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. Kanteisking
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    RMWC please peeps

    Martinez
    Robbo, Chilly, Lamptey
    Son, Pulisic, Salah, Grealish, Foden
    Kane, DCL
    Sub Adrian, Mitchell, Brewster, KWP

    Cheers

    1. Ramsays Raw Steak
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Adrian can go
      .5 upgrade def

    2. D.Glynn
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Looks good to me

    3. Barnes Owl
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Adrian to Forster
      Mitchell to Dallas

  2. Carcetti
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Help please!

    A) Robbo, Ayling, Taylor

    B) Chillwell, Saiss, Lamptey

    1. Kanteisking
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      B

  3. Nightf0x
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Kdb davis -4 to which duo? itb 18.4

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

  4. Arctic monkeys
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    How much time until price changes ?

    1. Nightf0x
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      2 hrs 30 mins

      1. Arctic monkeys
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        Thanks

  5. SharkyJon
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Which 2 to play?

    Lamptey (cpl)
    Justin (AVL)
    Saiss (lee)
    Mitchell (BHA)

    1. Bobby Digital
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Home players

  6. unitednations
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Was already on a -4, Worth taking another hit for a total -8?

    Martinez
    Taa • Saiss • Lamptey • James* -- Mitchell*
    Son • Barnes • Havertz -- KDB Burke
    Jimmy • DCL • Watkins

    A: Kdb > Salah (-4) and make it -8 for the gw

    B: Dont take another hit and hope that one of james/mitchell starts. Will do KDB >> Salah in gw6 for free. If KDB becomes fit, i will keep KDB and instead upgrade havertz to Salah for a hit in gw6

    1. ZeBestee
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      A

    2. STHH
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      If you have Salah in your squad, he will be on your pitch, probably at the expense of Burke. So your question is whether or not Salah will outscore Burke, James or Mitchell by 2 points this week. Given Mitchell possibly won't be playing because of PVA, your best bet is Reece James.

      It looks like KDB's price could drop tonight as well...

  7. bso
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Looking for the best regular starting 4.5 def. Have Lamptey, Dallas, Chillwell and Cresswell.
    Thought about CP but have no clue who will be a regular.
    Thanks guys.

  8. Pariße
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    A) Castagne & Brewster (4-4-2)
    B) Lamptey & Bamford (3-4-3)
    C) Masuaku & Watkins (3-4-3)

    1. Pariße
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      on a WC

    2. StevenW
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 18 days ago

      C - but I’m a confident Villa fan

    3. Barnes Owl
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      C

  9. Eastman
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Dbl Pool defence on a WC thoughts?

    1. Optimus.
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Sticky belly here..

    2. Barnes Owl
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Nah just one

    3. Eewraks
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Exactly what I'm doing

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

        Yes think so too. TAA and Robbo

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

    Burke, Dier, Soucek and various injuries for the 1st 2.

    Reckon west ham will score so does starting Burke, 1st bench Soucek and 2nd Dier sound right?

    1. Barnes Owl
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Will Burke start tho? I'd rather start Soucek out of those 3

  11. The Tinkerman
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    G2G, or bench James for Taylor (wba)?

    McC
    TAA, Justin, James
    Salah, Son, Sterling, Podence
    Richarlison, Mitrovic, Jiminez

    4.0; CTaylor, Biss, Mitchell

    1. Barnes Owl
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Play James, keep as is

  12. StevenW
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Which 3 defenders would be your preference for the next 4 / 5 GW’s (ignoring price)?

  13. Iceball
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Sterling the way to go? (for KDB)

    1. ZeBestee
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      I dont know, but watching Sterling doesnt fill me with confidence, thats the reason I rarely owned him for the last 2 seasons or so.

      1. ZeBestee
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        But have seen improvement and maturity from him at times this season.

  14. Rinseboy
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    gtg this week?

    Martinez
    Semedo James Lamptey
    Son (c) Salah Barnes Grealish
    DCL Jimi Brewster
    Steer Saiss Mitchell KDB

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

      Looks good!

      I took a hit to get rid of KdB. KdB > Grealish.

      1. Rinseboy
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        cheers Camzy. Good to save the hit this week on KDB you think?
        Just thing I'll more info next week on whether to keep, get Pullisic or Bruno or Bale etc etc.

        You're captain this week?

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

          Between Son and Havertz.

          Probably Son.

  15. Corona is not good 4 U
      1 month, 18 days ago

      A) KDB -> Son for free
      B) KDB and Mitrovic -> Grealish and Kane for - 4
      C) KDB and Saint-Maximin -> Son and Grealish for - 4?

      Thank you!

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

        C. It's the biggest upgrade.

        1. Corona is not good 4 U
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Thank you!

        2. Bobby_Baggio
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          A

          1. Corona is not good 4 U
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Thank you also!

          2. Gnu
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 11 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            C)
            Mitro has 2 more fixtures in him so not B)

          3. Africa United
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            A 100%

        3. tbhogal
          • 11 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          Which option is best guys ?

          A) KDB > Grealish -4
          B) Bench KDB and start Podence

          1. Africa United
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            B

        4. NoName
          • 5 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          KDB to?

          A) Pulisic
          B) Grealish
          C) Sterling

          1. E25
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Eek. Maybe a punt on Pulisic. You have Son already? Rodriguez?

        5. HD7
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          Right order of starters and bench?
          Captain?

          Mccarthy
          TAA Mitchell Castagne Semedo
          Salah Son(C) Zaha
          Ings Jimi DCL

          Button Bissouma Mendy Holding

          1. snow pea in repose
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Zaha a possible question mark with groin strain?

          2. Will J 256
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Will Zaha be ok for the Brighton game?

          3. EgyptianKing
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Do you think is OK starting one of Brewster Mitchell or Bissouma each GW for next 3 weeks?

          4. E25
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Thoughts on the below?
            A) KDB -> Son (go without city for a while)
            B) Do A + upgrade Mitro to DCL (-4)
            C) A + upgrade Podence (up to 9.2) (-4)

            Ryan
            Taa Robertson Justin Taylor
            Salah Rashford KDB* Podence
            Jimenez Mitro

            Walton KWP Davis Reed
            1.3ITB 1FT

          5. Sz21
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            McCarthy.
            TAA, Robbo, Ayling, Mitchell.
            Salah(c), Son, KDB, Podence.
            DCL, Jimenez.
            Button, Justin, Adams, Bissouma.
            1ft, 0.0m ITB.

            1. KDB -> Pulisic (3.2m ITB)/ Grealish (4.4m ITB).
            2. KDB + Jimenez-> Pul (1.1m ITB) or Grealish (2.3m ITB) + Kane (c). (-4)

          6. The Yorkshire Pirlo
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Really stuck on what to do with KDB

            A) KDB > Grealish -4

            B) KDB > Salah -8

            C) bench KDB

            1. sozopol
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              A

          7. Bobby_Baggio
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            BDavies > ????

            Already have TAA + Justin

          8. Gudjohnsen
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            What are the must haves this gw?

            1. Bobby_Baggio
              • 9 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Son

            2. Iceball
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Noone, it will be random as the other weeks.

            3. Optimus.
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 9 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Loo roll here in Ireland with talk of lockdown

          9. bso
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Who is a regular 4.5 def. starter for CP?

            1. Africa United
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Sakho

          10. No Professionals
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            KDB to grealish.

            Who do I move on for Kane

            A) Jimenez
            B) Bamford

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

              Bamford surely.

            2. Bobby_Baggio
              • 9 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Bam bam bam

            3. STHH
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              My gut says ditch Jimenez. He was playing in Netherlands this week whereas Bamford was rested. Bamford feels like the more risky option, which could give you some highs and lows this weekend.

          11. KDB4PREZ
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 18 days ago

            A. Kane/Trossard
            B. Mahrez/Jimmy

            1. ZeBestee
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Kane and co at Spurs are shaping up nicely, can see a bit more consistency from them this season.

              So Kane and Trossard

          12. StevenW
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Vardy a doubt after scan (Rob Dorsett - Twitter)

          13. King Henrik
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            How do I look guys on a wildcard. Only concern is not owning one of Trent or Robbo.

            Ryan
            Chillwell Reguilon Lamptey
            Son Pulisic Salah Grealish Hames
            DCL Kane

            Nyland Brewster Kwp Burr

            1. No Professionals
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Very nice

            2. Kanteisking
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Triple spurs - not keen on that - rest is good