Telegraph Fantasy Football Preview – Keepers & Defenders, includes Chelsea keeper and Arsenal centre-back

The football season is drawing ever nearer which also means for millions the return of fantasy football – player lists have been released and on the majority of games managers can now begin the long tinkering process of picking their sides for the opening day. Over the next few weeks I will be analysing the talent available to Telegraph fantasy football managers, starting with today’s piece on defenders and goal keepers.


Having been the leading keeper in the previous two seasons Joe Hart is unsurprisingly the top priced shot stopper this year at £4m. The Manchester City man should again feature amongst the top scorers, however a change of manager and therefore possible move away from the cautious approach of Roberto Mancini could see Hart’s returns fall – after all no other side kept more clean sheets than City last term.

If Jose Mourinho can keep Chelsea’s backline as tight as he did during his last spell then Petr Cech looks a sound option, with Chelsea’s other defensive options priced on the steep side Cech offers possibly the best route in. If David Moyes can transfer the defensive solidarity that formed the base of his Everton success then David de Gea could also prove as strong of an option as he has ever been.

The sale of Pepe Reina means Simon Mignolet is virtually assured the number one jersey and at £3.5m he offers a solid alternative – particularly if Liverpool can match last terms 16 clean sheets. At £3.4m Hugo Lloris also looks good value, however just 9 shut ups by Spurs last term mean vast improvements will be needed to justify investment.


Defenders who can provide attacking returns together with clean sheets are again the Holy Grail. Leighton Baines topped the points chart last year and so long as he retains penalty taking duties he should again feature strongly, particularly if Everton see an increase in attacking returns with the arrival of Roberto Martinez – although the worry will be that the change of approach could see defensive returns drop off all together.

Chelsea, expected to experience an upturn in defensive points have plenty of options with Branoslav Ivanovic and David Luiz both offering attacking threat together with those return – although both are on the top end of the defensive scale. Gary Cahill at £3.9 million offers better value however there are still question marks over his starting place, Cesar Azpillicueta at £3.8m could prove a smart pick with a lack of challengers for the right back birth. Whilst Chelsea do look appealing it is worth noting that their early fixtures appear tough – so overloading at this stage is not advised.

For Manchester United it is difficult to identify a starting backline as yet although Rafael at £4.2m should play the majority of games, whilst if Nemanja Vidic can stay fit his pricing of £4.5m and set piece threat could make a worthwhile risk – although like Chelsea, United also have been dealt a tricky start fixture wise. Last year Pablo Zabaleta was excellent value for money however that has resulted in a hoik in price up to £4.4 million, which will put many off – particularly considering we don’t know how City will play. Micah Richards at just £3.3m could be a steal, however with his position in the side in real doubt it is probably too early to take a chance on him. Matija Nastasic at £3.6m should only improve further after a strong debut season and he offers strong value for money.

Arsenal last year experienced solid returns defensively and here lies some of the better priced options, in particular Laurent Koscielny at £3.7m – a bargain if he can retain his form from the end of last term. The Gunners are also boosted by a generous early set of fixtures that should bring about high returns early on. Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham don’t offer the same level of solidarity, that said Jan Vertonghen should again present genuine goal threat, whilst having slumped slightly last term Kyle Walker at £4m has the potential to prove a steal if he can find his best form. Younnes Kaboul at £3.4m is one to keep an eye if he can reclaim his starting place following a year out with injury. Liverpool were fairly solid last season and there is no indication that will change again this term, with Jose Enrique once again offering guaranteed starts at a fairly decent cost.

In regards to players outside the more fashionable options, Norwich could be set for a good season and were relatively sound defensively last term. Michael Turner looks a safe option however Martin Olsson priced at £3m and with the potential of starting on the left wing presents an intriguing options. Fulham after several years of being a reliable budget defender option struggled for clean sheets last term, however if they can regain that solidarity there are plenty of options – in particularly new man Amorebeita at £2.9m. Stoke might not be the reliable defence they were under Tony Pulis so caution should be shown in that direction. West Ham should pick up a decent amount of returns, with Winston Reid at £3.2m looking their most nailed on value selection, although Romanian international Ravzan Rat could be a bargain at £2.8m. Following a woeful season Newcastle’s value has dropped off dramatically despite strong returns the season before and if they can regain their strides Mathieu Debuchy at just £3m looks ridiculously cheap given he should also offer attacking returns.