The aftermath of Gameweek 4 saw many disappointed Fantasy Premier League managers, with two highly owned midfielders being ruled out. Here, I look into some alternate differential replacements for them.
Gameweek 4 began on a sour note for almost 30% of FPL managers. Sadio Mane was sent off for a karate kick on Man City goalkeeper Ederson, and subsequently suspended for 2 Gameweeeks. This mid-week, the run-up to Gameweek 5 only became worse. Paul Pogba injured his hamstring against Basel in the Champions League, and faces up to 6 weeks on the sidelines. I’m sure we’re all familiar about the usual suspects as replacements for the duo. The likes of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are as safe as you can get. But if you already own them, can’t afford them, or just want to look another way, I have 4 alternate differential replacements you can cast your eye on. This is one for the risk taking maverick managers.
1. Alexis Sanchez (£11.9m)
If you have money in the bank, or can downgrade elsewhere to make money – it can’t get much better than this man. Sanchez was the top points scorer from last season with a remarkable 264 points (second highest was 225). But till now, he has become an afterthought this season. Despite after all that’s gone on at the Emirates this summer, he’s staying put. And there’s only so long till we can ignore the man who made or broke our seasons last year. Sanchez only rests in 2.5% of all teams at the moment, and he can be the ultimate heavy hitting differential.
He might have not got his move away from Arsenal. But he’s the kind of player who’ll still give his 110% each time he walks out on the field. The Chilean forward may have thrown a sulk or two last season, but it was only because he wanted to play every minute he could. He’s shown that he’ll do the best he can too. He opened his account for this season with an incredible run followed by a magnificent finish last night against Cologne in the Europa League. And the Fixtures certainly do support the star. After this Gameweek, he faces WBA (H), BHA (H), WAT (A), EVE (A) and SWA (H). For someone who got 24 goals and 11 assists in the league last season, it can’t get much better than that.
The problem is just how we fit the second most expensive player in the game in our squads with Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Christian Eriksen and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all firing.
Also Read – Gameweek 5 Top Captain Picks – Analysis
2. Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m)
Fantasy gold two seasons back, it’s safe to say that the Leicester winger has fallen from his erstwhile grace. A 240 point season in 2015/16 was followed by a 120 point season in 16/17, as he fell from essential status to the fringes of our thoughts. But the installation of Craig Shakespeare as Leicester manager seems to have rekindled some of the old magic in Mahrez, along with a revival of sorts for his club. The Algerian playmaker has started the season in top form. He started off with 3 assists in his first 2 games, before being stunted by facing two of the league’s best defenses in Chelsea and Man Utd. He only finds himself in 5.3% of all teams.
Mahrez’s upcoming fixtures do seem extremely conducive to potential returns. The Foxes have HUD (A), LIV (H), BOU (A), WBA (H), SWA (A), EVE (H) and STK (A) in their next 7. Despite facing three of last season’s top 6 in his first four fixtures, his underlying stats look fairly decent. 10 shots, 13 crosses and 5 key passes despite 3 very tricky fixtures. Even though his wish to leave this summer was well documented, it seems like he’s putting himself in the shop window instead of sulking it out. Let’s not forget he was the PFA Player of the Year in 2015/16. And as the old adage goes, form is temporary, class is permanent. It’s just the matter of finding the class again for Mahrez, and this season, he’s more than shown signs for it. In the mid £8.0-9.0m bracket, with options slim, perhaps he could be the man.
3. Philippe Coutinho (£8.8m)
Yet another wantaway star who didn’t get his move, Coutinho showed us his electric best last season before injuries took their toll on him. But it seems like Liverpool wanted to keep their man at any cost, and they did. After all, Coutinho is staying at the Anfield. after coming on as a substitute against Sevilla in the Champions League this mid-week, a return to the starting XI could be on the horizon. And what better time to do it, with the erstwhile main man Sadio Mane suspended for 2 league games. The immediate next fixture couldn’t be better either. Burnley at home is perhaps one of the easiest fixtures you’ll get all season.
Coutinho scored at a remarkable rate of 6.84 points per game last season, so there’s no doubt about what he can do. Liverpool are still as free-scoring as they were last season, too. The Brazilian did show glimpses of his ability in the international break as he came on as a substitute to recover a draw for his side. Even though some might say that his mind is in Barcelona and he won’t give his best for Liverpool, I don’t buy into that theory. The star playmaker will know that the World Cup is coming up at the end of the season. The competition for spots in the Brazil side high as ever. He will know that nothing but his best will guarantee him a spot in the lineup in Russia.
Liverpool have fairly mixed fixtures up next. BUR (H), LEI (A), NEW (A) is followed by MUN (H), TOT (A), which is then followed by HUD (H), WHU (A) and SOT (H). In only 2.6% of all teams, Coutinho’s proven that the fixture does not impact him, and he loves a big game.
4. Michail Antonio (£7.5m)
If you want to move a price bracket down from Mane or Pogba – Antonio might just be your man. The West Ham winger remains fondly in FPL manager’s minds for how well he started last season. Antonio scored 5 goals in 4 games between GW2 and GW5, impressing one and all with his remarkable heading ability. 7 of his 9 goals last season came off the head. It did go downhill from there, with the West Ham circus playing him all around the field. He played right back, right wingback, right wing, left wing, central attacking mid, striker – you name it – before a hamstring injury took its toll. But the ex-Notts Forest man enjoyed a breakout season, earning his first cap for England.
He returned from his hamstring injury this season, notching up an assist against Southampton on his return. The speedster was extremely impressive, albeit unlucky, this Monday against Huddersfield too. Even though he didn’t get any returns, he did take away the man of the match award – which shows how impressive he was. His runs on the right flank were a sight to behold, running Chris Lowe ragged into an early substitution. He was perhaps unlucky to not get an assist early on too, when Chicharito could only turn in an Antonio cross onto the woodwork. The Hammers have finally made some signings in the transfer window. Fortunately for Antonio, they’ve signed a right back, a left winger and a striker. It seems like he could finally get another run in his favored right wing position.
His underlying stats have been fairly good too. The winger has taken 8 shots in only 3 appearances, with 8 crosses. He has also created 5 chances. His fixtures look very good too – WBA (A), TOT (H), SWA (H), BUR (A), BHA (H), CRY (A) in the next 6. In a price bracket with options slim to none, the 0.7% owned player could be a smart play.
5. Cheaper Options
You might want to further go down a price bracket, in order to perhaps make funds for Harry Kane or another big hitter. With little to no other options in the £6.0m-£8.0m bracket, it might turn out to be a prudent move. At £5.9m, Matt Ritchie is perhaps the best option in this price bracket. The Newcastle winger has notched up 2 assists in the last two Gameweeks, and has excellent fixtures coming up. With 27 crosses and 5 chances created, he’s certainly doing the work in the creative sector for the Magpies. He’s also on all set-pieces – free-kicks, corners, penalties, further enhancing his appeal.
Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (£5.6m) could be one to watch. He has been playing as a pseudo striker, switching up between winger and striker with Jese Rodriguez. His two goals against Man Utd have brought him into focus. With fixtures getting better for Stoke, he could also be a good differential.
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