If your FPL team was a Roast Dinner, the £4.5m defenders would be the vegetables. In theory the worst part of your meal, not an indulgent treat like the Yorkshire Pudding or the main event like the beef or lamb on your plate but can’t really have a roast dinner without veg and as far as I can see, you can’t really have an FPL team without a £4.5m defender or two.
Today I’ll be looking at two £4.5 options from West Ham and Newcastle, Issa Diop and Jamaal Lascelles. Which one is worth leaving to one side like your boiled cabbage and which could become star of the show – honey roast parsnip anyone?
Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle, £4.5m)
Other than the recently reclassified Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles scored the most points out of any of his counterparts on the magpies’ back line. In fact, Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan was the only player priced £4.5m or less that outscored Lascelles in the 2018/19 season. This shouldn’t really come as a massive surprise to anyone, club captain in a defensive Rafa Benítez side a solid points total is to be expected. You might notice one pretty significant problem – this isn’t a Rafa Benitez side anymore.
I was originally in the mindset that a Benitez-less Newcastle wouldn’t necessarily spell doom for them but a Steve Bruce Newcastle paints an entirely different picture. Hardly famed for any kind of defensive football like his predecessor – or any kind of style of football for that matter, there’s an overriding low sense of belief in the Newcastle camp. This alone could be enough for me to recommend holding back, but there’s the fixtures too. Half of their opening 10 games are against 5 of last season’s Top 6, with 3 of those in their opening 5 games. It’s a rough start for the magpies and one that looks like it could be absent of league points, let alone clean sheets for Lascelles.
Issa Diop (West Ham, £4.5m)
Then there’s West Ham, who to call shaky at the back would be an understatement. With just 7 clean sheets last season, they only managed more than relegated sides Fulham and Huddersfield (with 5 each). However, with favourable fixtures to open the season with the reliable starter Issa Diop could quite easily find himself earning a rotation spot in your team.
This pick is almost purely reliant on West Ham’s fixtures, the stats don’t paint any kind of different picture for the hammers and their summer signings have so far only consisted of more attacking options rather than bolstering the back line. Perhaps Declan Rice’s development into a more established defensive midfielder will lead to a more cohesive defensive squad. It’s also worth remembering that one of his defensive partners, Balbuena missed a 13 game period through injury – West Ham only managed one clean sheet in that period.
It’s a tale of two £4.5m defenders, one of with a hint of pessimism and the other a dash of optimism. Both will still reliably for their respective teams and for their price, I’d put them both at best in class. It’s the West Ham pick that edges it for me though, he actually finds himself in my current Pre-Season draft with great fixtures I actually trust the defence more than I do say, Bournemouth, Brighton or even Newcastle. You won’t be playing him every week but he’s a solid side vegetable to your start of the season roast dinner.
Written by FPL Bandit (@FPLBandit)