Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Defenders

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Defenders are another area where there are two schools of thought. Either splurge on attacking players and just see what you have left, or have a solid base on which you can rely each week to get a clean sheet. I prefer the latter but it’s quite difficult to have quality across your squad. Invariably this means defence is an area where you try and make ends meet.

To be honest you can set up your team so that you have three solid players and two from relegation strugglers. This way the three wil play every week and if for some they’re injured you’ll at least get a couple of points from the two subs. Again, if it’s anything like last season where an unheralded team does well, you could end up with a John Paintsil coming off the bench to score you six points every week. Not bad for a £4m player.

Eyes of a serial killer points scorer.

Eyes of a serial killer points scorer.

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Expensive (£6.5m-£8m)

Following his all-star performances last season, Nemanja Vidic tops the defenders list at £8m. Understandable as he scored 187 points which was good enough for fourth overall, but I don’t expect Man Utd to have quite as good a defensive record this year. Well certainly not 12 clean sheets in a row or whatever it was. You have to ask whether Vidic will get you £1.5m worth of value in terms of extra points compared to a £6.5m defender like Evra. I’m not so sure myself.

Last year saw the second lowest goals total in Premier League history, and this is reflected with defensive prices being higher than ever. The six main players competing to be in the Chelsea defence all cost over £7m! Even Carvalho, who was injured for ages and scored the grand total of 44 points. The only Chelsea option I like is new signing Yuri Zhirkov. I agree with the Football Guy that he’s likely to play left wing, which means clean sheets, goals and assists. He’s expensive at £7.5m but worth it I’d say.

Elsewhere you’re welcome to go for Rio, Carragher, Johnson etc but I’ll be looking for cheap players in top four defences. Right back at Man Utd is an area to watch, all the candidates fall in the next category. I avoid Arsenal defenders as Arsenal defenders don’t generally keep enough clean sheets to warrant costing £6.5m. They may surprise with Vermaelen now marshalling but it’s unlikely. Gallas scores quite a few goals though. Baines is interesting at Everton, he really kicked on in the second half of last season. He takes his fair share of set-pieces so could be good for some assists.

Seven assists last year.

Seven assists last year.

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Mid-range (£5m-£6m)

There are some good picks to be found at this price level if you look hard enough and you could form quite a nice back three. As mentioned, the candidates for right back at Man Utd all fall at £5.5m (Wes Brown at £6m aside) and hopefully it will be one of Rafael, O’Shea or Neville who gets it.

Elsewhere it’s the range of defenders who play for Europa League chasing clubs – the likes of Fulham, Everton and Aston Villa. It’s difficult to see who stands out really. All the Fulham boys are now unappealing at £5-5.5m. Villa really need to replace the retired Martin Laursen if I’m to pick anyone from their back five – they fell apart without him post Janaury. Everton will hard to beat as usual so maybe a Yobo or Jagielka (when he comes back). With Man City signing Toure plus Barry in midfield, they should concede a lot less. Bridge is good for assists and should get some clean sheets.

I like the look of Insua at Liverpool but he won’t play too much initially. To the lower end of the scale (£5m) you should be looking at the key defender for the mid-table teams like Bolton and West Ham. Guys like Cahill, Upson and Woodgate for Spurs will often be the key to a particularly good result against a top side and will thus snaffle the three bonus points that will come with it. All three of them got 15 points + in bonuses last year.

Underrated.

Underrated.

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Cheap (£4m-£4.5m)

Here’s where some of the fun of fantasy is.  You’ll find yourself with 14 of your squad picked and you’ve only got £4m for your last defender. You then spend ages debating whether one particular Burnley defender is better than another despite knowing nothing about either. It usually ends up being pot luck with who you choose (invariably based on last season’s Championship appearances) and more often than not I’ll pick someone with the best name. How about Ronald Zubar from Wolves? Or Danny Shittu from Bolton (an oldie but a classic). Kallio? Stoor? Zayatte? To be honest your guess is as good as mine. You can at least be safe in the knowledge that whoever you pick, they’ll be getting transferred in Gameweek 2 for someone who actually plays.

On a more serious note there’s some decent bets at £4.5m who I expect to have good seasons. Steve Bruce made Wigan into a good defensive unit when he was at the JJB and I expect him to do the same now he’s at the Stadium of Light. I’m not a 100% on who will be first choice but someone like Ferdinand could be a good shout. I was impressed with what I saw from Roberto Martinez at Swansea last year and he should see that he continues Bruce’s good work at Wigan. Bolton, Blackburn and Stoke should also provide a few options (Faye is still £4.5m as is Nelson).

Say hello to your third sub!

Say hello to your third sub!

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T.

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