In a season characterised by highly-owned premium assets disappointing their owners, differentials continue to grow in importance.
In fact, Sadio Mané (£11.7m) was the only player priced over £9.5m to feature among the top 50 points-scorers in Gameweek 8.
This just goes to show that there is still plenty of success available to those prepared to move away from the tried and test options.
Even the popular choices can have off days and you can’t always over-rely on them, especially if they all choose to blank at once.
So with an international break’s worth of time behind us, it’s time to reset and re-appreciate some differential options for Gameweek 9…
GW9 Opponent: Sheffield United (away)
It’s probably a hard-sell to champion a player that is priced over £9.0m and has only two attacking returns since Gameweek 4 but I feel that more is still to come from Nicolas Pépé (£9.3m).
After all, he registered 22 goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1 last season.
While it is unlikely he will replicate those numbers in his debut Premier League campaign, Pépé has the quality to excel in this attacking Arsenal team so long as he can continue to adapt to life in English football.
So far this season, he has received more passes in the final third (97) than both Mason Mount (81) and James Maddison (79). With a bit of refinement that presence in the most important part of the pitch could be converted into goals or assists.
From a Fantasy perspective, the main concern about Unai Emery’s Arsenal is the inevitable rotation and minute-management caused by the club’s Europa League commitments.
Pépé may have started every league game for Arsenal since Gameweek 3, however, he hasn’t played a full match since Gameweek 6. To complicate matters, Alexandre Lacazette is nearing a return to full fitness which could also have an impact on his minutes in the long term.
With that said, an opportunity presents itself for him to put in a match-winning performance in Gameweek 9 when the Europa League has had a break and Lacazette might not be risked from the start.
Arsenal have only lost once to Sheffield United in a league match since 1973 while the Blades have only kept one clean sheet at home this season.
Given Arsenal’s attacking play, it could prove difficult for Chris Wilder’s men to keep them out on Monday night.
GW9 Opponent: Brighton (home)
Any striker that has scored three goals in as many games can be considered is worth considering for any FPL manager.
After only registering one goal in his first five games, Wesley (£6.1m) is coming to the fore as he continues to settle into life at Aston Villa.
The former Club Brugge forward’s five attacking returns mean he has been involved in almost 40% of his team’s Premier League goals in 2019/20.
Without any other strikers to rival him in the team, it’s relatively safe to say that Wesley free from the risk of rotation.
With the likes of Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi providing ample support you would expect him to be a threat to opposition teams.
Up next for Aston Villa will be Brighton who have improved defensively having kept two clean sheets since Gameweek 6.
However, the Seagulls have at times shown defensive frailty away from home as seen with the Etihad and Stamford Bridge this season, which bodes well for Wesley.
GW9 Opponent: Aston Villa (A)
If it wasn’t enough to have one differential striker from a mid-table team to ponder over, here’s another one featuring in the same match.
Neal Maupay (£6.0m) started his Premier League debut campaign with a bang after he came off the bench and scored a goal in Gameweek 1.
Ever since then his minutes on the pitch have become more regular and he’s gradually becoming one of Brighton’s more reliable attacking assets under Graham Potter.
It’s probably unfair to over analyse his stats from one isolated match, however in Gameweek 8 (among all strikers), he had the most number of touches in the opposition half (44) and the joint-second number of touches in the final third (30).
All of this hard work proved fruitful as he scored a goal against Tottenham in a resounding win at the Amex.
However, despite his pedigree of scoring over twenty goals in the Championship last season, he has yet to even score back-to-back goals in the Premier League.
The lack of consistency at present puts a small question mark over him but it certainly doesn’t make him prone to being dropped.
To put it simply, I can’t see Glenn Murray challenging him any time soon for his berth up top.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Aston Villa have conceded six goals in their last two games and if there was a moment for Maupay to start the wheels of his future bandwagon this could be it.
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