Some differential stars made an early case for an overhaul place this week, while disciplinary issues hampered some other potential picks.
My long pitch talking up Wolves striker Raul Jimenez over man of the moment Diogo Jota seemed to inspire the Mexican, as he took centre stage and rewarded my faith with a two-goal MOTM stint. Jota did manage an assist, keeping him on the watchlist in the final couple of games before the overhaul, but it’s the £7.9m man who looks the best bet going forward.
Messrs Digne and Zaha both saw red, despite the former only coming on after the hour mark, while a Brighton capitulation saw Duffy in the red, when it came to his points total at least.
Cherries bargain midfielder David Brooks looked impressive, though, with only a brace from Josh King preventing him from a MOTM award.
How the XI performed
Key: G = goal, A = assist, CS = clean sheet, MOTM = man of the match, T1T/T2T = tier-one/two tackles, T2P = tier-one/two passing, TI/2S = tier-one/two shots, TI/2SA = tier-one/two saves (c) = captain YC = yellow card, RC = red card, OG = own goal
David de Gea – 1
David Luiz – 1
Lucas Digne – -2 – RC
Shane Duffy – -2 – YC
Gylfi Sigurdsson – 5 – T2T
Wilfried Zaha – 5 – G, RC
Jesse Lingard – 4 – A
David Brooks – 13 – G, A, T1S
Raul Jimenez -16 – G, G, YC, MOTM
Roberto Firmino (C) – 2
Alexandre Lacazette (C) – 12 – G, YC
Liverpool’s goal record v West Ham
Liverpool face West Ham in the only game on Monday. The league leaders will be looking for a response to a disappointing draw against Leicester this week.
And in the Hammers, they may have just the opponent to make amends. Liverpool have scored four goals in each of their last four games against the London side. In those games, Mo Salah has netted four times, while Sadio Mane has scored three and Roberto Firmino (£12.2m/9.5%) once.
My team restrictions limit me to Firmino as a reliable attacking pick – and the Brazilian has seldom served me well. But there were some signs of encouragement against Leicester, as he had two shots on goal, matching Salah, but crucially both of his efforts were on target.
Given the goal-scoring record, Mane and Salah will likely be the more popular captain picks – but let’s hope Firmino gets in the mix, too.
Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez are both ruled out of my differential team, with ownership now above ten per cent.
But two other players caught my eye in GW25 and both make the cut for GW26 when Wolves travel to Goodison Park.
Jonny Otto (£6.2m/1.3%) and Joao Moutinho (£8.8m/1.6%) are the two in this week’s side. Otto, now permanently signed from Atletico Madrid, was no stranger to a tackle bonus before his knee injury – but against West Ham on Tuesday it was his offensive stats which more caught the eye.
The wing-back had three sights on goal, with a shot on target, and with the potential for both attacking and defensive returns, he could prove to be a decent alternative to his teammate on the opposite side of the pitch.
In Moutinho, we have a player who has four assists in two games, as well as a tackle bonus. A total of 53 completed passes out of 59 saw him just miss out on a passing bonus last time round. Five of those were recorded as ‘key’ passes. Meanwhile, he has shown his potential for picking up passing and tackle points, amassing tier twos for both on Boxing Day against Fulham,
Manchester City play twice this week, so covering them in your side is wise.
As ever, picking a differential from a heavily owned side is difficult, notwithstanding the rotation risk of having two games in quick succession.
This week, I’m plumping for Bernardo Silva (£9.3m/6%). I had flirted with Danilo, as well as David Silva.
While Bernardo hasn’t started the last two, he was on the team sheet for the nine before. In the last five of those games, he didn’t blank once.
A run of 4, 4, 7, 8 and 5 points shows a level of consistency when he does start and, having missed the last two, it seems a relatively safe bet to gamble on him starting at least one of this week’s games.
Differential XI (Under 10% ownership at the time of writing, not team’s most popular player)
Tom Heaton (£6.8m/0.21%)
Jonny Otto (£6.2m/1.3%)
David Luiz (£8.8m/8.17%)
Toby Alderweireld (£9.8m/1.5%)
Nathan Ake (£8.1m/3.5%)
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£9.1m/8.17%)
Bernardo Silva (C) (C) (£9.3m/6%)
Joao Moutinho (£8.8m/1.6%)
Josh King (C) (£9.3m/1.45%)
Son Heung-Min (£10.6m/3.22%) – NB. Son is expected to play some part this weekend but a starting spot isn’t guaranteed after an injury scare
Roberto Firmino (C) (£12.2m/9.5%)