In this FPL dilemma, we take a look at two of the standouts of last season for the two North-London clubs. Toby Alderweireld and Hector Bellerín were in fine form for their clubs, making their respective positions their own. Bellerín was finally able to tie down the right-back position he looked destined to fill with the Gunners, while Alderweireld was a hit at centre-back in his first season at Spurs after signing from Atletico Madrid last summer.
Being the two most expensive defenders in this years game at 6.5m each, few will be able to entertain having both in their FPL sides and are stuck with the FPL Dilemma of choosing which one to have. This year especially, considering the struggle to cram in the big names ahead of the season openers in mid-August. Most sides will likely contain just one of these options, and that’s where we come in: to take a look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide who will slot nicely into your side.
Hector Bellerín (6.5m)
After joining from Barcelona as a teenager, Hector Bellerín made the transition from winger to full-back as he grew into not only the role, but the Arsenal side as well. Last season saw Bellerín pick up a huge 172 points, in no small part due to the attacking ability he possesses in abundance. Alongside the 18 clean sheets he picked up last season, he was personally able to express his talents further forward, scoring 1 goal and assisting a further 6 for his teammates. Bellerín’s ability to overlap and get to the by-line was a feature of Arsenal’s play last season, especially at home, where sides tend to sit deeper. This favours Bellerín, enabling him to express some of the Spanish flair he learned in his time with Barça.
On to his fixtures, Arsenal possess a relatively easy opening five, before a four game run of 1-rated difficulty fixtures, in which many Gunners players could see massive returns, despite their high price tags. His full opening run consists of: Liverpool (H), Leicester (A), Watford (A), Southampton (H) and Hull (A). The first two games may be off-putting, but a lot depends on how you perceive Leicester for the coming season. Both Leicester and Liverpool possess the ability to score goals, but Bellerín offers attacking returns that may still make him a good option for the opening pair. Arsenal will be hoping to build on the strong defensive foundations of last season, and Bellerín will have a large impact as the Spaniard has been able to tie down the right-back position with minimal competition.
Toby Alderweireld (6.5m)
The Belgian centre-back signed for Spurs off the back of a good loan spell at Saint Mary’s with Southampton during the previous campaign. This move turned out to be one of the best of the window as Spurs so nearly claimed the ever-elusive Premier League title they desire. Spurs success was in no small part due to the attacking ability throughout the team, not only through full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, but through Toby Alderweireld. He put his aerial presence to good use as he scored 4 goals and assisted a further 3 (a rarity for centre-backs). Spurs were able to keep 13 clean sheets last season, perhaps a tad underwhelming considering how close they came to winning the title, and perhaps their relative lack of shutouts was the key reason behind them missing out. Having also, accumulated 822 bonus point score, Alderweireld staked his credentials as one of the best centre-halves in the league.
Spurs’ opening five consist of fixtures arguably slightly easier than Arsenal, in: Everton (A), Crystal Palace (H), Liverpool (H), Stoke (A) and Sunderland (H). Liverpool and Everton stand out as unlikely clean sheets, but with Alderweireld’s attacking ability, he may be able to keep the points ticking over nonetheless. However, Spurs’ away form was notable last season, and FPL managers should be aware of this heading into the new season. Overall, I wouldn’t be surprised if Alderweireld continues to impress this season, but in many ways the rest of the Spurs defence may hold the key to the Belgian’s FPL point tally, and at 6.5m may be just a bit too pricy.
Who to pick?
I think in this FPL dilemma it’s rather obvious to see that you can only really have one of these two in your side while retaining squad balance. Two defenders costing 13.0 between them is a bridge too far for me and I’m sure many others will take the same opinion. However, the pricing is not without basis, with both offering a real threat going forward. If Alderweireld can replicate his goal-scoring form he may well be worth selection. However, if I’m honest I see more value in selecting Bellerín ahead of the coming season, mainly due to the sheer time he spends in and around the opposition penalty area.
One consideration for this FPL dilemma must be the fact that Bellerín has higher ownership at 33.1% compared to Alderweireld’s 26.7%, however as ownership differentials go it would be silly to suggest that a margin so small should decide on your selection. Alderweireld played approximately 200 minutes more, but again, there’s little point in taking any notice of this.
However, all this aside, potentially the main draw to Bellerín as opposed to Alderweireld is the price of Alderweireld’s alternatives. Spurs defenders who are likely to play are much cheaper than those of Arsenal. For example, Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny (the only Arsenal defenders 100% likely to play outside Bellerín) cost 6.0m, while those of Spurs can come in at just 5.5m. It may seem like a 0.5m swing is largely irrelevant, but in this year’s game could prove vital. Overall, Bellerín edges it for me, but I would suggest Spurs coverage in some capacity, with Kevin Wimmer an option at 5.0m.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RyanNevin7)