August means the Premier League is back. The excitement builds toward the English top-flight’s return on Friday the 13th!
Fantasy managers have their game caps on, set to hunt for points as they begin their draft business.
Let’s jump into those defenders who may both provide clean sheets and score goals or provide assists too. But clean sheets are valuable on their own, so one doesn’t need not go all-out for attacking defenders. A mixture of price-tags and reasonable plan can do wonders. There are plenty of options out there to choose from.
Bargains - £4.5
Ben White (ARS, £4.5m)
For someone whom Arsenal bought for £50m, his job will be just to defend non-stop. The Gunners’ defensive strength goes under the radar, managing a solid third-least goals-conceded (39) last season, only Chelsea (36) and Man City (32) conceding fewer.
Arteta’s side may have a few flaws here, but White was excellent for Brighton, so for £4.5m, one gets a player who pretty much plays every single game, is extremely consistent and can be a great asset at the Emirates despite his lack of attacking threat.
Luke Ayling (LEE, £4.5m)
Ayling hardly missed a game last season, and despite Leeds conceding tons of goals, he did find 12 clean sheets. Yes, he may not have scored or provided an assist, but the defender produced numbers good for this price-range, he may start providing bigger numbers than before.
Max Aarons (NOR, £4.5m)
The Canaries must rely on players like Max Aarons if they hope to stay out of the relegation zone in the early stages of the campaign, so the fullback is nailed on, a bargain at this price. His ability did attract Man United at one point.
Matt Targett (AVL, £5.0m)
Aston Villa is the talk of the town due to a busy summer transfer window. Dean Smith may have lost Jack Grealish to Man City, but he has been building a great defensive rock plus attacking flair, and Matt Targett does both exceptionally well.
The fullback creats tons of problems for the opposition, picking up 16 clean sheets and adding four assists last season. He has become a vital member in the Midlands and will surely keep growing.
Vladimir Coufal (WHU, £5.0m)
West Ham is in great hands due to Coufal’s form, becoming an integral part of David Moyes’ up and coming team in East London. The Czech has been a revelation since signing for the Hammers, grabbing nine assists and nine clean sheets last term, which is why he’s reasonable for this price, better than Aaron Cresswell who costs £0.5m more.
However, Cresswell did enjoy his most prolific FPL season by having 11 clean sheets and 11 assists and is likely to perform even better, so both full-backs are reasonable choices depending on your budget.
Junior Firpo (LEE, £5.0m)
A gamble for sure. If the former Barcelona left-back does manage to find his way into the Leeds side, his attacking flair could find points. He does seem like the kind of player who can thrive under Marcelo Bielsa.
Lucas Digne (EVE, £5.5m)
With the defensive-minded Benitez taking over at Goodison Park, Digne should benefit from clean sheets, but the Spaniard will also emphasize more set-pieces, and there is no one better to deliver than the French left-back. Thus Digne should have regular opportunities to provide and even look for goals.
Interestingly, he has never earned fewer than 120 FPL points in his three EPL seasons. Digne is especially attractive to start the season because Everton faces only one “big-six” club before GW-10.
Ibrahima Konate (LIV, £5.5m)
The new Liverpool player will compliment Virgil Van Dyke until Joe Gomez (£5m) is fully recovered. However, the former RB Leipzig star will look to prove himself to Jurgen Klopp. He is also a threat during set-pieces, able to put the ball in the net or even assist. However, Konate is still new to the English top-flight, so there’s a risk factor in the early stages of the campaign.
Luke Shaw (MUN, £5.5m)
What a U-turn it has been for the former Southampton left-back. Out of favor under Jose Mourinho, he has become ‘Shawberto’, a vital player for both Man United and England. He had a great Euro 2020, and it really looks like he’s entering his peak years, earning 124 points last term, thanks to 10 clean sheets, five assists and a goal.
On top of that, both Harry Maguire (£5.5m) and Luke Shaw are very reasonably priced. Surely the left-back will be a great asset given the improvements the Red Devils have made in their back line.
Ruben Dias (MCI, £6m)
Easily the best defender last season, winning awards like Football Writers’ Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Year and Man City’s player of the year. The Portuguese center-back was essential to Pep Guardiola’s defense and many FPL squads last year. Dias regularly picked up bonus points last term as he helped Guardiola’s side to 17 clean sheets on the way to the title.
He may not have more points than attacking defenders, but he wasn’t far off — becoming the 6th best defender in FPL last term and the highest-scoring central defender. If you are looking for a clean sheet, Dias is your guy.
Ben Chilwell (CHE, £6m)
Since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel, the Blues have become solid at the back, and that helps Ben Chilwell. Chelsea ended the season having shipped just 36 goals in 38 league games, 2nd-best in the EPL. Only 11 of those goals were conceded under the German manager.
The England international may not have had a great Euro 2020, but he did his best-ever season at the club level, scoring three goals, adding six assists, and earning 12 clean sheets. With 139 points, the Chelsea defender was a top-10 defender in FPL last season. The only problem is rotation — Marco Alonso (£5.5m) features in a back 5 or 3, which Tuchel prefers.
Joao Cancelo (MCI, £6m)
Cancelo was phenomenal for Man City, becaming one of the top defenders for FPL, thanks to 14 clean sheets, four assists and two goals last term. Pep Guardiola’s side looks to have most of the ball and hopes for his creative players to step-up and break deadlocks. Surely, the Portuguese is one such with creative ability and talent.
Virgil van Dijk (LIV, £6.5m)
Yes, this depends on his return to full fitness, and yes, he may not generate the points that attacking fullbacks do, but just like Dias, the Dutch international is a major threat whenever there is a set-piece. He’s a constant danger and even finds the occasional long pass for the assist.
Andy Robertson (LIV, £7.0m)
Liverpool’s left-back is one of the most expensive defenders in FPL but rightly so. Over the past four campaigns, Robertson delivered an average 166 FPL points, and he even managed to breach the 200-point mark in 2018-19. Over the past three seasons, the Scot has contributed a combined 32 assists and three goals – with plenty of clean sheets to his name as well.
Despite Liverpool suffering major injuries last term, and with heavy criticism aimed at him, Robertson managed to play every game for the Reds, going the full 90 minutes on 35 appearances, earning 12 clean sheets and registering eight assists. With no competition in his position, he will without a doubt be a regular for Liverpool.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV, £7.5m)
There he is, the most expensive defender in FPL. Just like his partner in crime Robertson, the English international faced problems last season, often falling short in his defensive duties due to center-back injuries. However, TAA has been the best in his position for a few years now. In the past three seasons, the right-back has registered 26 assists and seven goals.
He earned 185 points in 2018-19, 210 in 2019-20 and, despite enduring injury woes, in 2020-21 still managed 160 points becoming the third best defender on FPL last term. With stable backing from his central defenders restored, Trent Alexander-Arnold can threaten to break the 200 point mark again.
Which of the top FPL defenders picks could make your squad? Are you planning to bring someone else who is not listed? What is your plan for GW-1? Any specific strategies in your mind in the early stages of the season? Please join us in the comments to tell us your plans and ask more questions!