Spurs left-back Ben Davies, who had become a sort of a fan favorite amongst Fantasy Premier League managers, was benched for the second Premier League game in succession on Sunday. In this article, I explore exit options for owners of the Welshman.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino again chose to overlook Davies, who had scored 49 points in only 6 appearances. Stunningly, he scored 3 double digits hauls. However, he again remained rooted to the bench against Liverpool – having endured a similar fate against Bournemouth. It looks like he may no longer be Pochettino’s favored left-back of choice. With Danny Rose returning from a long-term injury, Davies’ prospects only look even more grim.
Spurs’ congested fixture schedule means that there will be rotation, with an array of full-backs at the Argentine’s disposal. It means that Davies can no longer justify his £5.8m price tag. Here are my top 5 replacements for the defender who has undoubtedly served us well for the start of the season.
1. Nicolas Otamendi (£5.8m)
At £5.8m, the Man City defender represents an ideal like-for-like replacement for Davies. Amidst all the goal craziness from Pep Guardiola’s side, one thing that has gone under the radar is how he has transformed their defense. Indeed, City have only conceded 4 goals in 9 games so far – joint lowest with the other Manchester side. And perhaps the man at the helm has been Nicolas Otamendi. With only two tough fixtures in the next 8, City definitely look good to add more to their 6 clean sheets for the season. And the way City are playing lately, the fixtures don’t even seem to matter anyway; they’ve already kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge without breaking a sweat.
What sets Otamendi apart from cheaper options is his attacking threat. The Argentinean has scored two goals already – with the latest coming this weekend against Burnley. He is always a menace from set-pieces, and with City’s forward line a bunch of fleet footed but small players, their primary target at set-pieces. Otamendi has taken 12 shots so far – only fewer than Marcos Alonso (14) amongst defenders. Of them, 4 have been on target, again only fewer than Alonso (5) amongst defenders. His 7 headed attempts are the second highest, to Ben Mee (9). If you don’t own him already/don’t need to make funds for elsewhere, he seems like the obvious choice.
2. Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.6m)
If you have some money in the bank and are looking for an upgrade – Azpilicueta is perhaps the man. Although Chelsea have struggled to keep clean sheets so far, we’re all too familiar with Antonio Conte’s side to know that it won’t last for too long. Their defense could be further helped with the sooner-than-expected return of Ngolo Kante as soon as next week. With comfortable fixtures even beyond the next 6 – Man Utd and Liverpool are the only top 6 sides they face till GW22 – he could be a nifty little long-term fire and forget option.
Why Azplilicueta is preferred over his other Chelsea teammates is again his attacking threat. The Spaniard has added that feather to has cap this season – in 810 minutes, he has scored 1 and assisted 4 already; last season, he scored 1 and assisted 5 in 3420 minutes. With Victor Moses out for a month or so, Azpilicueta could also be deployed as a right wing-back for a longer stint. He was indeed a wing-back against Watford this weekend, and celebrated his license to roam with a late goal. Although a tad expensive, you’ll get what you’re paying for with him.
3. Kiko Femenia (£4.5m)
If you’re looking to make funds to splurge out elsewhere, Kiko Femenia could be a nifty little under the radar budget choice. Although Watford have conceded 17 goals so far, 4th highest in the league, it is worth noting that 13 of them have been in 3 games against Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea. The Hornets have endured a horror start to the season fixtures wise, facing 4 of last season’s top 6 already. However, in the 5 ‘weaker’ teams they’ve faced, they’ve given a good account of their defensive credentials – with 3 clean sheets.
Ex-Barcelona player Femenia seems to have nailed down the right wing-back role over Daryl Janmaat, after some good performances to begin the season. He’s a monster with the bonus points too – when Watford keep a clean sheet, expect him to be up there for them. He has earned 2 bonus points for each of the clean sheets Watford have kept. As a wing-back, his attacking threat is fairly decent too. With Watford’s fixtures easing up – the back-to-back clashes against Man Utd and Spurs in GW14 and 15 their only tough fixtures till GW22 – at 4.7% ownership, he could be a great little differential.
4. Ben Mee (£4.5m)
Another budget option to consider is Burnley’s Ben Mee. With Stephen Ward now £4.7m, Mee is perhaps the best way into the Clarets rearguard. Burnley are another side who have had a tough start to the season, having faced 4 of the top 6 already. In the other 5 fixtures, though, they have conceded only 2 and kept 3 clean sheets, giving us a solid account for their defensive capabilities. The injury to talismanic goalkeeper Tom Heaton hasn’t done them too much harm, with Nick Pope having been a more than solid fill-in so far. And with 4 plum home games in the next 8 – with only Arsenal the tougher fixture, they should add more to their clean sheet numbers.
Although Mee hasn’t yet scored a goal, you can say it’s definitely coming soon. His goal threat stats are up there with the best of defenders. With 9 headed attempts, he has the most amongst defenders. His 10 shots are only fewer than Alonso (14), Cedric Soares (12) and the aforementioned Otamendi. His 4 shots on target, like Otamendi, are again only fewer to Alonso (5). Mee’s 10 shots from set-pieces are the highest amongst defenders, only second to Harry Kane (15) overall. It hasn’t happened yet, but there’s definitely a 15-pointer coming from Mee somewhere.
5. Charlie Daniels (£4.9m)
At number 5, I go for an exciting mid-priced defender in fan favorite Charlie Daniels. Although Bournemouth haven’t exactly been the strongest at the back so far, Eddie Howe’s men have shown signs of improvement lately. They have only conceded 2 in the last 3 games, despite the fixtures not being the best. The fixture improvement is on the horizon – after this weekend’s clash with Chelsea, they have a run of 6 easier fixtures on the bounce. It is only after GW16 their fixtures turn ugly again – the Man Utd game is followed by Liverpool and Man City. Even still, Daniels could be a good left-field pick for the medium-term. Despite relinquishing penalty duties, old-timers will know his attacking potential all too well; making him a pick likely to contribute on both ends of the pitch. He has already scored and assisted once this season.