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Chasing the Pack: How To Catch Up To Your FPL Rivals

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Some food for thought for those lagging behind in their leagues, as well as those risk takers amongst us!

Nigerian defender Ola Aina pulls the shirt of Ivorian striker Wilfried Zaha - Fulham vs Crystal Palace - Premier League
It’s time to pull-back the leaders in your FPL Leagues!
Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome! It’s now the international break which gives us a chance to take a step back, review our place in our respective FPL leagues, and decide if we need to take any action — be it drastic or just a slight adjustment. I would advise not to take any drastic actions unless you’re really struggling (and have the means to make the necessary changes). This could be a worthwhile period to use your wildcard if you haven’t already (I will be and will share next week) to help regroup and, looking at form, fixture difficulty and potential, plan ahead for the busy festive period.

It’s worth noting that because of the late season start, we’re only eight game-weeks in (with four sides on only seven), so it is still early days; plenty can change in this unpredictable season, especially with double game-week potential later on in the season. Let’s take a look at some of the key differentials to help you gain an advantage over your rivals and review those players who may be worth buying.

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Key Differentials

Viable Villains

Aston Villa proved that the 7-2 mauling of Liverpool wasn’t just a fluke, also thrashing Arsenal 0-3 at the Emirates, a game in which the Villans could’ve (and should’ve) easily had more. The West Midlanders are sitting pretty in 6th place and generally have the most appealing run of upcoming fixtures before the festive period. One thing for sure is that they’re not shy about attacking goal.

The top pick is forward Ollie Watkins, who is currently on 6.4% ownership (and rising); at £6.1Mil he is also a very appealing budget pick. The combination of low price + low ownership and good potential is welcome news to those chasing the pack. Watkins now has six goals plus an assist to his name this season, as well as six bonus points.

Midfielder Ross Barkley (£6.0Mil) has very much found his feet at Aston Villa and has a point to prove. His performances have been strong, and he has scored two goals and provided one assist so far, in addition to being awarded four bonus points. Fellow midfielder John McGinn (£5.5Mil) is even lower owned at 2.3%, and he has scored one goal and provided four assists.

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Covert Citizens

If I told you last season that Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling would be referred to as differentials, you’d think I’d be fibbing. To be fair, 15% ownership (KDB) isn’t exactly the best example of a differential, but I think relatively speaking it’s appropriate. KDB missed the chance to add to his one goal so far by missing a penalty, but we all know about this guy’s potential. It’s still early in the season, so he’s bound to really get going at some-point and add to his three assists.

Sterling has a sinking 5.8% ownership due to his poor returns (two goals, one assist) so far, but we haven’t forgotten how explosive he can be. With the exception of a couple of tough fixtures, the Citizens have some attractive fixtures. If you get in at the right time, you’ll be laughing all the way to the top. The injury-hampered Sergio Aguero (10.3Mil) is due to return after the international break for a run of appealing fixtures. His ownership is currently 1.2%, so this could be the ultimate differential if he returns to form.

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Red Devil’s Delight

It’s bit a turbulent for Manchester United so far this season, with the recent rumors surrounding the managers job following some poor results and performances. Forward (but FPL Midfielder) Marcus Rashford (£9.6Mil) is lowly owned at 8.5%, and we’re all aware of his strong returns last season (17 goals, 7 assists) and the potential he offers — his two goals and three assists still gives us reason to be optimistic. Forward Antony Martial (£8.7Mil) has an even lower ownership at 3.8% and is very much a forgotten fantasy man following a suspension and a few weeks with an injury. If Man Utd are to turn things around, these two guys are pivotal.

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The Rest

Crystal Palace defender Patrick Van Aanholt has recently returned from injury and looks like his sharp self once more, providing the usual attacking potential (picking up an assist in his last game-week) for an Eagles side that has impressed. He has an unbelievably low ownership of 0.5% and is affordable at £5.4Mil.

Everton forward Richarlison (£7.8Mil) will return after sitting out three game-weeks on suspension. His ownership is currently 3.8% and could provide great value to prospective owners.

Southampton duo Stuart Armstrong (£5.5Mil) and Che Adams (£5.9Mil) are expected to fill the void left by the injury to talisman Danny Ings due back at Christmas. They’re playing on an in-form Saints team, combining for four goals and five assists so far. Armstrong’s ownership is 0.4%, Adams’ less than 5%.

West Ham’s recent defensive signing Vladimir Coufal (£4.5Mil) has adapted well to the EPL, registering two assists plus five bonus points already. His ownership sits at 1.5%. Fellow new Hammer, Saïd Benrahma (£6.0Mil) has started brightly, registering an assist but still at a fantastically low 0.2% ownership.

Budget Wolves midfielder Daniel Podence (£5.5Mil) seems to be more productive lately, scoring a goal while providing two assists. Wolves have some tough fixtures, but Podence’s performances have been strong. 3.8% ownership makes him a real differential.

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Time to say Goodbye?

Recent seasons’ defensive stand-out, Trent Alexander-Arnold, is a shadow of his former FPL self. He currently sits at an stubbornly high ownership of over 27%. The Liverpool wing-back has only one lonely assist to his name this season, and Liverpool are not the clean-sheet fortress they were last season (not helped by Virgil Van Dijk being maimed by Jordan Pickford). With a price-tag of £7.4 and sinking, I wouldn’t hesitate to dump TAA.

On the other wing, Andrew Robertson has been better value so far (priced at £7.1Mil currently) with a goal and two assists. Looking elsewhere, Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell, reasonably priced at £6.0, offers much more value. Likewise Man City’s Cancelo (£5.4Mil) with 1.9% ownership!

Son Heung-Min is difficult to include, as he has been in electric form this season. The explosive winger has convinced FPL players with the highest ownership in the game — just under 60%. But Son has blanked in the last two game-weeks. and Tottenham has a relatively difficult run of fixtures leading up to the festive season. Son may score, but you could risk taking him out to gain some ground, especially if you keep Harry Kane for Spurs cover. You may want to look to the considerably less-owned Bruno Fernandes (23%) who looks to be coming into some strong form once again. Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech (£8.1Mil) is also viable with an ownership of 12% and starting to show good results.

Raul Jimenez is clearly a seasoned EPL striker who has provided reasonable returns (four goals). However, he has blanked in the last couple of game-weeks, and he has a few tough fixtures coming. At £8.4Mil it may be worth sending Jimenez on for some of the viable budget picks out there.

Wolves teammate Romain Saïss looks to have lost his place in the fold; his ownership has fallen 18% so drop him before his price declines.

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What do you think of our differentials? Do you have any good tips and predictions? Please let us know your thoughts and tactics in the comments below!

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