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We’re in to the final stretch of the Premier League season, which means FPL managers are now putting together their strategies for a strong finish as they attempt to climb the overall rankings or their mini-leagues.
By this stage in the season, many managers will be looking for the big differential picks in order to gain a late advantage over other FPL managers, as the big-hitting players are owned by the majority of other FPL players.
So looking for the value players with low ownership is so important, now more than ever, if you want to give your FPL team a late boost in the final eight gameweeks.
While most of the value and FPL points scoring has come from midfielders this season, there are still defenders and goalkeepers who have a lot of potential, especially in the next few weeks, and it would be a mistake not to have a long, hard think about how to make the most of what’s out there.
So we’re taking a look at three defensive pairings you should consider for your FPL team for at least the next three gameweeks so that you can be sure to have your mini-league title wrapped up sooner rather than later…
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.3m) & Nat Phillips (£4.0)
Liverpool’s title defence has been embarrassing to say the least, and there has been little evidence up to this point to put any faith in their defensive assets for your FPL team.
However, they have kept back-to-back Premier League clean sheets for the first time this season, having won 1-0 at Wolves and 3-0 at Arsenal, with both Alexander-Arnold and Phillips instrumental in those results from a defensive standpoint.
While Trent is the most expensive defender in FPL this season, he still has pretty low ownership of just 14%, Phillips arguably has the best value of all defenders in the game at this point in the season – he costs just £4.0m and is owned by just 1.6% of FPL managers.
Due to the Reds’ ongoing injury crisis, Phillips is currently a regular starter and has played the full 90 minutes of Liverpool’s last five Premier League games.
Liverpool’s next three fixtures are Aston Villa (H), Leeds (A) and Newcastle (H), so there is potential for more clean sheets there, despite their awful home record this term, especially as they still have a realistic chance of salvaging a top four finish in the final eight games of the campaign.
Timothy Castagne (£5.7m) & Kasper Schmeichel (£5.4m)
Leicester City are on the verge of a top-four finish and probably only need to win two or three of their remaining eight games to clinch a return to the Champions League next season.
While FPL managers have rightly prioritised Leicester’s more attacking assets this season, it would be wrong to write-off their defensive options for your FPL team as they approach a very important run of fixtures.
Brendan Rodgers has recently suffered with some defensive injuries and issues, which has led to a change in tactics as avoids having his pants pulled down for second consecutive top-four bid, most recently opting for five at the back against Man City. This allows Brendan Rodgers to get the most out of his wing-backs, with summer signing Timothy Catagne looking like a very tempting option.
The Belgium international has had an injury-hit first season in the Premier League but is beginning to get back to his best form, having played the full 90 minutes in each of the Foxes’ six fixtures, although they have only kept one clean sheet in that time. Adding to that, he is owned by just 4% of FPL bosses.
Despite that, Leicester face top-four rivals West Ham (A), West Brom (H) and Crystal Palace (H) in their next three outings, with the Hammers arguably providing the biggest threat to their goal.
Schmeichel has kept 10 clean sheets this season, this fifth most in the Premier League, one of which came against the Baggies on the opening day of the season.
The Dane is Leicester’s fourth highest FPL points scorer in 2020/2021 with 115 and is only owner by 9.6% of FPL managers, which makes him an interesting and attractive option for the next few gameweeks at the very least.
Aaron Cresswell (£5.9m) & Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m)
The Hammers are having an outstanding season, with a top four finish a real possibility heading in to the final eight games of the campaign. However, there are some fears that they may have already blown their load as injuries to key players begin to threaten a strong and powerful finish.
While the likes of Jesse Lingard, Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio have been important to that, West Ham’s defenders have played just a crucial role in their transformation from relegation candidates to Champions League hopefuls.
Three of their top five FPL scorers are defenders, while Aaron Cresswell is the highest scoring defender in FPL this season with 136 FPL points to his name.
Cresswell, while owned by a huge 28.5% of FPL managers, has 10 assists, 10 clean sheets and 20 FPL bonus points to his name after 30 games and is a huge points scorer for any FPL team as managers prepare for the run-in.
Also in the Hammers’ defence, summer-signing Vladimir Coufal has been a revelation at right-back since joining the club, registering five assists, eight clean sheets and 9 FPL bonus points.
West Ham face Leicester (H), Newcastle (A) and Chelsea (H) in their next three games and, while those fixtures don’t scream clean sheets on paper, the Hammers have often surprised people in big games, with Cresswell and Coufal often involved in the build-up to attacks.
If those three fixtures don’t whet your appetite the West Ham still have to face the likes of Burnley (A), Brighton (A), West Brom (A) and Southampton (H) before the end of the season, which makes Cresswell and Coufal a little more attractive.