In the wake of the first Tottenham Hotspurs home game against Stoke in which they threw away a two goal lead the same questions over Spurs defensive record, especially at home, came into question. The Hype Train’s Chief Writer looks at whether or not the Spurs defence might just be the most overpriced in the Fantasy Premier League.
Let’s put something in context for a second and that is who FPL managers tend to bank on their defence, below is a table of the team clean sheets last season which sets the scene for this journey into the cracks of the Tottenham defence. The familiar faces are at the top and it is surprising to see a team in the top five so very, very low down.
(16) West Bromwich Albion
(14) Manchester City
(11) Manchester United
(10) Leicester City
(10) Aston Villa
(10) Hull City
(9) Stoke City
(9) West Ham United
(9) Tottenham Hotspur
(8) Newcastle United
(7) Crystal Palace
(6) Queens Park Rangers
Tottenham were ranked 16th based on the number of goals they conceded (53), and the average goals conceded per game was a ratio of 1.39, also the ranked 16th in the defensive league tables. Team clean sheets were also scares, and they always have been at Spurs, with them registering only nine in the 2014/15 season which falls as the 17th worst record as Stoke and West Ham who kept the same clean sheets conceded less goals, whilst finishing lower than Spurs in the table who finished fifth. What is so alarming about this is that Spurs are the only team in the top half in the bottom half of all statistics uncovered about their defensive frailty. Surrounded by the likes of a struggling Newcastle and Queens Park Rangers nobody was going to church to preach about their defensive exploits.
Harry Kane may have put the thought of having a Spurs defender into the back of your minds last term, but with a substantial rise in price for this season and a slow start to the season some managers are looking to Spurs defence as a source of points, powered by the belief that with some new additions they can be a mean defensive unit. The Hype Train looks at that unlikely possibility, and whether or not their defence might be the most obsolete out of any team in this year’s Fantasy Premier League.
Spurs Defenders (2014/15)
Most pundits and wise FPL brains will acknowledge that without Harry Kane their season could have been a disaster, his goals are irreplaceable and helps brush the defensive woes under the carpet of statistics. All FPL managers though are ruled by returns, and where and when they are coming. Consistency is key and Spurs have been chaos to that thinking, as you’ll find out in this article. Below is the Premier League table, notice how out of the top seven it is Spurs who failed in any way defensively last season. With a slow start this time round, and not much reinforcement to give players confidence, this could be a repeat of last season. Tottenham may keep a clean sheet this year, but FPL managers are looking at every fixture and saying: I can’t see it anytime soon.
Their two main defensive reinforcements have been Kieron Trippier who was in a relegated team last season, but by stats he is their best defender on paper and FPL managers are already scratching their heads over the inclusion of Kyle Walker who scored an own goal on the opening day of their campaign. Burnley conceded the same number of goals that Spurs did last term, the difference was the goals and output of Spurs heavily weighted attack, so Trippier was a better option in a worse team and that feels like the story of the Spurs defence. Danny Rose by figures was a better attacking option than Liverpool new-boy Nathaniel Clyne, with five goals and three assists he out-attacked two goal, two assist Clyne. Southampton kept a better defensive record, so even though Clyne wasn’t going to set the world alight it was the better option.
To a Spurs fan it is good seeing such attacking play at the expense of their defensive capabilities, to a neutral it opens games up for great counter attacking football, but to FPL managers it leaves only the shrewd reality that historically Spurs cannot guarantee returns in defence. That belief continues until this day.
Here is how the existing Spurs defenders faired last year. Bear in mind that Kaboul joined Sunderland (and look how that is panning out).
Danny Rose: 103pts – 27 FPL Starts
• 3 goals, 5 assists
• 6 clean sheets, 38 goals conceded
• 7 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Eric Dier: 93ts – 25 FPL Starts
• 2 goals – 3 assists
• 6 clean sheets – 37 goals conceded
• 4 yellow cards – 0 red cards
Jan Vertonghen: 90ts – 31 FPL Starts
• 1 goals – 0 assists
• 7 clean sheets – 44 goals conceded
• 6 yellow cards – 0 red cards
Federico Fazio: 50pts – 20 FPL Starts
• 0 goals – 0 assists
• 5 clean sheets – 27 goals conceded
• 2 yellow cards – 1 red card
Ben Davies: 31pts – 9 FPL Starts
• 0 goals – 1 assist
• 2 clean sheets – 12 goals conceded
• 3 yellow cards – 0 red cards
Kyle Walker: 27pts – 15 FPL Starts
• 0 goals – 1 assist
• 1 clean sheet – 24 goals conceded
• 3 yellow cards – 0 red cards
Vlad Chiriches: 20pts – 8 FPL Starts
• 0 goals – 0 assists
• 2 clean sheets – 11 goals conceded
• 2 yellow cards – 1 red card
DeAndre Yedlin: 1pt – 0 FPL Starts
• 0 goals – 0 assists
• 0 clean sheets – 0 goals conceded
• 0 yellow cards – 0 red cards
This does not show good reading for Spurs fans, or FPL managers, bar Yedlin who only made one substitute appearance it is proof that all Spurs defenders leak more goals than they can manage…based on stats and the likelihood of rotation the only way you’re going to secure point is by relying on their attacking defenders such as Danny Rose (of whom hasn’t even registered a point as the managers favours Ben Davies). If Spurs defence is going to follow the same path, and there are those very signs…is it worth it when better options are available at cheaper prices?
In comparison this is how the new defenders lined up in their respective teams Burnley and Southampton.
Kieron Trippier: 118pts – 38 FPL Starts
• 0 goals – 4 assists
• 10 clean sheets – 53 goals conceded
• 2 yellow cards – 0 red cards
Toby Alderweireld: 88pts – 26 FPL Starts
• 1 goals scored – 0 assists
• 9 clean sheets – 23 goals conceded
• 4 yellow red cards – 0 red cards
Clean Sheets (2014/15)
Spurs best run was between GW15 to GW 20 with three wins and two draws, and two clean sheets in both of the draws. They also had three wins between GW 22 and GW 24, but apart from that their form was patchy and uninspiring, FPL managers were frustrated last season as the transferred in players such as Eriksen and Chadli disappointed in an easy run of fixtures, and the defence faltered to pretty much anything that looked at Hugo Lloris.
Spurs couldn’t get a consistent run, in every five game stretch, bar the good run, they always lost a game, with draws and losses normally clustered together, then with a couple of home wins, the stats show a rollercoaster.
Home Games Won: 10
Home Games Drew: 3
Home Games Lost: 6
Home Clean Sheets: 5
Goals Scored: 31
Goals Conceded: 24
Goal Difference: +7
Away Games Won: 9
Away Games Drew: 4
Away Games Lost: 6
Away Clean Sheets: 4
Goals Scored: 27
Goals Conceded: 29
Goal Difference: -2
The clean sheets they achieved were as follows:
Gameweek 1: West Ham 0 – 1 Spurs
Gameweek 2: Spurs 4 – 0 QPR
Gameweek 7: Spurs 1 – 0 Southampton
Gameweek 15: Spurs 0 – 0 Crystal Palace
Gameweek 19: Spurs 0 – 0 Manchester United
Gameweek 23: West Brom 0 – 3 Spurs
Gameweek 31: Burnley 0 – 0 Spurs
Gameweek 37: Spurs 2 – 0 Hull City
Gameweek 38: Everton 0 – 1 Spurs
Clean Sheets (Total): 9
Clean Sheets (Home): 5
Clean Sheets (Away): 4
Clean Sheets (Wins): 6
Clean Sheets (Draws): 3
What is amazing here is that four of their nine clean sheets occurred in the first two, and last two gameweek’s, Spurs had started and finished strong in their patchy form last season. That means in the thirty four gameweek’s in between Spurs amassed an unimpressive five clean sheets, normally with long waits in between each one. The frightening thing for Spurs fans that go to their home games is that they watched their team concede in fourteen games, White Hart Lane had become a ground that left any team feeling confident.
To add to their troubles, and as a consequence to FPL managers who banked on their defence, is that last year that against the other teams in the top six they only kept one clean sheet all year (Manchester United). Further to this, Spurs couldn’t repeat the feat of a clean sheet against the same team in the opposite fixture. Spurs defence were figured out by every single team in the league. We’ll repeat that, every single team found them out sooner or later. The facts here are that every single team knows how to score against them, so why would you bank with a defence that is essentially the same in the 2015/16 Premier League season.
Without the good start this year, FPL managers are asking: are Spurs defenders a thing of the past?
Spurs Defenders (2015/16)
Tottenham’s summer recruitment may not be over, their priority is a new forward to partner Kane, but their defence looks ‘settled’, with enough defenders to cope with both Premier League and Europa League demands. Spurs defence looks similar to last terms, but with a few new additions they have only added. Only Vlad Chiriches from the list below is the only defender we expect to leave the club before the transfer window closes.
Eric Dier – CB/RB/CDM – £5.0
Ben Davies – LB – £4.5
Toby Alderweireld – CB/RB - £5.0
Jan Vertonghen – CB – £5.5
Kyle Walker – RB – £5.0
DeAndre Yedlin – RB – £4.5
Kieron Trippier – RB – £5.5
Federico Fazio – CB – £5.0
Kevin Wimmer – CB – £5.0
Danny Rose – LB – £5.5
Vlad Chiriches – CB/RB – £4.5
At the moment the defence that has been chosen is Kyle Walker at right-back, showing his pedigree with an own goal against Manchester United, in the centre is the Belgian pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, with Welshman Ben Davies getting the nod over Danny Rose at left-back. Oddly they have been playing Eric Dier at the defensive midfield position to begin the season, meaning that every game they currently have five defensive options playing in each game, that is half the team playing, yet there is such a lack of confidence in them to offer returns.
Here is a breakdown of the lack of confidence in their defenders, based on the percentage of defenders of which have been selected by FPL managers, this list is correct as of the 17th August 2015:
Toby Alderweireld – 7.8%
Danny Rose – 3.3%
Jan Vertonghen – 2.6%
Eric Dier – 1.5%
Kieron Trippier – 1.9%
Kyle Walker – 1.1%
Ben Davies – 0.5%
DeAndre Yedlin – 0.2%
Federico Fazio – 0.1%
Kevin Wimmer – 0.1%
Vlad Chiriches – 0.1%
All of their defenders, bar former Saints man Toby Alderweireld, are defined as simply a wildcard option. Understandably we won’t be adding any Spurs defenders to our weekly picks; instead we will focus on their attackers as that is where we believe the points to be. We are not alone in thinking that Spurs are bound to finish lower than last season. Other teams have become more competitive and made better signings, Swansea are pushing to improve as are Crystal Palace, and Liverpool have spent yet more money in bringing some heavy hitters to Merseyside. Spurs fans are worried, we are worried, and FPL managers are worried. Spurs are the biggest question mark in the league at the moment.
Defensive Value Test
The Hype Train is running the first defensive value test, and bear in mind of everything you have read so far. No positives have arrived, only sporadic results and a warning to be cautious of Spurs defenders. Here, we rank the cost of their defenders in a league table. Tottenham’s defense is arguably one of the most unnecessarily expensive, so we are putting that to the test.
First of all we look at their current defensive value, based on their starting eleven.
Tottenham: Davies (4.5), Vertonghen (5.5), Alderweireld (5.0), Walker (5.0): £20.0
Now this is where we test what could happen once Trippier and Rose break into the team, of which they will. This defensive value test is meant to incorporate the best and most likely line-ups for Premier League defences. Please note that people who have been put on the injury list for more than five weeks have not been included, such as Ryan Shawcross (STK) and Leighton Baines (EVE).
Chelsea: Ivanovic (7.0), Terry (7.0), Cahill (6.5), Azpilicueta (6.0): £26.5
Everton: Baines (6.5), Jagielka (5.5), Stones (5.5), Coleman (6.0): £23.5
Manchester City: Kolarov (5.5), Kompany (6.1), Mangala (5.5), Zabaleta (6.0): £23.1
Manchester United: Darmian (5.6), Smalling (6.1), Blind (5.5), Shaw (5.5): £22.7
Arsenal: Monreal (5.5), Mertesacker (5.5), Koscielny (6.0), Bellerin (5.5): £22.5
Tottenham: Rose (5.5), Vertonghen (5.5), Alderweireld (5.0), Trippier (5.4): £21.4
Liverpool: Clyne (5.5), Skrtel (5.5), Lovren (5.0), Gomez (4.6): £20.6
Southampton: Soare (5.0), Yoshida (4.5), Fonte (5.5), Bertrand (5.5): £20.5
West Ham: Creswell (5.5), Reid (5.0), Ogbonna (5.0), Jenkinson (5.0): £20.5
Swansea: Taylor (5.0), Williams (5.0), Fernandez (5.0), Naughton (5.0): £20.0
West Brom: Lescott (5.0), Olsson (4.5), McAuley (5.0), Dawson (5.0): £19.5
Crystal Palace: Souare (4.5), Dann (5.0), Delaney (4.5), Ward (4.5): £19.5
Aston Villa: Bacuna (5.0), Richards (4.5), Clark (4.5), Amavi (5.0): £19.0
Newcastle: Haidara (4.5), Mbemba (5.0), Colocinni (4.5), Janmaat (5.0): £19.0
Stoke: Pieters (5.0), Cameron (4.5), Muniesa (4.5), Johnson (5.0): £19.0
Norwich: Whittaker (4.5), Martin (4.5), Bassong (4.5), Brady (5.5): £19.0
Leicester: Schlupp (5.0), Morgan (4.5), Huth (4.5), de Laet (4.5): £18.5
Sunderland: van Aanholt (5.0), Kaboul (4.5), Coates (4.5), Jones (4.5): £18.5
Bournemouth: Daniels (4.5), Elphick (4.5), Cook (4.5), Francis (4.5): £18.0
Watford: Cathcart (4.5), Prodl (4.5), Layun (4.5), Nyom (4.5): £18.00
The Fantasy Premier League wants you to believe that Spurs have the 6th best defense in the league, and that its players are of high value because they are worth investing in. We believe this is a huge oversight on their part, considering their defence was the sixteenth worst in the league last year. Harry Kane separated them from the ranks of struggling and achievement. All of the Spurs defenders have a value of over five million in the core valuation, a bloated figure that appears based more off league standings than defensive standings. The five teams above them in this value test are stand-outs, although we believe that Everton’s standings are still too high and in relation to the Luis Suarez year a few seasons ago now. The value of the teams around Spurs, especially Liverpool who obtained five more team clean sheets than Spurs accomplished, are higher in consideration than that of Vertonghen and co.
Safe choices always include the top four, Liverpool represent a great value for defenders when they go on a great run of form. West Brom, Sunderland, and Stoke represent great value in the middle of the table, and if Sunderland sorts out their problems then they can regain a formidable defensive status and might be the best options out of the bottom ten.
We are aware that you will never have more than one or two defenders from each team in your squads, this reflects on the fantasy value of the defenders in the FPL. The value for Spurs seems to be completely unrelated to their defensive form, whilst teams such as West Brom and Everton have huge price hikes in defenders for good defensive runs. Tottenham’s defenders are a true anomaly in the FPL, an ultimate wildcard, but also a banana peel on the racetrack.
Mauricio Pochettino has one of the biggest missions in FPL history: turn the most overpriced defensive options into valuable and consistent point’s returns for FPL managers. The Hype Train wants you to go away having a better understanding over the concerns faced by even contemplating Spurs defenders, real concerns that affect team selections.
Put it like this, to have just one Spurs defender in your team might mean not having marquee defender in your team from any other team in the league. Many managers do not see value in defence, and to the better part they are correct as they are the riskiest options. Combine this risk, with the risk of never keeping a clean sheet, and that’s essentially doubling down on wanting to fail as an FPL manager. These are harsh words, and they have to be, part of the mission statement at The Hype Train is to help uncover some of the myths and decisions of FPL managers to better their chances, and our honest verdict is that every Spurs defender is a black hole to be avoided at all cost. Even Eric Dier playing in midfield is a massive rotation risk with Spurs interchangeable midfield and Europa League campaign. The season is still young but there are options from every team that offer to yield more points, Pochettino could turn this all around but be had last season to at least try and yet we are still asking the same questions. Every team in the Premier League has been asking that question for a long time. The facts don’t make fun reading for anything; only for your potential striker or midfield options should you opt to bank your money against the Spurs defenders.
With two unassured defensive displays to kick off the season we are unsure of when the first Spurs clean sheet will be, nobody is, that is why in the land of the Fantasy Premier League they are the equivalent of an oversized twenty-four carat golden bucket with a sizeable hole at the bottom, unable to retain those precious FPL points.