We’re only six gameweeks into the season, but the FPL meta has already shifted. The popular 5-4-1/4-4-2 formations used at the start of the season are no longer as effective.Embed from Getty Images
A big reason for this is the rise of the budget strikers. Players like Haller/Barnes/Abraham – and who can forget the King of football Teemu Pukki. They’ve scored a combined 14 goals this season – a very impressive tally.
Combine this with the success of the premium options – Aubameyang and Agüero have also reached a combined 14 goals, by themselves – means that we have to adapt and start looking to the attack.
Even the players that no-one expected to be worth their price tag, like Callum Wilson and Firmino, both have 7 goal involvements this season.
So it’s fair to say, attackers this season have given players a lot of good value. Ideally, you’d want to shift away from the Wickhams and the Greenwoods to get all three strikers into your team – two budget and one premium is probably the best distribution.
This means taking money out of somewhere else in your team, and as I’ll go on to explain later, I think you should downgrade the defence.
Now let’s look at it from the other perspective. Of the top 15 point scorers this season, none of them are defenders. So although at the start most people went 4 at the back, with double Liverpool and Digne – now it’s important to adapt if you want to maximise points and climb to the top of your mini-leagues.
There have been 29 clean sheets this season, in 60 matches. However, each match has two possibilities of a clean sheet (one for each team), so there’s been 29 successful clean sheets out of 120 possible ones. This equates to roughly 25%, which isn’t extremely high.Embed from Getty Images
Add this to the fact Liverpool only have 1 clean sheet, Digne hasn’t gotten one in 4 games, and Laporte is injured/ Zinchenko has been dropped, and it’s clear to see that change is needed for our FPL sides.
If there’s one thing I want you to take from this, it’s that I would strongly recommend the 3-4-3 formation. But at the same time, only do it if the opportunity arises, don’t take unnecessary hits, and also don’t sell good players just for the sake of buying strikers.
With that being said, now it’s time for my defensive suggestions, and which players to put in each slot:
- Slot 1: Trent Alexander Arnold – Liverpool may only have one clean sheet, but this man is an absolute gem. Until last week when City battered Watford 8-0, TAA was averaging the highest number of key passes per game in the premier league. Yes, he’s £7.0m. But for that you get access to Liverpool’s set pieces, and they’ve scored 34 goals from set-pieces since the start of last season, 7 more than the next highest side. TAA will also score goals, as is evident from his wonder-strike against Chelsea. Finally, Liverpool will, eventually, start keeping clean sheets. They’ve only conceded 5 goals, the lowest of any team in the PL. Unfortunately, that’s been spread out over five games.
- Slot 2: Otamendi/Mendy – Who can forget Mendy at the start of last season. Him, Robertson, and Marcus Alonso were THE defenders to go with. RAM! Much has changed since then, and the main difference for Mendy is that he’s been injured for most of the year. However, the man is back. He’s already displaced Zinchenko in the team (poor Zinch), but the only question for you to decide is whether he’s back for good, or will just get injured again. Also, with Walker/Cancelo/Zinch on the bench, will he get the start every game? If you wanna be a bit safer, AND save money at the same time, go for Nicky Otamendi. He’s not only got the clean sheet potential, but as he showed us against Watford (1G 1A), he’s got threat in the box.
- Slot 3: Lundstram – Highest value player in the game (7.4 points per million). He’s a midfielder who’s been somehow classed as a defender. Basically this means every time Sheffield get a CS and Lundstram is involved in a goal, he’ll get 3 bonus points. Top scoring defender in the game, not much more needs to be said.
- Slot 4: Soyuncu/Pereira – Now, this is where you can start to get creative. Personally, I look at the run of fixtures and see that Leicester have one of the best. Lots of home games, starting with Newcastle next week. They’re also most likely the best team outside the top 6. I think for these last two slot it really depends on the rest of your team. If you need funds, go for two 4.5m defenders. If you already have double Leicester but you aren’t confident in them, don’t triple up! But if I had to predict a team to do well defensively in the next 5-10 GWs, I’d say Leicester.
- Slot 5: Any budget defender – If you’re going 3 at the back, this player will likely spend a lot of time on the bench so don’t invest too heavily. Options include: Diop, Rico, Dunk, Engels, Mings, Pieters, Tomori, etc.
Overall, I’d say go for whoever you have the most confidence in to perform.
For example, even though I’m seeing more and more Auriers in teams, I don’t have confidence that he’ll start or that Spurs will get clean sheets.
Additionally, remember, 3-4-3 may be the most effective now, but you’ve probably seen first hand how quickly the meta can shift. Defences will get more solid as the players get used to playing together, and strikers like Barnes and Haller (but not Pukki!) will go through dry spells, so it’s important to keep a balance and be open to adapting quickly – this is what separates the best from the rest!