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. yanky
    • 10 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    a) KDB > Sterling -4
    b) KDB > Pulisic -4
    c) KDB > Grealish -4
    d) Keep KDB and play Justin (AVL)

    1. yanky
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      already have Werner for Chelsea coverage.

    2. cravencottage
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      B

    3. ...al
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      A for risk

      C for sense

      D for dullard

  2. PepSala
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Any updates on chillwell? Will he start?

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

    a. Wilson, Soucek(bench)
    b. Grealish, Brewster(bench)

  4. sully29
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Which two of these to bench?

    Reeses James (SOU)
    Saiss (lee)
    Lamptey (cry)
    Mitchell (BHA)
    Brewster (FUL)

    1. Goodricke
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      James, toss a coin for the other

  5. Bruce Lee
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    premier league football is very interesting right now

    can pool bounce back in the derby?
    are man city in the mud?
    was the villa result just a fluke game or will they keep it up?
    how much more will man utd make us laugh?
    will fulham concede less than 2?

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

    Which option?

    A) Mahrez > Pulisic
    B) Mahrez/Jimmy > Son(c)/Watkins (-4)
    C) Save ft

    Martinez
    TAA Robertson Lamptey
    Salah Sterling Mahrez Barnes
    Jimenez DCL Brewster

    Forster Soucek Mitchell Dunne

    Cheers.

    1. sully29
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      A, I think.

  7. GREEN JUMPERS
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Sterling over Havertz is a simple decision, right? Already got Puli, Salah, Son, Grealish.

    1. cravencottage
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      If you have Pulisic. I dont and am going for Havertz

    2. sully29
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Yes

  8. Bruce Lee
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    this dz is booming

  9. Duffy Dunk
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    KDB to Son
    or
    KDB & Adams to Grealish & Kane
    ?

    1. ...al
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      A

    2. DK_13
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      B if free. Kane a better (c)

  10. emyoueffsee
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Ross Barkley or Trossard?net pick?

    1. emyoueffsee
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Best pick *

    2. ZTF
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Trossard

  11. Sarriball Time
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Will Reece James start...?

  12. Sun Jihai
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Not in the best shape unfortunately!

    Martinez
    TAA Saiss James*
    Salah Mahrez Foden Klich
    Werner DCL Brewster

    Forster KWP Mitchell KDB*

    1 FT, 0.7m ITB

    Any ideas?

    A) KDB to Son
    B) Foden to Grealish
    C) KDB + Foden + Werner to Son + Pulisic + Kane (-8)!

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

    Semedo selected only by 1.6% of managers
    But the craziest thing of all is that Maupay is selected by 5.9% and Bamford by 25.8%

    1. cravencottage
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Hasn’t played a full game

  14. Bookkeeper
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Bench one
    a) Podence (leeds)
    b) Che Adams (chelsea)

    1. LucasMoregametime
        1 month, 15 days ago

        B

      • ...al
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        B all day

    2. Muscout
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 15 days ago

      McCarthy
      Chilwell, Castagne, Lamptey
      Salah, Sterling, Son, JRod
      Kane, DCL, Brewster

      Steer, Soucek, Mitchell, Dunne

      On WC, any transfers to make?

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

        Leicester have about 6 first team players out Villa just beat Liverpool 7-2 and you have no Villa attack

    3. LucasMoregametime
        1 month, 15 days ago

        Ryan (pickford)
        Rjames, Saiss, VVD (justin, mitchell)
        Salah, Son, Hamez, Zaha, Podence
        Kane (C), Jimi (Brewster)

        G2G?

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

          No Villa no party

          1. ...al
            • 11 Years
            1 month, 15 days ago

            I've never heard that before 😆

      • NUFCAndrew
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        A: Pulisic + Saiss

        B: James + Semedo/Chilwell

        1. LucasMoregametime
            1 month, 15 days ago

            A

          • Partick Bateman
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 15 days ago

            B with Chilwell

          • TNB
              1 month, 15 days ago

              B

            • ...al
              • 11 Years
              1 month, 15 days ago

              A

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

            Last Last post before i hit the dreaded wildcard button so early.
            How does she look?

            Ryan
            Chillwell Reguilon Lamptey
            Son Pulisic Salah Grealish Hames
            DCL Kane

            Nyland Brewster Kwp Burr

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

              No way you keep Nyland on a WC

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

                Cool, Hows the rest?
                Will bring in Steele for Nyland.

          • Muscout
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 15 days ago

            Is Dunne likely to play at all or am I better of saving 0.1 and getting a 3.9 fodder

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

              Not anymore sadly. Will be 4th choice when mee gets back

            2. ...al
              • 11 Years
              1 month, 15 days ago

              5th def can be 3.9 fodder on a wc

          • Partick Bateman
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 15 days ago

            Anything worth a hit? 2.4 ITB.

            Ryan
            TAA Digne Saiss
            Salah Son Grealish Barnes
            Antonio Wilson DCL
            ---
            McCarthy Bissouma Doherty Neco

          • Sloane426
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 15 days ago

            (A) Sterling + Maupay
            (B) Rodriguez + Kane

            1. TNB
                1 month, 15 days ago

                B

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

              Will Sterling stert ?

            3. Dangerous Rhubarb
              • 11 Years
              1 month, 15 days ago

              Guys....

              Son or Kane for captain?

              1. TNB
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  Kane

                • ...al
                  • 11 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  Son for me.

                  Mf over striker as a general rule for me

                • Bookkeeper
                  • 3 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  whilst it's a season for penalties, i'd say Kane to increase your chances of captain returns.

                • Pep Roulette
                  • 3 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  I'm going with Kane

                • Sun Jihai
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 8 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  Kane given the penalty angle

                  1. Dangerous Rhubarb
                    • 11 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    Thanks all

              2. TNB
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  Zaha or Grealish?

                  1. Pep Roulette
                    • 3 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    Grealish

                  2. Dangerous Rhubarb
                    • 11 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    I was thinking the same.....Zaha has awesome fixtures but has a flag against him so not sure he will play. Head says grealish heart says zaha.

                  3. ...al
                    • 11 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    Zaha never ends well

                • Pep Roulette
                  • 3 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  One last call before pulling the trigger!

                  KDB & Adams to Son & Kane(C) for free?

                  1. Partick Bateman
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 4 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    Yep

                    1. Pep Roulette
                      • 3 Years
                      1 month, 15 days ago

                      Cheers mate

                  2. Twisted Saltergater
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 11 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    Seems good, but did you have those funds in the bank for a reason?

                    1. Pep Roulette
                      • 3 Years
                      1 month, 15 days ago

                      Not really! My Alli to Podence move in GW2 made me have so much ITB!

                • Barnes Owl
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 2 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  Final WC dilemma:

                  A) Meslier & KWP
                  B) Martinez & Lewis

                  Cheers

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

                    A

                  2. luk46
                    • 2 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    B

                  3. Barnes Owl
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 2 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    Thanks! Any other thoughts?

                • Twisted Saltergater
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 11 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  KdB out means I get to play Brewster vs Fulham, while KdB sits one out.

                  Not minding that at all 🙂

                  1. Pep Roulette
                    • 3 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    What if he misses the next gameweek as well? 11.5 player on your bench for 2 weeks!

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

                      I'll have a FT next week so will assess.

                    2. ...al
                      • 11 Years
                      1 month, 15 days ago

                      That's the risk, and he'll be 11.4 by then

                  2. ...al
                    • 11 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    Yea, I mean, If there's once fixture you'd want him to play in - Brewster, that is... this would be it

                    Contemplating benching KdB and Playing Brewster myself

                    other than that it's a hit in for Pulisic which is meh

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

                      Considered Pullisic but no way is he worth -4 at this stage. If he looks incredible in his first game back, then it's an easy transfer and not for a hit.

                • AD2110
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  What time are the price rises?

                  1. ...al
                    • 11 Years
                    1 month, 15 days ago

                    2:30 bst

                • Sarriball Time
                  • 1 Year
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  What about Reece James...? Will he start...?

                • luk46
                  • 2 Years
                  1 month, 15 days ago

                  last decision on wc:

                  A - Pulisic + Trossard (352)
                  B - James + Maupay (343)