The Gameweek 1 deadline is now upon us which gives us a chance to have a look at some differential options for the start of the season.
We’ve pulled out three players currently under five percent ownership who represent viable alternatives to some of the more popular assets out there.
Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m)
Ownership: 4.3 percent
There is reason to believe that Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) could match Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) in FPL this season, which could help Fantasy managers looking to save money.
The two strikers have scored the same number of goals in Arsenal’s public pre-season friendlies, with six apiece and Aubamayang just one ahead on assists (three to two).
As Lacazette’s involvements have come from slightly less time on the pitch, his minutes-per-goal involvement is remarkably similar to his Gabonese colleague. The Frenchman has averaged one every 31.37 minutes, with Aubameyang involving himself in a public pre-season strike every 32.22 minutes.
As for his position within the team, Lacazette looks likely to start as the central striker, with Aubameyang operating from an inside-left position, as has been the case this summer.
It must also be noted that Lacazette actually finished the end of last season in sensational form, as he began to develop a great relationship with Aubameyang. In his final six appearances of 2017/18 he found the net five times and produced one assist. By comparison, Aubameyang also scored the same number of goals in his last six outings of the campaign, edging the Frenchman only on assists (three to one).
In the last six Gameweeks, Lacazette also bettered Aubameyang for minutes-per-goal (90.3 to 103.6) and was close behind when it came to minutes-per-shot too (33.9 to 30.1).
Having one of the two Arsenal attackers looks to be a smart move for the beginning of the season. Their opening fixture against Manchester City has the makings of a high-scoring game and Gameweek 2 pits the Gunners against a new-look Chelsea side that look defensively vulnerable in the Community Shield final.
After those two fixtures, there are home meeting with West Ham, Everton, Watford and Leicester mixed with trips to Cardiff, Newcastle, Fulham and Crystal Palace before Liverpool come to the Emirates in Gameweek 11. That is certainly a run of matches where there are goals on offer.
In both the climax of last term and in friendlies this summer, Lacazette has demonstrated the ability to match his more esteemed colleague. This could prove hugely important for Fantasy managers as it gives them the potential to save £1.5m to use elsewhere in their squad if they were to opt for Lacazette over Aubameyang, while still investing in an attack with potential for goals.
ANDROS TOWNSEND (£6.0m)
Ownership: 2.6 percent
Andros Townsend (£6.0m) could prove to be a steady supplier of assists for Crystal Palace this season and offer a differential route into their attack, with just 2.6 percent ownership. The Englishman has impressed both in the back-end of last term and during pre-season, so considering the strength of the Eagles’ fixtures, there’s every reason to believe he is worth investing in.
In the final 10 Gameweeks of 2017/18, no midfielder in the league created more big chances than Townsend’s five. Furthermore, no midfielder from a club outside the top six managed more passes received in the final third between Gameweek 29 and 38, while only one (Riyad Mahrez) registered more touches in that area of the pitch. In that time-frame he laid on three assists, but more ruthless finishing from colleague Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) at the start of this campaign could help improve on that.
In fact, that has largely been the case in pre-season with no Palace player involved in more goals than Townsend. He provided six assists during the summer months, which is actually more than any other Premier League player managed to accrue during their respective off-seasons.
The Eagles also have the fixtures to get the best out of Townsend. No team ranks higher for attack than them on our Season Ticker in the first six Gameweeks of 2018/19, with trips to Fulham, Watford and Huddersfield alongside home meetings with Liverpool, Southampton and Newcastle.
RYAN FRASER (£5.5m)
Ownership: 1.1 percent
Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Fraser (£5.5m) could prove a shrewd investment at the start of the season as an alternative route into the Cherries’ attack.
Eddie Howe’s men have some appealing fixtures in the early part of the season which has led to 7.2 percent of managers looking to Josh King (£6.5m) for their forward lines. They host newly-promoted Cardiff on the opening day of the season before Everton and Leicester come to the Vitality Stadium. Trips to West Ham, Chelsea and Burnley are a little tougher but could still offer goals for this particularly attacking side.
Fraser can provde a cheaper alternative to King while still being central to the Bournemouth attacking output.
In the last six Gameweeks of 2017/18, only four midfielders created more chances than Fraser. Across the course of the season, he was Bournemouth’s most creative player, with 38 key passes played, at a rate of 1.6 per game. He also topped the Cherries’ charts for touches in the final third (23.5m), passes received there (14.7), successful crosses (0.7) and successful passes in the attacking third (10.5).
There is also the potential for finding the net to go alongside his assist credentials. No Bournemouth player had a higher goal conversion rate. He scored 16.9 percent of the 30 opportunities that fell his way, with King behind him on 15.7 and Wilson on 15.1.
Fraser’s strength does largely lie in his ability to create goals, though. In pre-season he was the provider of four assists, adding one of his own strikes to take his goal involvement tally of five – the same as King.
The form of the Norwegian striker also heightens Fraser’s appeal. He found the net four times over the summer and looks set for a good spell now that the Premier League is back. If he does take his chances at the beginning of the campaign, there’s a good chance he’ll be helping Fraser register assist points.
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