With his recent FPL form far below his early-season peak, FPL managers are asking if it's time to sell Trippier. For me, the answer is a resounding 'No'. This essay explains why.
This essay will critically discuss whether Kieran Trippier has declined as an Fantasy Premier League asset to the point we should remove him from our FPL teams. It will look at Trippier’s form, fixtures and points potential for the remaining six gameweeks of the season, compare Trippier to the possible alternatives in his position and weigh up their various merits, before declaring what is, in all honesty, a pretty obvious conclusion. Sometimes, though, people need to know why their decision is correct, and this essay will explain why Trippier must remain in our teams.
For the first twenty-one gameweeks of the season, Kieran Trippier was the best defensive asset in the history of FPL, scoring a huge 146 points and making a mockery of his initial £5m transfer cost. His attacking returns were solid, with one goal and five assists in this time, but it was his clean sheets and bonus points that made the difference, with a huge fifteen clean sheets and 31 bonus points in this time. His chance creation statistics are the major driving force behind his bonus points accumulation, with Trippier level with Kevin de Bruyne for chances created this season on 92, and only Bruno Fernandes within 26 chances of the Premier League’s leading opportunity architects. Between Gameweeks 14 and 21, Trippier picked up a remarkable 21 bonus points from 24 available, a record that is surely unmatched in Premier League history, a run that saw him pick up 75 points from eight games and set him on course to be the highest-scoring defender in FPL history.
However, since Gameweek 21, Trippier’s points accumulation rate has undeniably declined. The previously-impenetrable Newcastle defence, one in which Trippier kept ten clean sheets in eleven Premier League matches, has now kept just one clean sheet in its last twelve matches. Though the defence is still very tight, with eight of those twelve matches seeing only one goal conceded, all it takes in FPL is one goal to clear the four points from a defensive asset’s ledger and vastly reduce bonus points potential, even for someone as creative as Trippier. Indeed, since Gameweek 21, Trippier has only provided two assists, kept one clean sheet and secured just three bonus points, and on the FPL form table based on the last five games, he is ranked twentieth for defenders, with even his teammate Fabian Schar – who had a long-range goal cruelly ruled out last night – ahead of him.
However, when assessing somebody’s value as an FPL asset, the past can only inform our decisions, and it is the future that matters. In Trippier’s case, the future looks promising. A plum home fixture against bottom-club Southampton is next up, followed by a home tie against a deflated and psychologically-tormented Arsenal team who Newcastle thrashed 3-0 last season, and who they kept a clean sheet against at the Emirates when they were in their pomp. A double-gameweek that features a trip to the woeful Leeds and a home tie against Brighton follows, before a home game against Leicester and concluding against a Chelsea team in disarray who have only one goal in their last five league games and who have only one goal in all competitions under interim coach Frank Lampard. Barring an anomalous defeat to Aston Villa, Newcastle are in impressive form, with seven wins in eight league matches, seventeen goals in their last five league games, including games where they scored four, five and six goals, and ten goals in the last four days. When many expected Newcastle to stumble towards European qualification, instead they are accelerating towards it and thriving in the spotlight. Furthermore, in the reverse fixtures of those they have remaining, Newcastle kept five clean sheets in six matches, and only conceded against the sixth team after Trippier was withdrawn, meaning he got six clean sheets from six while also picking up two assists, securing 54 points from those fixtures, which included fourteen bonus points from a possible eighteen.
So, the big question is, why did Trippier’s points accumulation drop off? The answer lies in the make-up of the Newcastle team. When he went on that run of 75 points in eight gameweeks, Newcastle operated with Joelinton and Almiron as wingers, with the Paraguayan’s link-up with the England man critical to Newcastle’s attacking potential, and the defensive work-rate of the two wide men pivotal to their resolute defence. It’s no coincidence that Trippier’s points went into decline once Allan Saint-Maximin returned to the team, with the mercurial French winger’s presence seeing Newcastle start conceding. Almiron’s injury did not help matters, with Murphy not offering the same link-up and defensive work-rate as the man he stood in for. However, the Everton game last night saw Almiron and Joelinton make their first starts together since Gameweek 21, and the only goal Newcastle conceded was a freak inswinging corner that somehow crept into the net.
With the South American stars back in the starting XI, Trippier’s points potential improves exponentially. Adding to that potential is the form of both Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson, who are competing furiously for the lone striker role and smashing in the goals, with thirteen goals in seven games between the pair. Trippier not only has the wingers that maximise his defensive potential, but two strikers desperate to get on the end of his many created chances. Indeed, when it comes to expected assists, the defender with the second-highest xA is Trent Alexander-Arnold, a full two assists behind (9.63 xA to 7.63), while only four players – Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Perisic and Schar – are within five goals of Trippier’s expected goal involvement total, and all four trail him by a considerable margin.
So, the argument for keeping Trippier looks particularly strong, despite his recent form, but we must also consider the alternatives. Now, with three double gameweeks remaining and Trippier featuring in one of them, we can safely rule out all defenders who do not have a double, because it makes no sense at all to remove someone with six games to play for someone with five. That leaves us considering the merits of the following defences: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Brighton and Hove Albion, Fulham, Chelsea and West Ham United.
Chelsea and Fulham defenders can be dismissed without much thought. Fulham have kept no clean sheets in eight games, and their defensive options have one attacking return combined since Gameweek 18. Chelsea have only two clean sheets in eleven games, they have none under the tactically-bereft Frank Lampard, their team selections are inconsistent at best and they don’t double until Gameweek 37, where they face both Manchester clubs before finishing against Newcastle. West Ham defenders look better options than their London rivals, with four clean sheets in nine games and a double in Gameweek 34, but both of their matches are away from home, and one is against Manchester City before a Gameweek 35 tie against Manchester United. Furthermore, none of their defenders have more than three attacking returns all season. The likes of Zouma, Cresswell and Coufal may be decent options as cover or as a cheap option to liberate funds elsewhere, but it is fanciful at best to suggest they will outscore Trippier in the run-in, and given they travel to Manchester City, Trippier has every chance of outscoring them in Gameweek 34 even with only one fixture.
Where it gets more interesting is the teams from further up the table. Brighton, with two extra fixtures to Trippier, are full of appeal on the surface. However, Estupinan, their best defensive option, has no attacking returns since Gameweek 23, while Dunk, the best alternative, has only two all season. Both are over eighty points behind Trippier overall, and the extra games may well prove as much of a hindrance as a help, if fatigue or rotation become a factor. Even if they don’t, Brighton only have three clean sheets in ten games, and of the six fixtures in their double gameweeks, four are against the current top four teams. It’s worth keeping their assets if you own them, but if you were bringing one in, the man to sign is the goalkeeper, Steele, who costs just £3.9m.
Liverpool are a more intriguing option, and Alexander-Arnold is a must-have, with five assists in the four games since his role switched to that of an inverted full-back. Their double being this gameweek also offers the potential for a switch from Trippier to Robertson or van Dijk before reversing the transfer for Newcastle’s double in Gameweek 36, but those two have been shadows of their former selves this campaign, with only six attacking returns between them all season, and Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven games. However, Robertson has two assists in his last two appearances, and Liverpool have four home fixtures in their last six games, including two in Gameweek 34. It must be noted, though, that Spurs have only failed to score once in fourteen games, and Fulham have six goals in the five games since Mitrovic was suspended, so a clean sheet is by no means guaranteed. Given the potential of Liverpool’s attacking threat, doubling-up on their defence seems a non-optimal move, especially given the form Jota is in.
Assuming you want a three-man defence – and, given the double gameweeks ahead, it’s certainly the best approach – and you have Alexander-Arnold as one of those three, it’s the two Manchester clubs that offer the biggest argument to selling Trippier. Manchester United have Dalot available for £4.7m, who has played both full-back positions and scored in Gameweek 31. They have Shaw for £5.1m, and though he is playing centre-back, he is on set-pieces. They are injury-hit at present, but that may make it easier to gamble on someone like Dalot, or even the £4.1m Lindelof, if you wanted to free up funds. However, in Gameweek 34’s double, they play Aston Villa and Brighton, who are both excellent attacking teams, and though Shaw is on set-pieces, he has only two attacking returns since Gameweek 20, while Dalot has only three all season. That being said, even in this injury-hit spell, they have six clean sheets in nine games, and two in three since Varane was injured.
Manchester City also have two double gameweeks, and the toughest fixture they have remaining is a game against Brighton as part of Double Gameweek 37. John Stones is also making a strong claim, with two goals in his last two games at £5.5m. However, the usual problems with Manchester City assets remain. Squad rotation is an issue, with Stones playing fewer than sixty minutes twice in the last three gameweeks, as Pep Guardiola looks to manage their workload. Fixture congestion is another issue, with a huge upcoming double-header against Real Madrid in the Champions League. Furthermore, their defensive strength has waned considerably this season, with only four clean sheets in nineteen games and only two in the last eleven fixtures – a record identical to that of Chelsea. Only Ruben Dias has played more than sixty minutes in each of their last five fixtures, and his attacking threat is non-existent, with zero attacking returns this season.
In conclusion, it is clear that there are no all-round great defensive assets in FPL at the minute. Alexander-Arnold is providing great attacking threat, and Stones has added goals to his game, but their clean sheet potential is limited. Shaw’s attacking threat is stunted by his positional change, while Dalot’s – despite the goal last weekend – is somewhat minimal. Brighton defensive assets, both this season and historically, have flattered to deceive, especially in double gameweeks. However, Trippier’s own FPL form has decreased considerably since Gameweek 21, with only three returns of any kind in that time.
So, should you sell Kieran Trippier? The answer, to me at least, is a resounding ‘No’. Although his form looks troubling, the factors that previously made it so strong have now returned to the Newcastle team. Newcastle are a team chasing an incredible achievement for them, and are looking stronger as the games go by. Could other players outscore him? Of course, and a few players likely will. However, when you look at the options laid out, it’s clear to me the best defence is Alexander-Arnold, Trippier plus one other, with who that is dependent upon the make-up of the rest of your squad. If you have Ederson in goal, then Estupinan, Dalot or Shaw is the best. If you have de Gea, then Stones, Dias or Estupinan should be your pick. If you have Steele, then a Mancunian defender should complete your line-up. You want your goalkeeper and defence to consist of Alexander-Arnold, Trippier, one Brighton player and whichever Mancunian player you prefer. For me, it’s de Gea and Estupinan, for you, it may be different.
Kieran Trippier has had a lean spell, but he remains the best defensive option in the game. He has the most points, by a long way. He has the most attacking threat, by a long way from all but Alexander-Arnold. He has huge bonus points potential. His team have four home games in six, and he picked up 54 points in the return fixtures. He is closing in on the FPL points record for a defender. In a double gameweek where he has a single fixture, it is a home tie against a bottom club doomed to relegation. Plus, he’s a strong captaincy contender in Gameweek 36. If you don’t have him, you need to be bringing him in. If you already own him and you’re thinking of selling him, you’re just asking for trouble, at a time in the season when the chance of recovery grows ever smaller.
To do well in FPL, it’s less about brave calls and more about avoiding silly mistakes. Whatever you do, avoid making one of the silliest, most obvious mistakes you can. Keep Kieran Trippier in your team, and make your brave decisions in midfield and attack, where they can have the most impact.
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Having completed the FPL Nightmare book trilogy, Lawes no longer provides weekly updates on his progress. Instead, he occasionally offers advice to his fellow FPL managers.
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