Playing the slots: Is it wise to double up on Liverpool and City defence?

10/08/2018 Planet FPL

A slight change of pace this week inspired by the talk of Virgil van Dijk double up with Andy Robertson on episode 72 of the podcast, the continued depressing nature of Manchester United’s pre-season and @fpl_fitballer superb article.


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There has been a lot of talk about people looking at owning both Van Dijk and Robertson, or both Liverpool fullbacks. There has also been a lot of talk of having a set and forget keeper of Ederson and a 4.0 million keeper as well as Laporte and Mendy being trendy picks in the FPL community. All the players mentioned are fine players individually and will all likely have great points scoring seasons.

My only reservation on owning two Manchester City or Liverpool goalkeepers or defenders in the loss of a slot for an attacking player, and the lack of flexibility coming off two. If you own two Liverpool defenders you are only owning one of Mane, Salah, Firmino. If you own Ederson set and forget and Mendy you’re looking at two or three transfers to then change your mind and own say De Bruyne and Aguero.

With that in mind, I researched the numbers from last season of Liverpool and Manchester City to see what the numbers were. I have only researched these two clubs for a few reasons. These are the two best-attacking clubs who also have multiple defensive assets that people would be desperate to have. Also, Manchester City and Liverpool are bookmakers’ favourites for the top two spots and indeed finished first and second in the predictions on the podcast on episode 73. As such it seems likely that these two will provide the most triple ups to our fantasy teams.

Chelsea and Arsenal also have new managers who are likely to change the emphasis of their clubs.

Tottenham have only Trippier owned at over 10 per cent in the defensive positions. Liverpool has four players – Allison, Alexander Arnold, Van Dijk, Robertson who are all owned at 15 per cent. Manchester City has five defensive players at around the ten per cent owned mark. Tottenham is also suffering from more latecomers from the World Cup than either City or Liverpool.

I’ve not looked into Manchester United’s stats as the likelihood of having two or three attackers is unlikely and most teams would benefit from having two or three Manchester United defenders.

I have not considered any club outside of the top 6 as a triple up option as I would say most teams outside of the top six are only triple up options for budget, bench fodder reasons i.e. Wolves and Crystal Palace rather than a belief they will dominate matches in all areas.

The below table shows the percentage chance of two and three goalkeepers and defenders getting a return and the chance of two or three attackers getting a return based on last season’s results. I have only included Liverpool’s stats from the Van Dijk signing date as this was a significant purchase and coincided with Andy Robertson becoming a regular making the stats more relevant for this season. The attacking stats are from the same period due to the sale of Coutinho to Barcelona.

As you can see you’re almost twice as likely to get two Man City players with attacking returns as two defensive returns! You are as likely to get three attacking Liverpool returns as you are defensively and you are 13 per cent more likely to get two returns from attack than you are from defensive players. With these numbers in mind it seems more prudent to use only one of your three Liverpool or Manchester City slots on a defender so you can have at least two attackers in or at least the option to go to two. Especially when Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham all have similar priced defensive players with the same ability to get clean sheets.

What I haven’t taken into consideration here, of course, is that defenders are cheaper but there are two things to consider with that. Firstly as @fpl_fitballer suggested if you have price points pre-set in your team you might be better if filling the £6.0 million slot with a Manchester United defender than a Liverpool or City one. Secondly the downside to double defence is that it only takes a 2 goal conceded and a booking and you’ve wasted 12 million to get 0 points whereas most forwards or midfielders at least pick up a few points even on an off day, the forwards and midfielders are also more likely to get double-figure hauls and are better captaincy options.

I am not by any means saying that owning two Liverpool or Man City defenders is a bad tactic but do be wary of not owning two or three of their attacking players at a time and the struggle and cost in transfers required if you decide to come off two defenders. Hopefully this article is of use and if you disagree with me and only have one Liverpool or City attacker in I wish you all the best – just don’t get over sensitive in your WhatsApp group when everyone else owns Aguero, Sane and de Bruyne and make sure you have a nice sofa to hide behind when the Salah, Mane, Firmino show begins.