Can a defensive triple up be effective?

Last updated on February 27th, 2020

Written by Jønathan Kahn. You can catch him on twitter @jkisthe1. Kahn has ranked as high as 105th on the All-Time FPL Manager list!

The premise is quite simple. If you have a defensively solid team, go and get three of their defenders (or two and the keeper) save the worries on defensive rotations and guarantee at least 12 points every week (maybe even more, some have been known to take their entire defence from 2 teams). This proved to be a very effective method in the past with the likes of Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce offering solid defences with little attacking output, but can it still be a valid strategy now?

For me, the answer is still the same, it depends on the team. For example, though a triple up on Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Virgil Van Dijk (or Alisson or Joe Gomez) looks tremendous value as Liverpool rack up clean sheets, it means that you rule out buying either of Sadio Mane or Mo Salah, both of whom are likely to be amongst the leading league goal scorers and most highly captained each week. So although you could get that 12 point guarantee you run the risk of missing out on even more than that by depriving yourself of both of these options.

But take Sheffield United for example. They have registered nine clean sheets this season whilst their top scorer has just five goals. A triple up of Dean Henderson, the, now fallen, Lord John Lundstram and one other would likely have proved more effective than taking an attacker. Even now it could still be effective with another defender taking up the spot Lundstram used to fill, especially as the defenders at Sheffield United are all pretty attacking, particularly the wing-backs, who have six goals and four assists between them.

So, it might seem like a cop-out, but the answer as to whether a defensive triple up can be effective is simply that it depends on the team. If the team has good attacking options who look good as a captaincy pick then it is likely to not be worth it, despite the value argument. But in other cases, it might be the best route. The Sheffield United defenders cost around the same as the attackers and yet seven of their top eight points scorers so far are defenders and the goalkeeper, meaning there are much better Points per million from the defenders than from the midfielders or forwards.

Mark De Carvalho
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