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FPL tips: let Chelsea banish your defensive blues

Chelsea

This season has produced goals at a higher rate than any other in Premier League history, with an average of 2.96 per game so far. This makes for a great spectacle but also a nightmare for fantasy managers trying to assemble a reliable defence.

Chelsea’s recent performances are gradually widening a ray of hope however, with Frank Lampard’s side keeping one of the division’s best attacks quiet this weekend.

The Fantasy Premier League’s Threat metric, which scores each goalscoring chance based on its probability of being converted, shows that the Blues’ back line was the most effective in gameweek 10.

FPL gameweek 10: Threat created and allowed

Chelsea’s defence was miserly again while Sheffield United’s attack is more productive than their goal return would suggest (PA graphic)

This was the fourth week in a row that Chelsea’s opponents have racked up less than 100 points of Threat. Their total of 240 Threat faced in this four-match spell is less than two clubs had to deal with this weekend alone, making their defensive assets increasingly attractive.

With Ben Chilwell an obvious choice, having been selected by more than one in three managers, those looking to double up can take encouragement from Reece James and Kurt Zouma being ever-present in recent weeks.

Stepping further back through the team sheet, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy’s impressive start shouldn’t be overlooked. The Senegal international has more clean sheets than any other keeper despite missing four of his club’s matches this season, securing a shut-out in five of his six appearances.

Are Spurs losing their sheen?

Harry Kane, right, and Son Heung-min

Harry Kane, right, and Son Heung-min have gone quiet of late (Neil Hall/PA)

The team that Chelsea stifled so effectively on Sunday looks to be heading in the opposite direction. Three of Tottenham’s last four matches have now seen them register fewer than 100 points of Threat.

Star attackers Son Heung-min and Harry Kane are the second and third most-owned players respectively, but both have seen their price drop recently. The tough fixtures still ahead of them will surely be accompanied by some equally difficult decisions for their owners.

The Blades aren’t blunt

Oli McBurnie

Oli McBurnie had chances for Sheffield United (Mike Egerton/PA)

At the other end of the league table, another loss for Sheffield United leaves them worryingly adrift with just one point from their first 10 matches.

However they appeared unlucky in defeat against West Brom, having the highest Threat score in the division this weekend and creating comfortably more than their opponents. More clinical finishing from the likes of Oli McBurnie, who alone racked up more than 100 points, could yield some much-needed attacking returns.

While there may be some hope for his side up front, Chris Wilder would do well to review how they defended at the weekend. Albion midfielder Matheus Pereira was able to run riot and became the first Premier League player this season to accumulate more than 100 points of Creativity – the sister metric to Threat which measures assist potential – in a single match.

With the Baggies’ next two matches against Crystal Palace and Newcastle looking winnable, expect the Brazilian’s stock to rise in the short term.

The rise of Riyad

Riyad Mahrez, centre, with the match ball after his hat-trick against Burnley

Riyad Mahrez, centre, left with the match ball against Burnley (Laurence Griffiths/PA)

Manchester City put in the best all-round performance of the weekend in their 5-0 rout of Burnley, creating the third-highest amount of Threat while allowing the second-lowest in return.

Managers looking to add some City players to their ranks face a difficult decision however, with a combination of injuries, poor form and Pep Guardiola’s squad rotation affecting many of the obvious candidates.

Riyad Mahrez has been a more peripheral figure at City than he was in his Leicester heyday, but he has stepped up to lead the attack and was the only other player to reach 100 Threat points this weekend. That performance saw him overtake Raheem Sterling as his club’s leading Threat scorer and, with plenty of easy-looking fixtures still to come, he will surely be a popular signing this week.