Forget about the top scorers. Yes, City has Aguero and Sterling. Yes, Mane, Salah and Firmino are top notch. But, the Premier League, that may go down to the wire, will likely hinge on the strength of the teams’ defenders. Here’s how the Liverpool and Manchester City defenders rank according to their fantasy football report card.
This weekend, Liverpool were sparred a loss to Tottenham through a lucky own goal and the lack of clinical finishing from Mousa Sissoko. That may be. But, it’s easy to forget just how good Trent-Alexander Arnold (653.39 seasonal points) and Andrew Robertson (959.46 points this season) were. Both created havoc down the flanks, something that has happened all season long, no matter the opposition.
Of course, Liverpool may also have the world’s best central defender on their side. It’s the formSouthamptonton player Virgil van Dijk. He’s been spectacular all year round. But, the fact remains that he needs a worthy partner in central defense.
Things aren’t as cut and dry when it comes to Manchester City. Kyle Walker is growing into the kind of wing-back that Pep Guardiola loves to use. Aymeric Laporte (892.83 points) has usually been dependable. Clearly, the 24-year-old is still growing. That being said, City’s good defensive record seems to have happened as a consequence of the team’s overall efficiency, rather than because of their defenders.
Reds fans look away now! As hard as it may be to accept this, Liverpool is without a second central defender to partner van Dijk with. Besides this, there is little depth on the bench. Joel Matip (314.57 points), Joe Gomez (393.67 points) and Dejan Lovren (305.72 points) have had a fairly successful season. But, they have shown to be error-prone and relatively limited in terms of providing attacking options.
Things looked worse at times for City. John Stones played a wonderful World Cup. But, he has also looked shaky in City’s defense. Otamendi rarely felt like a sound back-up and could be on his way out.
The left-back position has been the sore spot. Benjamin Mendy, Danilo, and Fabian Delph have never quite lived to Guardiola’s standard. It made the manager have to revert youngster Oleksandr Zinchenko to the full back position, a gamble which has paid off.
The Ugly truth about these players’ performances
We can’t understate the importance of Vincent Kompany (224.30 points this season). City’s captain has largely been injured this season. This has left a big gap. We would expect Guardiola to invest in a suitable replacement for next season. Kompany’s absence in the final run of matches could prove vital to the team’s chances of winning the EPL crown.
Liverpool meanwhile looks to have adopted a similar strategy to City. They are stockpiling talented attackers and midfielders. Alberto Moreno (63.63 points) has been nowhere to be found this season, in spite of seemingly being healthy. Nathaniel Clyne has been shipped off to Bournemouth on loan in spite of his clear qualities and a very busy schedule for the Reds.
The teams are pretty evenly matched in all aspects. Still, we would give Liverpool the edge when it comes to defenders. Their starting line-up includes three players with superb performances. Those are van Dijk (952.50 points), Alexander-Arnold and Robertson. They look capable to create assists, score goals, besides beefing up the defense.
Manchester City doesn’t look quite as strong in terms of individual players. Walker and Stones are England regulars and experienced enough to have a positive effect on the team’s chances. But, otherwise, there are few options and Guardiola has needed to improvise.
Who will win the Premier League crown? It’s a neck and neck race until the end. Your choices can influence your drafts in the FootballCoin contests. Join now for a chance to win important XFC prizes.