The best FPL defenders for a Double Gameweek 37 Free Hit

Five Premier League teams will play twice in Double Gameweek 37 and we’ll be running down a position-by-position guide to the pick of the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) options in each position, whether you’re using a Free Hit or even just normal transfers.

The majority of active managers have alreadycard as their Triple Captain, Wild and Bench Boost but there are a lot of unus Free Hit chips still sloshing around, evidenced in our recent 10k analysis.

All stats from this article are from our Premium Members Area and were correct before the Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal match on Thursday.

LUCAS DIGNE/MATTHEW CASH

Digne's FPL potential evident in Aston Villa debut 5

There’s a double-up on Aston Villa’s full-backs in our Scout Picks ‘bus team’ and while that may change by the time we get around to the final selection on Saturday, there is method behind the apparent madness.

The Villans are notorious flat-track bullies this season, struggling against the competing sides for European places but generally impressing against those around or below them in the table.

Defensively, they have turned in some impressive showings against the ‘also-rans’ (sides ninth or below in the Premier League) under Steven Gerrard:

Total
Played 15th
Won 10
Drawn 2
Lost 3
Conseded 10
clean sheets 8
Expected goals on target conceded (xG OTC) 11.40

Only Liverpool and Manchester City have a better rate of clean sheets (53.5%) against the mid-to-lower-table clubs than Villa since Gerrard’s appointment.

As for the Villans’ Gameweek 37 opponents, only Norwich have scored goals fewer on their travels than Burnley. Palace have found the net on just 10 occasions in their 12 away matches outside of sides in the bottom six, meanwhile.

going forward, Matthew Cash (£5.3m) and the set-piece-taking Lucas Digne (£5.0m) offer a bit of attacking menace to supplement the clean sheet potential.

Digne is the more creative, while Cash offers extra goal threat – and as a result, there’s very little to them when it comes to expected split goal involvement (xGI):

Above: Lucas Digne and Matty Cash’s ‘minutes per’ stats since Digne made the move to Aston Villa

Digne does seem to get forward more when the two play together, with that disparity even more pronounced upon the France international’s return to the team in the last two Gameweeks – he’s had more than double the number of final-third touches as Cash (see below ):

Digne has also been a home bird: six of his seven shots and 15 of his 23 chances created since moving from Everton have been at Villa Park, even though he has only a few extra minutes on his own turf compared to on the road.

VITALII MYKOLENKO

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Reservations may still exist about Everton’s attack after they struggled to find a way past a second-string, relegated Watford on Wednesday but their defence pocketed another clean sheet at Vicarage Road, the Toffees’ fifth under Frank Lampard.

The other four shut-outs have come at Goodison Park, and Everton’s home form has generally been much better than their away results.

Only three goals have been conceded on Merseyside since Lampard took over, while no-one outside of the ‘big six’ has carved out a big chance against the Toffees under the current regime:

Big chances conceded Expected goals conceded Actual goals conceded
GW35: Chelsea (h) 2 1.27 0
GW33: Leicester (h) 0 1.29 1
GW32: Man Utd (h) 1 1.16 0
GW29: Newcastle (h) 0 1.31 0
GW29: Wolves (h) 0 0.99 1
GW27: Man City (h) 3 1.94 1
GW25: Leeds (h) 0 0.38 0

That makes for positive reading ahead of a double-header at Goodison, then, although it’s worth acknowledging the recent form of opponents Palace and Brentford. The Bees, in fact, have scored 11 goals in their last six matches.

The switch to a 3-4-3/5-4-1 in Gameweek 35 has served the dual purpose of beefing up the defense while allowing Vitalli Mykolenko (£4.9m) a bit more freedom to get forward. He’s no Cancelo, let’s be clear, but he had recorded just one attempt on goal in the eight matches preceding the formation change and has registered five efforts in the last three games as a wing-back.

ANDREW ROBERTSON

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It’s Andrew Robertson‘s (£7.3m) name on the heading here but in reality, any Liverpool picks should only be finalized after we’ve seen the FA Cup final on Saturday and once the minutes and injuries are logged. Happily, FPL have blessed us with a Sunday deadline this week.

A rest for the Scot in midweek suggests he’ll be in the line-up at Southampton next Tuesday, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.4m) perhaps a little more at risk of breather after what will have been four successive starts – providing he is in the starting XI at Wembley, as expected. Of course, Jurgen Klopp may have other ideas, as he did with a certain Egyptian at Villa Park.

Robertson trails Alexander-Arnold by a considerable margin when we look at xGI over the course of the season but Liverpool’s left-back nevertheless is the Premier League’s second-most creative defender in 2021/22 (with 55 supplied chances) and behind only Cancelo for penalty box touches.

In reality, we don’t need to sell you the merits of a Liverpool full-back so much as the weaknesses of the opposition.

Since Southampton’s form nosedived in Gameweek 28, they are bottom of the table for goals conceded, clean sheets and big chances conceded, with only Norwich allowing more expected goals conceded (xGC).

That’s the attacking side taken care of but what about clean sheet potential? Well, as it happens, no side has scored fewer goals than Saints (seven) over the last nine Gameweeks, either.

JOACHIM ANDERSEN

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With six clean sheets in their last 12 matches, Crystal Palace boast one of the division’s most in-form defences.

They also have two fixtures in Double Gameweek 37, albeit both of them on the road.

While there has been some degree of ‘overachievement’ from the Eagles during this purple patch at the back, they still rank among the best Premier League teams for xGC from Gameweek 25 onwards:

Andersen is £4.6m for a reason and he doesn’t offer you much goal threat, averaging less than one shot every four appearances. Four assists have Arrived this season, and his distribution from the back is a weapon in Palace’s armoury, but an xGI of 2.28 puts his creativity in some context.

It’ll be worth monitoring Patrick Vieira’s press conference on Friday, too, as Marc Guehi (£4.5m) is an injury doubt for Gameweek 37. Much of Palace’s good work at the back has been predicated on the solid Guehi-Andersen partnership, so any absence for the former Chelsea stopper could slightly weaken the Eagles’ rear.

OLEKSANDR ZINCHENKO

The best FPL defenders for a Double Gameweek 37 Free Hit 2

There’s not much we can tell you that you don’t already know about Joao Cancelo (£7.2m), the first port of call for a Manchester City defender if money is no object.

He is also now short of competition, with three defensive colleagues now ruled out for the rest of the campaign and new concerns existing over Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) Fernandinho (£4.7m).

Cancel was back to his attacking best on Sunday against Newcastlefollowing that display up with another assist in midweek.

But we’ll dedicate this section to Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.3m), a cut-price route into the City backline and someone who will also stand to benefit from the absence of Messrs Stones, Walker and Dias – and potentially others.

There’s no ‘double’ for City this Gameweek and the away match at West Ham could be potentially tricky but Pep Guardiola’s backline is statistically the best in the division, whether you’re looking at goals shipped, clean sheets or expected goals conceded (xGC) .

We’re talking about a small sample size when it comes to Zinchenko’s minutes but when he has been on the field, he’s up there with the leading defenders for expected assists (xA):

Above: Defenders sorted by expected assists (xA) in 2021/22

What you’re not getting with Zinchenko, as is the case with Cancelo, is the additional goal threat, as he has never scored a league goal for City. The Ukraine international has had a shot every 116 minutes this season; Cancelo’s average is down at 40.

The other big question is over whether City’s patched-up rearguard can be as effective without some of its star names but, at worst, a back four of Cancelo, Nathan Ake (£4.7m), Rodri (£5.5m) and Zinchenko isn’t dreadful by any stretch.

ALSO CONSIDER

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Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) seemingly remains the safest route into the Leicester defense ahead of their Double Gameweek, with a bit of uncertainty existing over just what Brendan Rodgers might do regarding team selection with the games coming thick and fast.

The rotation probably won’t be as wholesale as it was between UEFA Europa Conference Leagues, at least, so FPL managers who love to live a little might consider a punt on James Justin (£4.9m): he can’t be beaten by teammate Timothy Castagne (£5.3m) for chances created, penalty box touches, final-third touches, shots, efforts in the box or xGI over their last six appearances. A goal-shy Watford is first up for the Foxes, with a clean sheet looking less likely at Stamford Bridge.

Spurs and Wolves play two of the division’s three lowest scorers this weekend.

Emerson Royal (£4.5m) Ryan Sessegnon (£4.3m) are cut-price routes into the Lilywhites’ backline and starved of competition for their places with injuries elsewhere. Sessegnon is top of all defenders for big chances created in his last six matches.

Bruno Lage could respond to a 5-1 thumping against Manchester City by making some changes so perhaps to play it on the safe side, an ever-present Conor Coady (£4.8m) might be the securest selection to capitalise on Norwich’s goal prevention – not that Wolves are in good defensive shape themselves, with no clean sheet since March. Coady at least offers his all-new goal threat at the other end, with his tally of four Premier League goals unbeaten by any other center-half this season.


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