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Defenders have revolutionised the modern game, with attacking full-backs becoming cheat codes in FPL in recent seasons. It’s now time to rethink our fantasy squad balance and formation, putting those defenders front and centre with some big premium options.
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Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) is justifiably the most expensive defender in the game, with 14 goal involvements last season. He rose in price to finish at £8.4m last season, so it’s a surprise to see his price frozen for this campaign.
Alexander-Arnold created more chances (90) than any other player in the Premier League last season, regardless of position. He’s an integral part of the Liverpool defence that kept 21 clean sheets last campaign, alongside team-mate Andrew Robertson (£7.0m).
Robertson comes in slightly cheaper, but did match Alexander-Arnold for attacking returns last season (14). He’s ranked fourth for fantasy points scored in 2022 so far, with 117. Only Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne can better that tally.
Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo (£7.0m) is also a fine fantasy option: he played more minutes than any other outfield City player last campaign. He amassed one goal, 11 assists and 19 clean sheets to break the 200-point barrier.
Sticking with Manchester City, Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) provides a route into that defence at a cheaper price. Laporte scored four goals last season and netted two assists, benefiting from De Bruyne’s excellent dead-ball deliveries.
Chelsea’s wing-backs Reece James (£6.0m) and Ben Chilwell (£6.0m) posted outstanding attacking numbers last campaign. James matched the Liverpool full-backs for attacking output from significantly fewer minutes.
Chilwell was on a hot streak in the early phase of last season before picking up a significant knee injury. He finished as the best regular in terms of points per game and could be a big contender, although there are rumours Tuchel will switch to a flat back four this season, which could hamper their output.
Ivan Perisic (£5.5m) has seen plenty of traction this pre-season, having been bought by Antonio Conte to play left wing-back: a position he knows well under Conte having first played with him at Inter.
He has been absent from some pre-season training sessions and matches, so fitness issues are a concern, but should he get minutes he will be an excellent FPL option. We’ve seen Spurs wing-backs accumulate plenty of attacking returns since Conte took over.
When we look down the pricing to those at £5.0m there are some standouts: Kieran Trippier and Matty Cash. Trippier dominates set-pieces for Newcastle United, who look to further strengthen their squad under their new owners. They were among the top defensive performers since Eddie Howe took charge.
Cash scored four goals and made three assists last season: impressive numbers for this price point. Aston Villa have a kind run of opening fixtures, with plenty of clean sheet potential.
Delving further down the pricing, Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.5m) is a favourite pick. It’s a great price to get into the Arsenal defence and the great fixtures mean that he’s viable as a starter every week, just don’t expect too many attacking returns.
Another side with attractive opening fixtures is Wolves, with Jonny (£4.5m) versatile playing in the wing-back role on either flank. Wolves are a low-scoring side, who keep things tight defensively.
Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) and James Justin (£4.5m) have come in at great prices for Brighton and Leicester respectively. Both have mixed fixtures but you can have them as your fourth and fifth defenders, playing each one for their better fixtures.
Dunk scored five goals the season before last and Justin was one of the players of the season during that campaign, before his unfortunate injury. Neco Williams (£4.0m) could be the bargain buy for our fantasy benches, after joining Nottingham Forest from Liverpool.