With very few sides consistently keeping clean sheets week in week out the parameters on which we base our selections have had to be adjusted somewhat this week as we go in search of viable options at the back for round 12 of the Irish Times Fantasy Premier League. With a number of defenders showing promise and even delivering on the attacking front fantasy managers will do well to look for these little hidden gems over the coming weeks like Kaspars Gorkss for example who for £3.1 million would have chipped in with one goal and one assist in his last three not to mention a clean sheet last time out, so it is by this measure that we have taken a fresh look at some defensive options for the coming weekend.
Davide Santon (Newcastle United) £3.6 million. Fixture: Swansea (Home)
The Italian defender has done well since his move from Inter Milan and has been ever present in the Magpie’s back line this season under the guidance of Alan Pardew. Newcastle have been less than impressive at the back so far this season with only one clean sheet to their name coming in round 5 against Norwich and go into this weekends game with Swansea on the back of a 1-0 defeat to West Ham last weekend. Pardew’s side will be keen to get back to winning ways as they welcome a Swans side who are struggling for goals on the road having only managed one goal in their last four away days. There is little doubt that Santon will have his work cut out this weekend as he tries to keep Michu quiet, but with his pace and ability some attacking points may also be on offer this time round.
George McCartney (West Ham United) £3.2 million. Fixture: Stoke (Home)
West Ham have surprised even the most expectant Hammers fans with their good start to the season and currently find themselves lying in 6th in the league table. Big Sam’s side are coming off the back of a draw against Manchester City and a win last time out against Newcastle and more importantly have keept a clean sheet in both. McCartney has been a revelation for the Hammers and fantasy managers this season with solid defensive performances which have seen him collect 3 clean sheets and on the attacking front he has also produced 2 assists in his last 5 games. Stoke make the trip down south to London on the back of a 2-0 victory over Swansea last time out, but on the round the results tell a different story with the Potters seemingly unable to find the target on the road managing to score in only one of their last four away games. The Hammers are well organised at the back and will be keen to remain in the European places for as long as they can and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another clean sheet for McCartney and co come the weekend.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) £5.2 million. Fixture: Aston Villa (Home)
Manchester City remain the only unbeaten side in the premier league after they managed to come from a goal down to beat Tottenham on Sunday,but despite this fact they find themselves 2 points off the league leaders Manchester United. City have not produced the type of form that we saw from them last season and at the back have only managed two clean sheets all season, however this week they welcome Aston Villa to town and with the Villains seemingly unable to buy a goal away from Villa Park Kompany’s and City’s chances of recording their third clean sheet in four games looks strong. As we said only two clean sheets is a poor reflection on the current champions but it seems the tide is turning and are beginning to gel at the back. Villa have only managed 3 goals in 6 away games and as many teams will testify the Eithad is not an easy place to go in search of only your second away win of the season, especially given that City are unbeaten.
Jose Enrique (Liverpool) £4.1 million. Fixture: Wigan (Home)
Brendan Rogers seems to be bringing out the best in the former Newcastle man since he took over at Anfield during the summer and Enrique has been quietly going about his business and has slipped under the radar of many fantasy football managers. The Spaniard was of course missing for four games due to injury but has looked sharp since his return and picked up an assist in round 10 against his former club. Liverpool’s only two clean sheets have both come on home soil and this week they welcome a Wigan side to Merseyside that are not short on confidence. The truth be told a clean sheet would be a good achievement for Roger’s side, however it is not for the clean sheet potential that Enrique finds himself in our thoughts it is for his attacking potential down the left. Wigan of course play a much talked about back 3 and this is something the Liverpool will be looking to exploite with balls in behind from either flank for one Luis Suarez to get on the end of and given the form he is in we would expect him to convert these chances, so don’t be surprised to see Jose pop up with an assist or two in this one.
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