The fourth week of Premier League action is upon us, following a brief interlude for international fixtures, and that means a return to Fantasy Premier League action.
Week 4 will play host to big moves in the Fantasy Football world, with the late arrivals of the summer transfer window now available for selection. To date, a total of 231,000 players of the official Barclays Premier League game have already included Arsenal's Mesut Ozil in their side.
But, with all the attention turning to new arrivals and principally attacking players, it is important to remember that it is a strong defensive performance that can end up being the difference between success and failure in Fantasy Football.
|Michael Dawson||Tottenham||£5.0||Vs. Norwich|
|Rio Ferdinand||Man Utd||£5.5||Vs. Crystal Palace|
|Jores Okore||Aston Villa||£4.4||Vs. Newcastle|
|Brede Hangeland||Fulham||£5.0||Vs. West Brom|
|Dejan Lovren||Southampton||£5.0||Vs. West Ham|
Barclays Premier League Fantasy Football game
The key is to look for players who are likely to get a clean sheet this weekend and, in all likelihood, they are most likely to come at Tottenham and Manchester United, who take on Norwich and Crystal Palace, respectively.
Norwich have looked a strong side thus far this season, but will be faced with a reinforced Tottenham team who look to dominate possession.
Excluding their match with an in-form Arsenal last time out, Spurs averaged 57.5 percent of the ball in their opening two fixtures against Crystal Palace and Swansea—figures which should be repeated this weekend.
That kind of dominance affords a great platform from which to amass clean sheets and, as such, Spurs won both matches without conceding.
At £5 million, Michael Dawson would appear a great investment for any fantasy side—as the cheaper of Spurs' two regular centre-backs.
Given that he is not a frequent goalscorer, it is understandable that Ferdinand should be cheaper than many top defenders around the league. However, Crystal Palace's visit to Old Trafford is an encounter that the Red Devils will have pinpointed for a clean sheet.
Will Man Utd claim a clean sheet?
With the addition of Marouane Fellaini in midfield, United should have a much stronger core to the side in front of the defensive line.
Add in the Belgian's ability at defending set pieces, with an average of six aerial duels won per game per WhoScored, and it is clear that Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will benefit from his arrival.
United will expect to dominate proceedings and win comfortably on the day. With Palace likely to find chances limited, Ferdinand is a great investment at £5.5 million.
Looking at less obvious choices for inclusion, Danish centre-back Okore is a fantastic addition for sides with a limited budget for defenders.
Okore has shown in the past that he is a more than capable performer at the highest level, emerging with great credit from two Champions League ties with Chelsea last season.
Having now come into the Aston Villa first-team, he has faced a tough induction against Chelsea and Liverpool, but should find life much easier against Newcastle this weekend.
Strong in the air and a good tackler, he will make life difficult for the Magpies' forwards and should have a great shot at claiming a clean sheet in a game Villa will hope to win in front of their home support.
Fulham's towering Norwegian Hangeland is another good bet for a clean sheet, with opponents West Brom having mustered just four shots on target all season.
The Midlands side may have strengthened with the addition of Victor Anichebe and Stephane Sessegnon on deadline day, but there will be little cause for major pre-match concern in the Fulham ranks.
Fulham fell to a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal in their only previous home fixture this season, but have emerged from two long trips to the North East with a credible record of just one goal conceded.
A clean sheet against West Brom is a more than achievable aim and, if Fulham's talented but unpredictable forward players can come to the fore, they should be able to limit the Baggies as an attacking threat.
The final defender on our list is Southampton's Croatian giant Lovren, who will be hoping to see his side to success against West Ham on Sunday.
The Hammers have won the most aerial battles in the league this season and see crosses as a major route to goal. Lovren, though, excels in the air and has managed to win 17 of his 22 aerial duels this campaign, per WhoScored.
Combined with the solid shield provided by midfielders Vincent Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin, Lovren and defensive partner Jose Fonte will fancy their chances against West Ham's limited attack. In the absence of Andy Carroll, there is nobody they will really fear in their opponent's ranks.
With Southampton averaging just under 60 percent of possession, they should control proceedings against the Hammers, who have amassed just 44 percent of the ball this season. If they can also negate the direct approach, there is a great chance of the hosts keeping a clean sheet at St Mary's Stadium.