The Spicy Squad 2018 – A full 11 man team of differentials

4:49pm Aug 3 2018

Fantasy Premier League picks from Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea feature on @FPLBandit’s pre-season differentials list

Fantasy Football Fix

Getting points from a player that you own that few other managers do (aka a differential) is one of the hardest things to get right, but also the most exciting when it pays off.

I, @FPLBandit, will be running through a full squad of 11 players that has a combined ownership of  around 19% at the time or writing.

It would, however, be completely reckless to field all of these lads at once, but hopefully you can find a couple to suit your needs ahead of Gameweek 1.

Please note that all ownership percentages were correct at the time of writing so, if the FPL market has moved slightly, I can only apologise but, there’s unlikely to be much fluctuation right now.


Goalkeeper

Bernd Leno (Arsenal) – £5.0m | 3.2% ownership

New boy Leno is expected to start between the sticks for the Gunners this season and he’s been priced kindly. In fact, we haven’t had a first choice goalkeeper for a Top 6 side priced this well for years, have we?

Sure, Arsenal have hardly been an example of world-class defending in recent years, but with a new manager at the helm, organisation of the back line will surely be nearer the top of Emery’s list of priorities.

Arsenal do have a couple of rough games to start with (Man City at home and then Chelsea away) but after that, they’ve got a ripe run of fixtures which shouldn’t be ignored.

If Arsenal do look like improving on last season’s disappointment, then Leno at £5.0m could be an option we all swiftly jump to.

Defenders

Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace) – £5.0m | 1.2% ownership

A Crystal Palace defender for £5.0m may not feel the most appealing, but give Mama a chance for one huge reason – bonus points.

Despite being out of action for a good chunk of last season, Sakho still managed 18 bonus points – that’s 1 less than Phil Jones, just 3 behind Otamendi who seemed to score every other week and more than Alonso, Monreal or Davies managed.

If he can stay fit for the season, not only will that bonus tally rise but Palace could well prove to be a more solid side defensively.

It’s tempting I know to go for one of the cheaper options (Tomkins at £4.5m or Wan-Bissaka at £4.0m) but I think Sakho will prove his worth and is going on my watch list for sure.

Aymeric Laporte (Man City) – £5.5m | 0.9% ownership

The Man City centre back partnership is definitely an unknown quantity at this stage, but the one thing we do know is that Pep will unlikely be starting the season with any World Cup players.

Laporte, who was a January signing for City last season for a staggering £57m is surely expected to get a whole host of minutes this season – he has the first few weeks to earn his place before Stone and Co. return.

He may well not be an option for the long-term given the depth they have in his position, but certainly a viable, good value pick to start your season with.

Possibly best to keep an eye on this weekend’s Community Shield lineup before committing to him.

Paul Dummett (Newcastle) – £4.5m | 0.2% ownership

In terms of clean sheets last season, Newcastle United’s record was hardly anything to write home about, but they were still a very sturdy looking back line.

Having a bad habit of conceding just the one goal from only a couple of attempts, hopefully Rafa can continue to whip them into shape – and new signing Schar is surely an improvement to Clarke and Lejeune.

Yes, Newcastle’s opening fixtures are simply dreadful, but Dummett is absolutely nailed, being the only left back in the squad so could be a good addition to your FPL squad (bench fodder or rotated) for the long-term.

Midfielders

Anthony Martial (Man United) – £7.5m | 1.3% ownership

Full disclosure – Martial is only an option for the first 3 gameweeks, maximum, and as a very short-term option, none are better than Anthony Martial in my opinion.

At £7.5m, you could well be getting a midfielder playing in the striker position with a decent first three fixtures (Leicester and Brighton who are less than convincing defensively and a tougher game away to Spurs) who is more than capable of getting a double return at any given time.

Ultimately, if you’re willing to take a risk somewhere in your squad, it makes more sense to take that gamble in an attacking player’s position.

A risky defender who probably won’t play when the World Cup squad players return (e.g. Luke Shaw) has a potential upside of a couple clean sheets and maybe one attacking return in the first 3 games, what are you really gaining there over your opponents who might own someone more reliable like De Gea anyway?

Point being, if Martial gets a few returns, nobody else does and that’s why you want a differential in the first place.

The above all assumes that Jose isn’t still upset Martial who apparently took a bit too much time off for the birth of his child – big assumption I know.

Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) – £7.5m | 2.3% ownership

If you’ve had an FPL team for more than a year, chances are you’ve owned Sigurdsson at some stage.

Sigurdsson’s opening season for the Toffee’s didn’t exactly grab headlines, which is exactly why his ownership is so low at the start of this season.

In stark contrast to Martial, Sigurdsson is the type of player you’ll have to be patient with – on set-pieces and potentially penalties, his points are more likely to be smaller, but more consistent over the season.

If Marco Silva’s impact on Everton is expected to be in his attacking mindset, then who better to own than the play-maker in the centre of the park?

James Maddison (Leicester City) – £6.5m | 0.8% ownership

Leicester have lost their talisman, and whilst not a direct replacement, Maddison comes with bags of creativity and will help fill the void Mahrez has left behind.

Vardy, who is borderline famed for his ability to find the back of the net despite having very few chances, will have Maddison behind him, who was prolific in terms of chances last season.

For Norwich last season, Maddison managed an average of 3.05 chances created per 90 minutes – that’s much more than Mahrez (1.77 per 90) and even more than Kevin de Bruyne (2.81 per 90), so if Vardy can continue to convert as he always has, Maddison could see himself right near the top of that assists table by the end of the season.

Pedro (Chelsea) – £6.5m | 2.0% ownership

Raising the eyebrows of plenty of Fantasy Premier League managers in pre-season is Chelsea winger, Pedro.

Making decisions purely based off pre-season is never a recommended strategy, but Pedro’s 2 goals in 2 games only help but proves his main selling point – when he plays he gets goals.

Both Hazard and Willian’s uncertain futures will be determined in the next 2 weeks but a move for either player, let alone both, should open the door for more minutes for Spaniard.

We all need to keep an eye on him whilst his ownership is miniature, but that won’t last long if he’s destined for more game time.

UPDATE: today (3rd of August, 2018) Chelsea announced that Pedro has signed a new contract extension at the club. Promising.

Forwards

Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – £9.5m | 4.3% ownership

Out of all the players in this season’s ‘Spicy Squad’, Lacazette is the player I’m most surprised to see his ownership so low.

Arsenal (including Lacazette) had very little World Cup representatives so will be well rested, compared with many of their Premier League counterparts.

Expected to start at the tip of the spear with Ozil/Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang on the wings, I’m expecting Arsenal to hit the ground running and Alexandre to play the vital role.

Sure, in pre-season he didn’t start every game, as the new Arsenal boss experimented with various setups and partnerships – but I’m confident Lacazette will get the nod up top.

Alexander Sørloth (Crystal Palace) – £5.0m | 0.5% ownership

As more FPL managers move towards spending less of their £100m budget on their forward line, we’re in the hunt for a budget striker and I think Sørloth could be our man.

With Benteke potentially injured for Gameweek 1 and Zaha not necessarily playing up front (as well as being linked with a move away to Spurs, Chelsea and Man United), it looks like Sørloth will be getting his time to shine – at least in the early stages of the season anyway.

In the few minutes he got last season, he failed to record a Premier League goal but with some decent form in pre-season, the tall and pacey forward is a justifiable budget option for your forward line.

Chris Wood (Burnley) – £6.5m | 2.3% ownership

European giants Burnley have their Premier League schedule at risk of being jam-packed with their Europa League campaign getting underway.

For this reason, plenty of Burnley assets are being overlooked, but if Burnley can’t get through the 2nd leg of their Europa League tie with Aberdeen, it’s service as usual and the Carets are rife with differential options.

The pick of the bunch for me is the ex-Leeds man, Chris Wood. With a stellar debut season under his belt, Wood has proven he’s got what it takes to be a reliable goal scorer.

At 0.58 goals per 90 minutes last season, that’s a very sustainable total for the upcoming season and more than enough for what you want from that price bracket.

He’s impressed in pre-season too, for what it’s worth and with Austin, Zaha, Tosun and Aranutovic the only other decent(ish) options available in Woods’ price-bracket, I think Wood is the pick of the bunch.

Many thanks ladies and gentleman, boys and girls for taking the time to read my article here on Fantasy Football Pundits – if you wish to continue the discussion or have any questions, be sure to reach out to me on Twitter – @FPLBandit

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