Going into the start of the season on Friday I’m more than happy with my front 6. However having spent 35m on these positions I’m only left with 15m for my back line and goalkeeper. This is proving a real problem, with such a tight budget I’m struggling to form a defensive line up that I’m happy with.
At the moment I’ve got as far as this:
Pickford (Everton – 3m) – anyone who follows the blog closely will know I like to pick a keeper from the start of the season and stick with them. I’m not a fan of wasting transfers on keepers. At 3m Pickford looks like the best cheap option (3m or below). Everton should qualify for the Europa League and Pickford should be first choice. I’m aware Everton have a difficult start to the season but over the duration I think Pickford will score well relative to his low cost. Very happy with this choice and to ride out the early bad fixtures to save on future transfers.
Matip (Liverpool – 3.5m) – started with Clyne but then moved to Matip due to injury. This is purely for Liverpool coverage during the Champions League qualifying games in August. 2 extra games is a big bonus during the first month of the season and as a result I see some Liverpool defensive coverage as essential. I would go for a cheaper option such as Robertson or Alexander-Arnold but I can’t see either being regulars for the duration of the season. Again looking to avoid unnecessary transfers later down the line.
Valencia (Man Utd – 4m) – wanted some coverage of a defender playing in the Champions League. Out of all the teams involved Valencia seemed like the best value for money at 4m. I couldn’t find a certain regular starter at the same price from Chelsea, Spurs or Man City. Man Utd have also strengthened a lot over the summer and under Mourinho may be more than happy to take a 0 – 0 at times.
Having spent 10.5m of the 15m available at this stage, this is where I’ve started to run into difficulty. Ideally I’d like defenders who are first team regulars from the top clubs in the league and also featuring in Europe.
Ogbonna (West Ham – 1.5m) – purely because he’s so cheap and a lot of other people are selecting him. If he starts all season for West Ham, he could be a good option at his price to save budget for elsewhere. If he’s not a regular and needs replacing, this could become a real issue with no like for like swap obvious.
Martina (Everton – 2m) – on the assumption that Martina will be first choice to cover for Coleman. This is the position I have most doubt over. Firstly I’m not sure he will be first choice to cover and could be rotated with Holgate. Secondly, at some point it will be inevitable that he needs taking out. However on the flip side, should he be first choice right back until Coleman returns – at 2m it would be a bargain.
This would leave 1m in the bank for upgrading a 6m midfielder to Hazard or making some changes to any of the above later in August. All sounds good, so what is the issue?
Everton’s difficult start V two additional Europa League qualifiers
Since posting my updated team earlier in the week, I’ve had a lot of comments about doubling up on Everton defensively and that this is a risky move. In principle I agree, however it might be worth looking a little deeper.
Everton do have a difficult start, however here is their first four fixtures:
Europa League qualifier
Man City (A)
Europa League qualifier
Agree Man City away is a difficult fixture. However they will play four games in the first two weeks of the new season, whereas every other team will play two (other than Liverpool). Is having Pickford and Martina over these two weeks such a risk? They look to be taking the Europa League seriously so Martina could potentially get twice as many games as other defenders during these weeks. With 3 transfers available in August, he could then be transferred out for someone like Soares at Southampton who should then be fit. This would come BEFORE Everton’s run of very difficult games and will capture the Europa League qualifiers. To me the only risk is if Martina wasn’t to play in all four games, which is a big possibility. However, why take another right back if they aren’t going to play him?
I’m still completely undecided on this, I think it is a risk but it could pay off quite nicely. However I am currently considering other options:
Option 2 – as above without Martina
Stick with the team above, other than Martina. This would leave me 3m in the bank for my final defender. At this price I won’t get a regular starter who has European football. However there are some decent options available:
Soares (Southampton – 3m) – was my initial choice, however doesn’t look like he will be match fit in time for the new season. Even so, Southampton won’t be in Europe so it’s still not a choice that inspires confidence.
Any West Brom defender (3m or under) – West Brom have a decent start to the season and should be solid at the back. A safe bet would be any of their defenders who fit the price range and start on a regular basis.
Option 3 – forget about Pickford
We already know keepers score less points overall than other positions in the team. I’ve traditionally gone cheap on my keepers. I’ve been convinced Pickford was the way forward since the first day prices were announced. However I could downgrade to someone like Foster, which would free up an additional 0.5m. This doesn’t sound like a lot but it could pay off:
Foster (West Brom – 2.5m) – cheap first team regular in a side who may get the odd clean sheet. My issue is that I had him last season and he only managed 56 points.
Matip (Liverpool – 3.5m) – same reasons as above
Valencia (Man Utd – 4m) – same reasons as above
Ogbonna (West Ham – 1.5m) – same reasons as above
Davies (Spurs), Kompany (Man City), Kolasinac (Arsenal) or Williams (Everton) – as you can see dropping Pickford creates some fantastic options with all four available at 3.5m. This is a big step up compared to players at the 3m mark. All should have European fixtures.
Option 4 – risk it on cheap covering defenders from the top teams
There are a few options in terms of players covering for injuries or risks in terms of selection. This is a big risk if most of the players below don’t end up getting game time but it’s worth considering.
Pickford (Everton – 3m) – same reasons as above
Darmian (Man Utd – 3m) – played in the Super Cup at left back. Should he become a first team regular at 3m he would be an absolute bargain with Champions League football.
Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool – 2.5m) – should be certain to cover for the injured Clyne. However I understand Clyne is not likely to be sidelined for too long. Would need to be transferred out fairly quickly.
Davies (Spurs – 3.5m) – scored very well last season when covering for Rose. Should continue to cover for Rose in the short term but another that would need replacing in the long term.
Soares (Southampton – 3m) or any 3m defender who scored well last season – same reasons as above
I like the idea of not having Ogbonna and coverage from players from the top teams in the league with European football. However worse case scenario is that Darmian, Alexander-Arnold and Davies eventually lose their places and all need to be transferred out. This is a huge huge long term risk. I always aim for defenders who I won’t need to transfer out for the duration of the season.
With only a couple of days to go I’m still completely torn about which route to go down. At this stage I’m struggling to pick between options 1, 2 or 3 as they all have their advantages. I can’t see me risking option 4. When looking at the stats from last season I could well be just splitting hairs. Defenders tend to score much lower than other positions and either one of these options may well return a similar number of points regardless of which I go for.
This has become a fairly long post but if you’ve made it this far I’d appreciate any feedback in the comments section below.
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