This is it, the crescendo of Newcastle’s defensive dominance.
On Tuesday night, the Magpies beat Southampton 1-0 in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
Yet another clean sheet means that Eddie Howe’s first-choice back four now occupy the top four spots in the Dream Team rankings where only defenders are concerned.
DREAM TEAM’S TOP 10 DEFENDERS
- KIERAN TRIPPIER (£6.3m) – 179 points
- FABIAN SCHAR (£4.8m) – 129 points
- SVEN BOTMAN (£4.6m) – 103 points
- DAN BURN (£4.6m) – 103 points
- Gabriel (£4.7m) – 101 points
- Joao Cancelo (£6m) – 99 points
- Thiago Silva (£5.5m) – 99 points
- Ben White (£5m) – 96 points
- Diogo Dalot (£3.7m) – 91 points
- Luke Shaw (£4.1m) – 79 points
Newcastle have kept 16 clean sheets this season, 12 of them coming in the Premier League.
As a result, Nick Pope (£5m) is the clear front runner in the race for the Golden Glove, he’s three clean sheets clear of his closest rival, Aaron Ramsdale (£4.2m), at this stage.
Naturally, the England international is also Dream Team’s outright best goalkeeper.
His overall tally of 126 points is 49 greater than that of David de Gea (£3.8m), the game’s second-best custodian at present.
Trippier remains the main man because of his sheer influence on every aspect of his side’s play.
He wears the captain’s armband almost every week, is a key contributor to the string of clean sheets, and is hugely influential to the Toon’s build-up play, creating more than his fair share of chances.
As an in-form Swiss army knife, the England international has hoarded 7+ ratings for fun, 20 of them to be precise, more than anyone else.
Crucially, he’s also pocketed a whopping SEVEN Star Man awards, one more than Kevin De Bruyne (£7.3m) and Erling Haaland (£8.8m) have collected respectively.
With an ownership of 50% Trippier is the second-most popular player in the game – only runaway points leader Haaland appears in more teams.
However, Botman and Burn feature in 6.6% and 5% of teams respectively, meaning the vast majority of gaffers have missed out on their significant returns in recent weeks.
Block picking defenders from one team has long been a legitimate tactic.
In recent seasons, backing three or four Liverpool, Chelsea or Man City defensive assets would have paid out huge dividends if timed correctly.
But 2022/23’s version feels different, probably because Newcastle players have not had European fixtures to bolster their schedule, not to mention the unexpected nature of their top four push.
How long will Newcastle’s supremacy in this field last?
Well, they’ve got Saints again at home on Tuesday before they resume league duties against West Ham then Bournemouth, two teams in the bottom five…