As the stars of the Fantasy football firmament revolve over the course of the season, we frequently find ourselves tightening our belts in one area so that we may lay on the fatted calf in another. The grave is ever beside the throne for premium picks and, as the fortunes of the rival pretenders wax and wane, an underclass of budget kingmakers is ever at hand to furnish us with the means of acquiring the most seasonable allegiances.
Those currently destitute of a certain Dutchman might be particularly anxious to lose a few pounds in their midfield midriff and, whilst Raheem Sterling represents the most fashionable celebrity diet , Wigan’s Shaun Maloney is uniquely placed to offer both an alternative and an adjunct to the lithe Liverpool wing man.
Tucked in just behind Arouna Kone in Wigan’s 3-4-2-1 system, the Scot has produced attacking returns in five of his 10 games so far – registering a goal and four assists for a total of 35 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) points. Sterling, by comparison, has registered a goal and two assists for a grand total of 33. With penalties in Maloney’s locker, plus a share of free kicks and corners, it may come as a surprise that he is currently the cheaper of the two: tipping the scales at 5.0 in FPL (although 6.9 and a striker in the Sky Sports game) compared to Sterling’s 5.2 and 4.3 respectively.
Playing for an unglamorous side and sporting an unglamorous haircut seldom yield column inches, and the gulf in ownership is a stark testament to Maloney’s comparative invisibility. Owned by just 1.6% of players compared with Sterling’s 15.6%, the Scot represents an out-and-out differential opportunity, and seems likely to remain usefully ensconced under the mainstream radar.
Last week’s assured win at White Hart Lane demonstrates the Latics’ capacity to go pound for pound with the big boys, and with home ties against West Brom and Reading in the next three, the immediate future looks bright for their attacking assets. In the medium term, the Wigan fixture list is more of a mixed bag, but a Maloney/Sterling rotation equates to (WBA, WIG, RDG, MCI, SOT, QPR, AVL, FUL) up to Gameweek 18 – the cusp of the winter wildcard season.
Offering perhaps the most potent union of open play and set piece threat in the budget bracket, yet boasting low ownership and strong fixture rotational potential – Shaun Maloney could be the key that unlocks many a transfer dilemma over the coming weeks.