With the start of the new Premier League season just days away, many of us are now finalising our FPL squads. Last year’s Champions, Chelsea, boasted 16 clean sheets (17 being the division-high) and as such, have some terrific defensive options which feature in many of these drafts.
Currently, David Luiz (22.4%) is the highest owned Chelsea defender, closely followed by last season’s second top-scoring FPL defender, Marcos Alonso (14.1%). Both players have their own relative merits and deserve consideration for your outfit.
Last season’s must-own defensive asset, Alonso amassed 177 FPL points in just 30 games (1 point every 15.2 minutes). With the FPL hierarchy pricing him at 7.0m, he’s now the costliest defender in the game. So how do we justify putting him in at that price?
Well, Alonso isn’t just noted for his defensive capabilities. In attacking play, Alonso essentially played as a left-winger in Conte’s fabled 3-4-3. He scored 6 goals and created 3 assists last season, a goal tally bettered only for defenders by James Milner, who took penalties for Liverpool.
So how does the Spaniard match up to the higher-owned Luiz? Not only showing significantly greater returns in the goal and assist columns, he scored better in all attacking areas; shots-per-game (1.5 vs 0.9) and key-passes (0.9 vs 0.3) being a key illustration of this. Moreover, his share (and execution) of free-kicks is another huge selling point, with pre-season demonstrating that this is still the case.
There does however remain a shadow over whether Chelsea will offer the same attacking intent without their talismanic Belgian, Eden Hazard – the link play between the two being a feature of their play last season. On the flip-side, Alonso scored against three of the teams he faces in the first five gameweeks (Everton, Leicester and Arsenal).
Currently the highest owned Chelsea defender, what David Luiz offers is a way into the defence for a cheaper fee (6.0m in FPL).
132 points was Luiz’s sum total in 2016/17, returning a point every 22.3 minutes – significantly less than Alonso having made more appearances (33 vs 30). In addition, Luiz does have a share of set pieces, particularly from distance. With this player however, it’s worth considering that his highest ever return is 2 goals in a season – a reputation for attacking points is somewhat skewed by flamboyant reputation. What Luiz does guarantee is a relatively certain start in a back three, offering access to clean sheets and a decent bonus-point return (10 vs 11 from Alonso last term).
If you’re confident that Chelsea will repeat the clean-sheet form of last season, then finding the extra money for Alonso is an absolute must. Effectively a midfielder with access to an extra 4 points-per-game, you could compare him with the likes of Willian (13.4 ppm) or Fabregas (11.07 ppm). The issue with these two players in the 7.0m bracket is their security in the side – Alonso having started 30 games last term (compared to 15 and 13 respectively) and still having amassed a higher shot-per-game ratio than both over that period.
Alonso was in my initial draft at the start of the summer and he will remain there for gameweek 1 against Burnley at Stamford Bridge. His selection is, of course, dependant on how you wish to balance your side – every team is set-up differently with priorities across a number of areas. Neglecting Alonso for a sustained period, however, may prove hugely detrimental to your tally.
Written by FPL SWOT (@FPLSWOT)