There was a changing of the guard in Dream Team this weekend that may have gone unnoticed.
Having led the way among goalkeepers since the first month of the season, Nick Pope (£4.2m) has finally been dethroned, with David de Gea (£3.9m) taking up the mantle.
Neither man kept a clean sheet but the Spaniard leapfrogged the England international by virtue of a 7+ rating against Fulham, something Pope failed to achieve away to Nottingham Forest on Friday night.
De Gea now holds a slim one-point lead over Newcastle’s custodian (122 points to 121) but with Man United still active in the FA Cup and the Europa League, it seems likely the former will finish as the top asset in his position given the extra fixtures at his disposal.
This ascension links to a question tens of thousands of Dream Team gaffers have been asking of late: where have Newcastle’s clean sheets gone?
The Magpies haven’t repelled their opponents since January 24th when they beat Southampton 1-0 in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie.
They have conceded in eight consecutive fixtures since which, naturally, has resulted in a serious drop-off in returns for Pope and the defenders ahead of him.
Kieran Trippier (£5.8m) remains the leading asset in his position by a huge margin (67 points to be exact) but it’s notable that he’s registered just 16 points across his last eight outings – an average of two points-per-game in this spell represents a massive reduction from his season average of 5.7.
For a long time, Fabian Schar (£3.8m) held second place among defenders but he’s recently been overtaken by Luke Shaw (£4.4m), Ben White (£4.3m) and Gabriel (£3.9m).
The Swiss centre-back has incurred minus three points across his last eight games!
Eddie Howe’s side still boast the best defensive record in the Premier League having conceded just 19 goals in 2022/23, six fewer than Man City, and no goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets than Pope but Dream Team bosses should always pay attention to recent form.
Trippier and company have provided twice as many points as expected this season but it’s simply a fact that Arsenal, Man City and Man United defenders (even with the 7-0 thumping at Anfield) have all proved to be better options in the last two months.
Pope, Schar and Trippier are all among the most-popular assets in their position but their backers have a decision to make during the international break.
In regards to the England right-back, his ability to earn regular 7+ ratings without clean sheets, plus his creative output, means he’s got more credit in the bank than his peers but the others probably need to go.