Sunday, July 12, 2009

Minimum price squad fillers - Defenders

The second installment of the minimum price squad fillers focuses on defenders, and I have set the limit at 4.5m. As the likes of Figueroa, Cahill and Turner proved last year, a budget defender can prove to be an invaluable sub, with the three aforementioned players being good enough to feature regularly for many teams.

Wigan defenders - Bramble, Figueroa, Melchiot, Scharner (all 4.5m). The Latics had the joint 7th best defense in the league last year and notched 8 clean sheets at home (all of which came in the final 14 games). No new defenders have arrived at the JJB to date and so we can assume the back four will remain as it was last year (with perhaps Sharner moving back into midfield and Boyce (4.5m) stepping in at the back). I therefore think all these four players are decent sub options, with possibly Bramble being the best value based upon his 17 bonus points last year.

Stoke defenders - Higginbottom, Shawcross, Faye (all 4.5m), Wilkinson (4m). As mentioned in the goalkeeper post, Stoke had a tremendous home defensive record last year, notching no less than 9 clean sheets. For this reason alone, Stoke defenders make great subs, so long as the matchup is right for when you need a replacement. I would not be as confident rolling out a Stoke defender on a weekly basis as a Wigan player, but with the right matchup, the Potters are definitely a good source of cheap defense. Faye, with three goals and 14 bonus points is probably the pick of the bunch, though Wilkinson provides great value at 4m, so long as he holds his place down in the lineup.

Ryan Nelsen (4.5m) - Blackburn's defense was pretty poor last year but they did improve under Allardyce, conceding just 26 in 21 games and keeping 8 clean sheets in the process. Nelsen signed a new 5 year deal at the club in July 2007 and started 35 league games last year. The Kiwi is inexplicably cheaper than his teammates, a recipe that always provides for good fantasy value. Nelsen also chalked an impressive 18 bonus points last year and even chipped in with a goal, both solid totals for a bargain basement player. Nelsen isn't going to win you the league, but he appears to be a decent sub option and Blackburn have a decent opening couple of months of fixtures.

Busts

Michael Turner (4.5m) - I fear that Hull may go the way of other small teams that stayed up (Bradford, Ipswich etc) and struggled in the second year. Hull had the second worst defense in the league last year (conceding 7 more than Boro who went down!) and no significant improvements have been made in the off season. To date, over 7% of all teams have selected Turner but his decent total of 122 from last year was inflated by 4 goals, a total which is unlikely to be replicated this year. His impressive bonus total (23) is valuable but if this dries up, Turner suddenly becomes a liability to have on the bench.

Armand Traore/Johan Djorou (4.5m) - I really like both these players and I believe they can both contribute to a top four team like Arsenal in the right situation. However, unfortunately for them, this year is not it. Traore was a revelation at times last season at Portsmouth but now he is back at the Emirates and stuck behind one of the best full backs in the league, Gael Clichy (6.5m). Unless another team, such as Birmingham, wraps up a loan deal for the Frenchman, his value this year will be limited. As for Djorou, his playing time will be limited by a new arrival, Thomas Vermaelen, who joins Arsenal from Ajax. With Toure, Gallas, Song and Silvestre, all still around, Djorou's playing time is going to be too sporadic to be a reliable fantasy producer.

Andy O'Brien/J'Lloyd Samuel (4.5m) - As a self-confessed Bolton fan, this may be a sub-conscious attempt at a reverse jinx, however, my faith in Bolton's defence and Megson as a whole has all but gone. Having kept 4 clean sheets in the first 11 games, Bolton then managed just 3 in remaining 27 games (against Wigan, Sunderland and Newcastle). No improvements have been made to the back line, and while Bolton probably won't ship 60+ goals, I cannot see too many clean sheets. If Cahill doesn't sign a new contract, and departs for Arsenal, then this team becomes even thinner and could even flirt with relegation.

Newly promoted teams - Of the three promoted sides, Birmingham had by far the strongest defense in the Championship, and may be worth some consideration. However, as with every year, the prospects of the promoted teams are hard to predict and I would probably advise holding off initially until we know more about how they will cope with life in the Premier League.

Who do you like as your squad fillers? Any hidden gems you think I have missed? As I always I look forward to hearing from you all.

1 comment:

TD Ocho said...

Good post. Wigan defenders will probably be duds at least to start the season though - their fixtures are a nightmare until October.