Lessons Learnt from the World Cup: Part 2 - Defence

Following our earlier article on attacking players, our attention now turns to the less glamorous but equally important defensive players as we scope out which Premier League players made an impact in the World Cup.

Tim Howard

Howard put a few doubts over his league performances this year behind him with a tremendous display in the World Cup, which included a heroic performance where he made a record 15 saves in a thrilling match for the USA. After a few mistakes this season Everton fans were beginning to wonder whether Howard was reaching the end of his career, and if it was time for a change between the sticks. His summer performances may allay any such fears and give Howard himself the confidence to go into the new season determined to show that he is still a top keeper. He may have also dispelled any thoughts Martinez had of bringing in a new keeper - it’s unlikely we’ll see Robles contest Howard as first choice at the start of the season. From a fantasy perspective, managers still have to consider whether Howard is worth it when Coleman and Baines offer such a large attacking benefit over the keeper, but given the right price, and £5.5M is a good price, it would be madness not to at least consider him after the tournament he’s just had.

Per Mertesacker

Not so much a lesson learnt - more a lesson rammed home. Mertesacker completed 93% of his passes, completing 57.4 per game. That level of involvement and those passing stats are the sort of numbers that saw him rack up so many bonus points last season. Expect the Arsenal defender to continue in the same vein and pick up 2 or bonus points whenever Arsenal keep clean sheets. Dejan Lovren also did well in the passing category; a move to Liverpool would certainly put him on many people’s radar as a good pick up at £5.5m.

Ron Vlaar

An outstanding tournament from the Dutchman will have alerted many to his potential as a fantasy prospect. “Roncrete” Vlaar was the Netherland’s rock at the back as he lead them to a 3rd place finish, playing every minute of their 7 games. He also chalked up an impressive 91% pass completion rate, which will contribute to those all-important bonus points. It’s dangerous to say this will be the making of Vlaar, as it’s clear that having better teammates around him improved his performances. However, it does show Vlaar is capable of stepping up and being a bigger player for his club in the coming season. The 3 at the back system clearly brought the best out of him, and seeing as it a formation that Lambert has flirted with before, Vlaar’s performances may well prompt his manager to really make the most of the 3-4-3 this year.Vlaar spent most of last season at the £4.5 price point, which made him slightly too expensive to be a true budget player, but was still a solid option for much of the season. Handed the same price tag this term he proving to be one of the most popular cheap defenders , currently selected in 27% of early FPL squads.

Mathieu Debuchy

A good tournament for France and having joined a few of his compatriots at Arsenal Debuchy has leapt firmly onto fantasy radars at £5.5M. Likely to start at RB ahead of Jenkinson, Debuchy is walking into one of the best defensive teams from last season and carries a lot of attacking potential with him. At Newcastle last season he created 23 chances and despite only scoring once had a notable 13 shots on target. As far as defenders go, only Coleman, who of course more and he ended up with 6 goals last season. Whilst he didn’t score for France at the World Cup, he did have a pop at goal whenever a chance arose. Few defenders have the same attacking instincts as Debuchy, and a move to Arsenal would only give him greater freedom to get forward and create chances.

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