Initially just a Gameweek 9 doubt, Eddie Howe later ruled out centre-back Sven Botman (£4.7m) for a bit longer. Therefore the Dutchman’s 1.47 million remaining Fantasy Premier League (FPL) owners need a way to replace him.
“He wasn’t close today. Obviously I couldn’t say that yesterday but he hasn’t trained with us yet, so he’s got a bit of a way to go. We’re hopeful it won’t be too long but certainly, the next couple of weeks he won’t be fit.” – Eddie Howe on Sven Botman
Seen as a far cheaper alternative to Newcastle United team-mate Kieran Trippier (£6.9m), his popularity increased even further thanks to the 21 points that arrived during Gameweeks 5 and 6. Yet a knee issue has kept him out of the most recent three whilst Trippier keeps hauling.
Whether you’re a manager on a Wildcard or just using regular free transfers, here are some appealing sub-£5.0m alternatives until Botman returns and Botman begins. Heh.
Dan Burn (£4.7m) / Jamaal Lascelles (£3.9m)
Of course, one option is to simply make the sideways move of grabbing a different Newcastle defender. They’ve recorded four clean sheets from five matches, with trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bournemouth on the horizon.
It’s just a question of which individual. Wildcarders could find money elsewhere to finally get onto Trippier but, with other Newcastle fixtures looking tough, getting a cheaper, rotatable asset may work best. Dan Burn (£4.7m) is a fairly safe starter, scored in Gameweek 6 and has accumulated the fourth-most shots inside the box (seven) of all defenders.
However, if the plan is to only play a Newcastle defender over the very short-term, Botman’s replacement Jamaal Lascelles (£3.9m) is showing he is more than capable and has the lowest price of anyone in FPL. The problem is that he doesn’t match the sole requirement of cheap bench players – guaranteed long-term minutes.
Kostas Tsimikas (£4.5m)
The Kostas Tsimikas (£4.5m) hype began once Andrew Robertson (£6.5m) injured his shoulder and was ruled out for three months. The Greek left-back was indeed picked to step in for Saturday’s 2-0 win over Everton, lasting 61 minutes and just about securing a clean sheet.
Naturally, with that hurdle cleared and some superb fixtures coming up, he’s since risen once in price and will likely do so again en route to being among the week’s most-bought individuals.
But manager Jurgen Klopp has already given a clue on how he intends to proceed without Robertson. Tsimikas is by no means a secure starter.
“Thank God it’s not only Kostas we have for that [position] because otherwise for the amount of games we have, we’d be a bit short. Joe Gomez can play the position, we have Luke Chambers and other young boys who show up in training quite frequently.
“You need options, that’s clear, and Kostas is definitely the most experienced in that position, so that’s good – but he cannot play all the games from now on, so we need other options as well.” – Jurgen Klopp
Additionally, Liverpool have conceded the seventh-most chances (121) to follow up being last season’s third-worst for allowing big chances (101).
Even so, Tsimikas is worth the risk for such a low price. If he can replicate Robertson’s underlying stats up to Gameweek 8 – where he ranked third amongst defenders for chance creation (19) – then it’s a potential bargain.
Gabriel Magalhaes (£4.7m)
One of this campaign’s early twists was that Gabriel Magalhaes (£4.7m) – picked by over 2.7 million for Gameweek 1 – saw his streak of 73 consecutive league starts surprisingly end with an opening day benching. It then continued into the next two matches, causing many managers to abandon ship.
Yet the Arsenal centre-back has started each of the last six. Is he back to being nailed on or still a potential trap?
A home match with Sheffield United is next, facing Burnley (h), Wolves (h) and Luton Town (a) by Gameweek 15. So owning a defender from the Gunners feels essential, considering they have the joint-most clean sheets (four) and are currently second-best for limiting attempts (82), shots on target (21) and expected goals conceded (xGC, 7.98).
A template pre-season pick when £5.0m, Gabriel is now £4.7m with attractive fixtures and an attacking threat that brought three goals and 5.08 expected goals (xG) in 2022/23.
Pau Torres (£4.5m)
This week’s Wildcarders may find that a squad that was recently affordable has quickly become impossible. Three players have already risen £0.6m in value this season, including Aston Villa right-back Matty Cash (£5.1m).
Therefore, to cover their defence during enticing upcoming fixtures, a sacrifice could include having Pau Torres (£4.5m) instead. He scored in Gameweek 8 at Wolves, putting him just five behind Cash’s 38 points. The Spaniard also has more points than Lucas Digne (£4.7m), whilst beating him for sustained line-up security.
Not that Villa’s defence has been reliable of late. Last season’s initial revival under Unai Emery featured a resolute backline but, despite conceding the fourth-fewest shots (101) so far, they’ve also allowed the fifth-most big chances (27).
Diogo Dalot (£4.9m)
Saturday’s trip to Sheffield United was heading towards a 1-1 draw. Another disappointing display from a Manchester United side expected to have a strong year on all fronts.
Then, right-back Diogo Dalot (£4.9m) curled in a lovely long-range winner to scrape another 2-1. Prospective new owners won’t like buying a post-goal defender but the 24-year-old should be fairly secure at right-back in the absence of hamstring victim Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.4m).
Furthermore, our Season Ticker believes Man United have the third-best defensive fixture run between Gameweeks 11 and 16.
Marc Guehi (£4.5m)
One of the two above Man United is Crystal Palace, set to face Burnley (a), Everton (h), Luton (a) and Bournemouth (h) in this period. Four of the league’s seven lowest-scoring teams.
Saturday’s heavy defeat at Newcastle has to be classed as an off-day for the Eagles, one that ended a run of three successive clean sheets.
A slip from Marc Guehi (£4.5m) gifted the Magpies their third goal but the England international has been generally rock-solid and both he and left-back Tyrick Mitchell (£4.5m) could be worth the saving over team-mate Joachim Andersen (£4.9m)
Palace have conceded the fifth-fewest shots on target (34) and nobody has bettered their four defensive shut-outs.
Kurt Zouma (£4.5m) / Nayef Aguerd (£4.5m)
It’s different for West Ham United, whose efforts conceded (164) and xGC (18.50) are both third-worst.
But sometimes FPL managers need to look forward rather than backwards. Recent matches have been tough and the Season Ticker says they have the best fixtures until Gameweek 17. So those without cheap goalkeeper Alphonse Areola (£4.2m) may want a defender instead.
Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m) is on four assists, alongside centre-backs Kurt Zouma (£4.5m) and Nayef Aguerd (£4.5m) both heading home from James Ward-Prowse (£6.3m) corners. In fact, Aguerd’s three big chances have only been topped by Cash amongst defenders.