Time to lead from the back? Fantasy football tips

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September 23, 2021
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    Alistair Bruce-Ball

    I was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday to watch Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea dismantle their London rivals and in the process keep their fourth clean sheet in five Premier League games.

    Thiago Silva was masterful, Antonio Rudiger a rock and Marcos Alonso was just everywhere. To cap it off, Silva scored – from Alonso's inswinging corner – and Rudiger also found the net. It all meant that Silva garnered 15 points, Rudiger 14 and Alonso 10.

    The only goal they've conceded in the league so far this season has been a penalty at Anfield, their defence is yet to be breached in open play.

    Apart from Romelu Lukaku those defenders are the Chelsea players you trust the most to consistently deliver the big scores and that's why I think you should be looking at getting two of them into your squad before the big fixture swing in gameweek seven – after hosting Manchester City this weekend Chelsea face Southampton (h), Brentford (a), Norwich (h), Newcastle (a) and Burnley (h).

    I am going to have to use my first wildcard to do that and am planning on switching Ronaldo for Lukaku, in the process keeping Mohamed Salah as my second 'premium' player. That will be a difficult call to make if Ronaldo scores for a third consecutive game against Aston Villa this weekend but Manchester United's fixtures get tougher at precisely the same time that Chelsea head into their more favourable run.

    If you can't wait and you're playing your wildcard this week, then don't forget you will still have a free transfer the following week – so you could potentially hang on to Ronaldo for the home game against Aston Villa while Lukaku faces Manchester City and then make the switch in gameweek seven.

    Chelsea Marcos AlonsoChelsea's Marcos Alonso has started every Premier League game so far this season

    I would still recommend getting your two Chelsea defenders in, though, if you're playing the wildcard this week – you could stick one of them on the bench rather than risking the double-up against City, although you still wouldn't bet against them delivering another clean sheet.

    Rudiger and Alonso are the two who have started every Premier League game so far and at the moment Alonso is less of a rotation risk than Reece James. That's despite the fact that James' 18-point haul at Arsenal showed his huge points potential in any game he starts.

    But the point is they're a better bet than Chelsea's midfielders right now and with all the focus on Ronaldo and Lukaku for the past couple of weeks, we may have forgotten just how valuable those defenders really are.

    The top teams' defences are dominating this season – Liverpool and Manchester City, just like Chelsea, have only conceded one goal apiece so far – so it really is worth spending some money at the back.

    Trent Alexander-Arnold is a must in any fantasy football team for me while at City your two top picks are Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo, both of whom are ever-presents in the league.

    If you were to go with all four of Alexander-Arnold, Dias, Rudiger and Alonso, then that is eating up almost a quarter of your budget but their form and scores this season justify the outlay and you can easily find the bargains you need in midfield and up front.

    Ismaila Sarr is a great example of that at £6.1m. If you jumped at that opportunity before Watford's trip to Norwich last week, then you'll be feeling extremely satisfied with his 15-point haul.

    Sarr's next two games are home to Newcastle and away at Leeds, so you could easily save yourself a bit of money by bringing him in for someone such as Ferran Torres or Mason Greenwood when you know that the Watford man is almost guaranteed to start and might bring an equivalent goal threat.

    Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.7m) and Ivan Toney (£6.3m) fall into that category up front if you were to choose them ahead of, say, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Danny Ings – and both really caught the eye with their performances in gameweek five. Saint-Maximin definitely has the kinder fixtures coming up and also has a slightly lower ownership than Toney if you're looking for a little bit of differential against your rivals.

    As for the captaincy, I think it's safe to assume that the most popular choices in gameweek six will be Ronaldo at home to Aston Villa and Salah away at Brentford.

    Meanwhile, despite our attempts on the Fantasy 606 podcast this week to persuade him to sell, Chris Sutton says he'll be giving Harry Kane the armband as he goes looking for his first league goals of the season in the north London derby at Arsenal on Sunday.

    Alistair Bruce-Ball presents the Fantasy 606 podcast alongside the former Premier League winner Chris Sutton and Statman Dave. The latest episode is available on the BBC Sounds App.

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