With only 11 days to go before the season finally starts, it's time to start ranking your players.
Knowing who you prefer is integral to having a successful draft. Here's my thoughts on the top defensive player ranks at this stage:
1: Alisson (Liverpool) - Controversially i'm not a huge fan of Alisson, but still have to rank him number one due to the strength of Liverpool's defence. He made several calamitous errors last season in a similar manner to Karius and Mignolet in seasons past, but they were largely forgotten due to the situational insignificance. Karius made his worst errors in the biggest game of the season, Alisson was lucky to make them when Liverpool were home and dry in easy league games. Regardless he's highly likely to pick up the most clean sheets of any keeper, and does more to generate save points than his nearest rival.
2: Ederson (Man City) - Comfortably the second best defence in the league, although no Kompany may mean a couple fewer clean sheets. Resurrection of Mangala anyone? Amazingly Ederson made less than two saves per game last season, so his output is pretty much limited to clean sheets and appearance points.
3: Anyone (any team) - Honestly think the gap between The top two keepers and the rest is huge, no other team is capable of matching their clean sheets. Therefore if you don't reach for Alisson or Ederson in the early rounds don't draft keepers until your last few picks. Virtually any of the other eighteen starting keepers has similar ability for points generation, either through saves or clean sheets, so don't waste early picks on them.
1: Van Dijk (Liverpool) - The Rolls Royce of defenders, best centre back in the world for me. Most would have Liverpool's flying wing backs ranked above him, but I believe the addition of VAR will give VVD even more goal attempts from set pieces. Given a goal is worth twice as much as an assist in standard scoring i'm happy to side with the goalscorer, even in defence. Unbroken playing time is a virtual certainty, no danger of the big Dutchman getting subbed and losing those vital clean sheet points. Can you say the same for the full backs?
2: Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) - Just gets the edge over Robertson because he's younger and has more potential to better previous returns. Playing time may be somewhat limited by rotation and the odd knock, but his attacking potential coupled with clean sheets means he's a clear top three defender for me.
3: Robertson (Liverpool) - Virtually interchangable with TAA above, you'll have to use a first or second round draft pick to get any of the top three defenders in most leagues.
4: Laporte (Man City) - There's a bit of a gap between the Liverpool trio and the remainder, but Laporte is a clear number four for me. The only Man City defender i can say is truly nailed on to play, and started to show some attacking potential later in the 18/19 season. Kyle Walker is the only other option that comes close, but with ongoing Cancelo rumours and a limited attacking appeal, plus the creeping denegration of age, he's no Laporte.
5: Azpilicueta (Chelsea) - Found it really hard to choose a number five! Other than Man City and Liverpool I can't honestly say there's a team nailed on for more than 12 clean sheets this season. Cesar is a bit of safety pick, regardless of how Lampard sets Chelsea up he'll be integral to it. He'll play 90mins, and he'll provide some attacking threat. The populist pick here would be Digne at Everton, but i'm just not seeing it given the potential Gueye exit.
I'll be back later in the week with rankings across midfielders and forwards.
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