    • 6 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Grealish or Hames?

    1. King Henrik
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Hames

  29. King Henrik
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Not wildcards this early in years. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

    Martinez
    Trent Reguilon Mitchell
    Salah JRod Son Grealish
    Kane DCL Abraham

    4.0 Romeu Dunne Burr

    1. hugothedog
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Love the Reguilon pick.
      Don’t like Abraham, far from nailed on.

    2. Park the bus
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      bench channeling the So Solid Crew of old.......

  30. Ramsays Raw Steak
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    I wanna bench james play brewster
    But i cant!

    1. _Ninja_
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      I hope you mean reece?

    2. lugs
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      that's what i'm doing, he has a really tough fixture after a long haul flight so his minutes will likely be managed, while Brewster has Fulham, so imo if ever there was a week to play Brewster over Rod this is it