Full-Backs To The Future

By: Matt Sims 10th November 2018

With eight matches of the Premier League season now confined to history, we look at five Fantasy League full-backs from outside of the so-called top six teams who have impressed so far:

Adam Smith (Bournemouth)

After biding his time on the bench, Adam Smith now appears to have forced himself into a regular starting berth in the Cherries’ defence, dispossessing stalwart Simon Francis for the right-back role.

Indeed, even though Francis has been recently recalled, it was Smith who was asked to fill in for injured left-back Charlie Daniels - meaning that he has started every Premier League match so far.

Bournemouth have started the season in some style and a 4-0 win at Watford last time out cemented their position in the top half of the table.

Furthermore, Smith also scored his first goal in Cherries’ colours in the 4-2 defeat of Leicester and eight points from eight games is a fair return.

Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace)

After scoring in a 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth, Patrick van Aanholt has now scored as many Premier League goals (15) as countryman Arjen Robben. Quite remarkable.

Not only that, van Aanholt also brings about the possibility of additional attacking points in the form of assists – he set up Jeffrey Schlupp for Crystal Palace’s opening goal of the campaign against Fulham.

The Eagles are also solid defensively, having secured three clean sheets in their eight games so far this season.

However, a word of warning is that Palace are about to embark on a particularly tough stretch of fixtures which starts with an encounter at Everton followed by matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United respectively.

Ricardo Pereira (Leicester)

Danny Simpson had been highlighted as the weak link in the Leicester defence for a couple of seasons, so it was no surprise that re-enforcements came in over the summer for the right-back role in the form of Portuguese player Ricardo Pereira.

It became immediately evident in the opening match of the season against Manchester United that Pereira was more than just a full-back – he laid on a chance for Jamie Vardy with his right foot just minutes before hitting the post with his left, presenting the England striker with a tap-in consolation goal.

Since then, Pereira has largely been employed as a wide right-sided midfielder, with Daniel Amartey, who himself started his Leicester career more as a midfielder, slotting in at right-back.

As well as a further two assists since the season opener, Pereira also grabbed his first goal of the campaign with a well-worked move against Everton.

His attack-minded nature suggests that plenty more goals and assists will follow…

Pablo Zabaleta (West Ham)

Argentine veteran Pablo Zabaleta started just one of West Ham’s first four games, but played a full 90 minutes in the subsequent four matches that brought about two wins and a draw.

Zabaleta also assisted Felipe Anderson for the opening goal in a 3-1 win against Manchester City and has accumulated four points thus far.

However, the Hammers have already faced four of the top six sides, meaning that with the exception of home games against Manchester City and Tottenham, can look forward to an easy stretch of fixtures for the remainder of the calendar year.

Matt Doherty (Wolves)

Newly promoted Wolves have taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water, with Jonny Castro and Matt Doherty thriving in their wing-back roles within a 3-5-2 formation which allows them to get forward at every opportunity.

Both players have already netted a goal, but Doherty has also assisted twice during this time – amassing an impressive 19 points in his last five games and 17 in total, making him the joint fourth highest scoring full-back.

Whether Wolves can extend their honeymoon period in the Premier League remains to be seen, but early evidence is that they are able to hold their own against even the top teams in the league.


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