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. ...al
    • 11 Years
    1 month, 8 days ago

    -4 punt on KdB to Pulisic or grealish?

    Or just play Brewster

    1. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      Play Brewster imo

    2. wulfranian
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      I think its a 50/50 and that because we don't knwo if Brewster will start.

    3. thepuntmaster
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      I’d go Puli

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

      Play Brewster

    5. ...al
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      All the answers!

      Brewster fixture best it could possibly be but I do like a punt. The hit might be paid back but I’ll prob want KdB back next week or after

      Tricky

  2. wulfranian
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 8 days ago

    Reguilon or PVA?

    1. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      Reggie

    2. thepuntmaster
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      PVA

    3. ...al
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      Reg

    4. wulfranian
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      thanks all

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

      Reg

      1. wulfranian
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 8 days ago

        cheers

  3. 2OLEgend
      1 month, 8 days ago

      Bottomed..
      Sorry for the re-post, but would like some more input on this.

      Vardy - > Kane for free? Yay or Nay?

      And who to cap?
      A: Salah
      B: Son
      C: Vardy/Kane

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

        Nay
        C

    • thepuntmaster
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 8 days ago

      Apologies for the long (re)post, bug last minute worries. Here’s my side at the mo...

      McCarthy (che)
      TAA (eve) - Mitchell (BHA) - Saiss (lee)
      KDB* (ARS) - Salah (eve) - Fernandes (new) - Pereria (BUR)
      DCL (LIV) - Jimi (lee) - Mitro (shu)

      Steer - Lascelles - Bissouma - Johnson

      1FT, 0.4 itb
      A) KDB > Son
      B) Wildcard to the below...
      Ryan - Steele
      TAA - Digne - PVA - Ayling - TAA
      Salah - Fernandes - Zaha - Trossard - Anguissa
      Kane - DCL - Watkins

      Any thoughts??

      1. 2OLEgend
          1 month, 8 days ago

          A by a mile. Bissouma first on bench imo

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

            Seems so, but I’m worried Mitchell won’t play. Bissouma and Lascelles uninspiring options..,

            Not convinced by Jimi or Mitro either

        • wulfranian
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          a.Even if Mitchell is out,Lascelles could get a header vs ManUtd..you never know.

      2. Garlana
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 8 days ago

        Best 4.5 mid ...?

        1. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 8 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Stephens. Plays and is 4.4.

      3. Infected by ebolasie
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 8 days ago

        Have Davies and KDB with 1FT (Bench: Bissouma, Ayling, Ferguson)

        Would you -4 for eg Son + Chilwell? Or what would you do?

        1. 2OLEgend
            1 month, 8 days ago

            KDB - > Son

            1. Infected by ebolasie
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              What would you do with Davies? Keep and play? Play Ayling instead? He seems like a must transfer down the line

              1. Boberella
                • 4 Years
                1 month, 8 days ago

                No need for a hit for a defender if you have Ayling cover.
                Just do KDB > Son

        2. Tempestic
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          I'm currently on Salah captain but I'm really not sold on it, Werner potentially playing up front vs that SOU highline does sound tasty or Son vs WHU? Tough decisions

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

            Tricky one this GW!
            In the last 3 gameweeks, fewest big chances conceded:

            Everton: 2
            West Ham: 3
            Sheff Utd: 4
            Southampton: 4

            Potentially a week for a punt I quite like the idea of a Villa asset riding their form vs. a Leicester teem missing a number of key defenders.

            1. Tempestic
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              I am not captaining Barkley.... 😆

            2. Tempestic
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              that does make for bad reading... Also have Sterling vs ARS but with no KDB I dont like it. I'm honestly very tempted by Werner..
              Southampton with Burnley and WBA in the last 2 making it easy for the highline

              thanks for the reply

        3. Stupendous
          • 8 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Damn it what's the deal with Zaha??? Just seen the flag.

          Any Palace fans about?

          Need to rethink now! On WC

        4. Brehmeren
          • 10 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          WC, any suggestions?
          Got rid of double Liverpool defence and not looking to get one in.

          Martínez

          Chilwell, Semedo, Reguilón

          Rodríguez, Salah, Son, Pulisic, Grealish

          Kane, Calvert-Lewin

          Steele, Brewster, Lewis, Walker-Peters

          1. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            This is rad.

          2. Stupendous
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Phew that is nice

          3. wulfranian
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            nc team.I would like Martinez+KWP->Guaita+4.0

          4. mixology
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Very cool, exciting defence. Go for it!

          5. Tempestic
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            love it

          6. Hazardouss
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            You have inspired me to get Reg.

            Like this side a lot, GL!

          7. Brehmeren
            • 10 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Thanks, guys.
            I'll go with this then.
            Who to captain? Currently on Son..

        5. Cappernam
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          1 month, 8 days ago

          KDB out for Bale. -4 worth risking

          1. cravencottage
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Like it

          2. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Balls out. I like it.

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

            Building up the bottle for something similar myself.

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

            Nice idea

          5. Balls of Steel
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Wish I had balls as big as you 🙂

        6. Goodricke
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Hames to Havertz or Pulisic?

          I can't see him playing too well after his international commitments, long flight and early kickoff in the space of 3 days or so!

          1. Yves Bissouma Blues
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 10 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Pulisic, but probably not unless on a WC.

            1. Goodricke
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              On a WC

          2. FantasyHero
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Nope. Hamez is pure quality.

        7. cravencottage
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Last decision
          A) TAA and Pulisic
          B) Saiss and Sterling

          1. GREEN JUMPERS
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            1 month, 8 days ago

            A

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

          Risers: Son (9.2) Rodríguez (7.9) Watkins (6.0)

          Fallers: Aubameyang (11.8) Ward-Prowse (5.8) Fraser (5.8) Yarmolenko (5.7) Fabio Silva (5.3) Phillips (5.2) Austin (5.2) Garcia (4.8) Sean Longstaff (4.8) Onomah (4.8) Valery (4.8) Tete (4.4)

          1. Dynamic
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            3-0

            Thanks Ragabolly.

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

            Yaads JRod got him for 7.5 can sell for 7.7 now !

          3. K_UN_DE_BRU_YNE
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Cheers 1-0

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

            Fabio Silva at 5.3m will be great if he starts and turns out like he is in FM20!

        9. Stupendous
          • 8 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          3 nil boom

          1. Stupendous
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Ragabolly reply fail

        10. Mile Plankton
          • 7 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Is Bamford C good idea?
          Or go with one of the big hitters (Son/Kane/Salah)

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

            I Have Bamford and it's not a good idea

        11. gonzalocampos
          • 5 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Start Podence or gamble on James?

        12. Yank Revolution
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Had to WC, last minute decision due to KDB, possible Zaha doubt and a weak bench. Here's the new team ("new" WC players in brackets)

          3-4-3

          (Martinez/Steer)
          TAA/Justin/(Saiss/Lamptey/Kilman)
          Salah/Son/(Pulisic/Grealish/Bissouma)
          DCL/(Kane/Wilson)

          0.0 ITB

          1. Stupendous
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Dont like that defence AT ALL.

            1. Yank Revolution
              • 9 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              Justin safe for a few more weeks and may not even lose his place. TAA is the man and should come good. Saiss is quality with decent to good fixtures. Lamptey has been effective and should play this GW. Kilman is just 4.0 fodder. What's the problem?

              1. Stupendous
                • 8 Years
                1 month, 8 days ago

                I wouldn't want any of them on a WC besides Saiss

              2. Rsforstar
                • 2 Years
                1 month, 8 days ago

                Lei has depleted defence

        13. OptimusBlack
          • 7 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Who is Best 5th Midfielder with 5M or less ??

          1. Yank Revolution
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Bissouma

            1. OptimusBlack
              • 7 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              Cheers

        14. fcsaltyballs
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          1. Mahrez
          2. Foden

          ??

          1. Mile Plankton
            • 7 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Neither.
            But Mahrez if you must.

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

            I own both and think I want to lose both.

          3. Boberella
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Mahrez

        15. OptimusBlack
          • 7 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          If u on WC who would u get
          Son
          Bale

        16. slavkob
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          Kane or Son for captain? last decision

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

            Mmm your call! Go with your instinct

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

            Kane on penalties swings it

        17. AD2110
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          This WC team g2g?

          McCarthy, Steer
          Robbo, Saiss, Chilwell, (Dallas, Mitchell)
          Salah, Son, Pulisic, Grealish, Bissouma
          Kane, DCL, Wilson

        18. 420king
          • 6 Years
          1 month, 8 days ago

          RMWCT:

          Martinez Forster
          Robertson Chillwell Lamptey Dallas KWP
          Salah Son Rodriguez Grealish Bissouma
          Kane DCL Watkins
          0.8m ITB

          Feels like I too much in defense. Maybe Watkins to Brewster and get Pulisic instead of Bissouma for 3-5-2? Would require downgrading Robbo (or Chilwell to 3.9). Thoughts?

          1. Cruyff's Eleven
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            You need a playing bench... COVID-19 remember?

        19. UnitedRthebest
            1 month, 8 days ago

            On WC. Dallas or KWP?

            1. DT42
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 9 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              same dilemma
              Dallas vs Ayling vs KWP?
              currently favouring Dallas

          • JAYPEE
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Updates on Ricardo Pereira, Ferguson and PVA injuries?

            I decided to keep Justin and Mitchell in my WC last Gameweek

            Who do you think will be the best swap for them. Will consider it next week and hold the transfer as I already did KDB to Son

          • Stand By Mee
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Bottomed:

            For the next two would you rather have:

            A) Grealish (lei, LEE)
            B) Pulisic (SOU, mun)

            1. slavkob
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              Pulisic

            2. GREEN JUMPERS
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              1 month, 8 days ago

              Got both, but if only one, Grealish

            3. Boberella
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              A

          • Stupendous
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            On WC...

            Castagne, Bissouma and Watkins
            To
            Robbo, Zaha and Brewster???

            Move to 3 5 2

            1. Stupendous
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              Willing to take risk on Zaha with Brewster in if he doesn't play. Can't see him on bench if not fit. Fixtures after are peach.

              1. GREEN JUMPERS
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                1 month, 8 days ago

                Doing the same on that same premise

            2. Hazardouss
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              I like the moves

            3. Boberella
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              No way. I’d stick with the first option

          • Hazardouss
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Final WC team, have to get on with my day.
            Thoughts?

            Ryan
            TAA, Reguilon, Semedo
            Salah, Sterling, Son, Pulisic, Trossard
            DCL, Watkins
            (Walton, KWP, Mitchell, Brewster)

            1. Stupendous
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              I think your forwards are hurting because of the extra heavy hitter mid.

              Kane and/or Aguero (or both), could be waving at you soon.

              1. Hazardouss
                • 4 Years
                1 month, 8 days ago

                I agree completely, but I'm happy to give Sterling a go (Is one of my favourite players haha)

                Cheers!

          • Stand By Mee
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Start:
            Justin (avl)
            or
            Ayling (WOL)
            ?

          • noquarternt
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 8 days ago

            Surely I’m not about to keep Werner for another 2pointer?

            1. Tempestic
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              I'm really about to captain him....

            2. slavkob
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              Surely I don't see how he can go 5 games in EPL without scoring

            3. fish&chips
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              I shipped him so he's bound to score

            4. Balls of Steel
              • 5 Years
              1 month, 8 days ago

              This is finally the game week he will score big 😉