Managers in Fantasy Premier League are rushing to Kieran Trippier (£6.6m) and Sven Botman (£4.7m) after both produced their career-high hauls in Gameweek 6.
Botman is the most-bought player ahead of Gameweek 7, earning over 330,000 new owners on the back of his goal, clean sheet and 12-point return against Sheffield United. His new backers will just hope he can overcome a knee injury ahead of the weekend.
Trippier is the second most-bought defender this week, brought in by 300,000+ after claiming three assists and 18 points in the 8-0 win.
After a slow start to the season, the Magpies are finding their form in defence, producing their two clean sheets for the campaign in the last two matches.
Their extended long-term schedule also shows why managers are prioritising their defenders.
Newcastle face only two of last season’s top seven sides in their next 13 matches, affording them plenty of opportunities for more returns.
Assist threat v goal threat
The creative numbers underline why Trippier costs substantially more than the rest of the Magpies’ defenders.
As their main set-piece taker, he has produced a team-high 17 key passes this term.
Indeed, that total ranks top among defenders and places joint-fourth among all players, level with Tottenham Hotspur playmaker James Maddison (£7.9m).
Having finished as the top-scoring defender in Fantasy last season, Trippier’s display at Bramall Lane on Sunday was a timely reminder of his potential.
Nonetheless, his lack of goal threat is also apparent, with just a single shot in his first six matches, with that effort coming from outside the box.
Botman, by contrast, has recorded five shots in the box, equalling the combined total of the rest of Newcastle's back four.
Attacking stats for Newcastle back four
|Player||Shots||Shots in box||Key passes||Big chances created|
Aim to spend your budget in attack?
Although Trippier has the clear advantage for attacking returns via his assist potential, managers must also look at the bigger picture when choosing between the Newcastle pair.
Both Liverpool and Spurs have very favourable schedules which are likely to increase interest in midfield trio Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Son Heung-min (£9.2m) and the aforementioned Maddison.
At a cost of almost £2.0m more than Botman, Trippier’s hefty price may ultimately prove prohibitive for those who are looking to plough more funds into their attack.
Handily for managers, players such as Spurs’ Pedro Porro (£5.0m) and Aston Villa’s Matty Cash (£4.7m) offer a substantial attacking threat for far less cost.
Porro’s eight shots rank third among defenders, while his seven key passes place eighth. His more-popular team-mate Destiny Udogie (£4.8m) has managed only one shot and four key passes.
Notably, according to the Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDR), four of Spurs’ five matches from Gameweek 8 onwards score only two.
Top defenders for shots and chances created
|Estupinan, Van Dijk, Chilwell||7||Alexander-Arnold, Chilwell||9|
Cash, meanwhile, has boasted the standout attacking threat in defence at the start of 2023/24. Indeed, his 14 shots, 11 shots in the box and seven shots on target all place top in his position.
His fellow Villa full-back Lucas Digne (£4.6m) has also impressed, with 12 key passes placing him fourth in defence.
Villa also have a very kind run of opponents, with six of their next eight matches scoring two in the FDR.
While Trippier remains the top defender for assist potential, the considerable saving in budget is enough to sway the debate in Botman’s favour.
With Porro and Cash looking strong picks for the upcoming period, and Brighton & Hove Albion's Pervis Estupinan (£5.3m) also set to embark on a kinder schedule from Gameweek 10, going with Botman seems the best strategy to allow managers to focus their funds on attack.
Next: FPL experts: How much to invest in defence?
View all the latest FPL tips ahead of Gameweek 7 in Fantasy Premier League