Last week’s differentials piece saw us analyse five key players, who slotted into our regular ‘Differentials XI’ side, a selection of some of the best alternative picks for the gameweek.
Leicester’s Jamie Vardy was the pick of the bunch, finally getting his season properly started with a goal, assist and two bonuses. The striker, at the time owned by just two per cent of managers, had previously been hampered by a red card limiting his game time. Huddersfield provided the perfect tonic, however, and his 14-point haul flung him into the overall team of the week.
Others, like Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle, were less successful. It was a case of shining too soon for Ozil, who registered a Europa League goal in midweek, only to remain goal and assist-less come the weekend. For Schurrle, promising stats failed to materialise into points, with the more popular Aleksandar Mitrovic grabbing a goal and MOTM.
Despite some blanks, our picks still managed a very respectable total – and with some of the big guns clashing this weekend, it could be a big week for the differential.
As the round-up list below shows, the spread of bonuses was a surprise in some cases, with expected shoe-ins like Luiz missing out on passing and tackle points, while the likes of Ozil spared us a complete blank with an unexpected tackle bonus. James Milner dropping to the bench gave our ‘Mr Reliable’ no chance of continuing his rich vein of fantasy form.
How the XI performed
Key:G = goal, A = assist, CS = clean sheet, MOTM = man of the match, T2T = tier-two tackles, T2P = tier-two passing, TI/2S = shots (c) = captain
Hennessey – 9 – CS
Pereira – 0
Laporte – 10 – CS, T2T
Luiz – 7 – CS
Schurrle – 2
Seri – 7 – T1T, T2P
Ozil (c) – 8 – T1T
Fraser – 2
Milner (c) – 1
Vardy – 14 – G, A, T1T, T1S
Firmino – 4 – T1T
Turning to the weekend…
Chelsea and Liverpool’s meeting on Saturday may place a question mark on the reliability of captaining some fantasy favourites. Chelsea won 2-1 at Anfield in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, with Eden Hazard scoring a stunning winner.
These types of matches can be very tricky to call, so we will focus on some more inviting fixtures in this gameweek which might throw up some intriguing differential captains.
A second home tie for Arsenal
Midfield was our focus when it came to the Gunners last week, with uncertainty around their central midfield options seeing us look to Ozil for inspiration. While the German nearly grabbed an assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal, it was the Gabon forward and his fellow attacker, Alexandre Lacazette (11.4m/4.4%) who will have captured the attention of fantasy managers.
Aubameyang is the Arsenal player of choice for double the managers that back Lacazette. This may have been explained earlier in the season by question marks over whether the Frenchman would make the starting XI. Now, though, the less-fancied player has started the last three league games, has a double-digit score Aubameyang lacks and looks likelier to occupy the central striker position.
Lacazette also has two assists to his name, to Aubameyang’s none, and has managed an extra shot on target to boot. What’s not to like, especially as he is a viable captain choice against a Watford side who are without a win in two after their strong start?
Cardiff host Burnley in Sunday’s only match, one which hardly oozes potential when it comes to fantasy points. The way the fixtures fall, though, do allow us to select another captain/ almost any player in either squad claimable as a differential.
After a trio of tricky ties, it would be easy to forget that Cardiff recorded two clean sheets in three against weaker opposition. For this reason, we’re taking a punt on defender Sean Morrison (£6m/1.5%) who has the potential back-up of attacking returns, having twice assisted already this season. With three per cent ownership, it is surprising to see pre-overhaul favourite Callum Paterson – now bench fodder – remain the Welsh side’s most popular player.
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace is another tough-to-call fixture, with Bournemouth suffering a 4-0 spanking away to Burnley last weekend. The defeat was a complete let-down for those backing Cherries attackers.
If you fancy Bournemouth to recover, a solid differential would be Josh King (9.3m/1.56%). Ryan Fraser still remains an excellent differential pick, with 4.21% ownership, but King still has two goals and an assist to show from his last two home matches.
On the other side, Wilfried Zaha (10.2m/6.8%) still attracts relatively few backers. He has scored in each of his three away matches (though being carded in every one, too) and could be set to terrorise a team which looked shaky last time out.
Differentials XI (Under 10% ownership at the time of writing, not team’s most popular player)
Morrison (c) (6m/1.5%)
Zaha (c) (10.2m/6.8%)
Lacazette (c) (11.4/4.4%)
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