The international break and build up to Gameweek 5 were busy periods for the Scout Network. We caught up with some of them to see what they got up to, as well as finding out their thoughts on the latest FPL talking points.
Some key figures from the Network shared their views on the debate surrounding premium defenders and whether they are worth the investment…
Ted Talk’s FPL graphic for potential attacking returns from defenders
Clean sheets may have more-or-less vanished since the restart of the Premier League but we don’t necessarily pick defenders just for clean sheet points. We have to play at least three of them in our FPL teams so why not pick those with the greatest attacking potential?
In the graphic above, the black icons represent the defenders priced £5.5m and over. There are only really four premium defenders that are statistically head and shoulders above the rest: Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Chilwell and Digne.
The latter three all have three attacking returns to their name, while Alexander-Arnold only has one, despite having the most impressive stats.
There are certainly more attacking returns to come from the highest points-scoring defender for the last two seasons – sellers beware.
Chilwell’s position is even more remarkable given these numbers are from just two appearances. These four players all play for teams who are in good attacking form, meaning their creativity has a higher chance of being converted into goals. This is a key aspect that might not be applicable long-term to players priced under £5.5m.
The next best players include three West Ham men, Reece James (rotation risk) and Tariq Lamptey. The latter, in my opinion, is the best of the rest.
Brighton have been in good attacking form this season enabling Lamptey’s creativity and penalty box touches to be converted into three assists.
There seems to be a bit of template forming for the defensive line and, crucially, most of the selections seem to be premium options. This is why I am championing keeping money in the backline.
Maintaining flexibility with different price points is important, allowing you to jump on any player easily when they come into form. For example, if you lost faith with an expensive back line and then suddenly Alexander-Arnold started hauling, it would be difficult to bring him back in without the use of a Wildcard.
I am also confident that once goalkeeping issues are sorted out for Liverpool, Chelsea and perhaps Everton, clean sheets will be more forthcoming, at least against low scoring sides such as Crystal Palace, Burnley, Sheffield Utd, West Brom, Fulham and Newcastle.
Laporte celebrating scoring for Manchester City during Project Restart
My personal strategy this season is to stick with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson all season. Yes clean sheets may be limited, especially with Virgil van Dijk and Alison injured, but with those two players, you’re basically buying £7m/£7.5m attackers who also get clean sheet points.
I think, come the end of the season, we’ll struggle to find better value than the Liverpool full-backs.
This strategy also allows me to focus my transfers on attacking players as opposed to constantly switching defenders based on form. Outside of the Liverpool full-backs I’m not sure I’d be interested in any of the other premiums.
If however, Aymeric Laporte returns to fitness and looks to be playing regularly, I think he offers tremendous value at £6.0m, so he is the only other premium defender I’m keeping an eye on at the minute
Trent Alexander-Arnold in action for Liverpool
The Premium defenders are really divisive topic in the FPL community so far this season. While there have been a similar number of clean sheets in the opening weeks of this season as there were last term, the number of goals conceded in each Gameweek has been higher.
I started this season with one premium, one mid price, two 4.5m defenders and a 4.0m option and actually my thinking on this as a strategy still hasn’t changed.
I held Trent Alexander-Arnold through my Wildcard, however with van Dijk’s injury he made now be downgraded to one of the more mid-range defenders such as Ben Chilwell who, whilst aren’t keeping clean sheets are providing more regular attacking returns than we are seeing from Trent currently or a sideways move to Robertson who is offering more attacking threat currently.
Alexander-Arnold’s forward momentum seemed to have been limited by Jordan Henderson’s positioning in the Merseyside Derby during Gameweek 5, whereas on the other side Robertson was much higher up the pitch and thus his connection with Mane was working better than Alexander-Arnold’s with Mohamed Salah.
For me, if your Premium defender is returning regular attacking returns then it is worth maintaining them, however if they aren’t returning at either end of the pitch nor keeping clean sheets its probably time to think about redistributing the money across the rest of the team.
What’s going on in the Scout Network?
After a disastrous Gameweek 4, Ted Talk’s FPL played his Wildcard over the International Break which turned out to be a good decision, with new additions Son + Kane (c) doing well, amongst other successes.
Ted’s YouTube channel reached the milestone of 1,000 subscribers aided by two attack and defence videos, which proved to be popular. Over on Twitter, Ted reached 10k followers, having added daily animations to the schedule.
In FPL terms I’ve been doing very little to my team. In fact, had it not been for a Jamie Vardy injury, I’d have saved my free transfer for Gameweek 6.
This season I’m trying not to tinker too much with my squad as I find it’s easy to start overthinking things. I spend a lot of time in the FFS Premium Members Area, digesting the stats, but very little time on the Official FPL site, managing my team.
I have been keeping up to date with my blog, where I detail my thoughts and transfers each gameweek and as usual I have been hanging around on FPL Twitter engaging in discussion and sharing my FPL fails.
Over the International Break El Statto launched a new series of articles over on his website called The ABC Transfer Guide. He published the first two articles last week Setting out the stall & Early Doors
El Statto also spend International Break making improvements to the functionality and look of his website to make it a more user friendly and nicer site for FPL managers to use.
Weekly FPL Poker Tables blog was published which reported on very encouraging results for the previous gameweek’s predictions, and highlighted the key points of interest regarding the Gameweek 5 scoreline predictions, clean sheet probabilities, expected goals and player points.
Spreadsheet sales went global with customers now from all around the world, including Indonesia, Slovenia, Malaysia, India, and Ireland.
FPL Poker Player also announced the development of a new sortable players expected points table to enhance the value of the tables to make it an even more useful tool for FPL managers.
The betting arm spinoff account also recorded a 25% Return On Investment in GW4, with 3 winning bets out of the 4 recommended to followers.
Both Lee and Sam played their Wildcard’s over International Break – albeit in very different circumstances. Lee deployed his very early in the two-week window, with Sam playing her’s on the Friday evening before the deadline when the Kevin De Bruyne injury news broke.
Their stream in the middle of International break looked at Lee’s wildcard as well as the drafts of all of their Patreon‘s who were playing their Wildcards.
You can catch the FPLFamily’s latest live stream here.
If you are interested in being part of the Scout Network or the Scout Academy please get in touch here – we would love to hear from you!
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