Fantasy Premier League managers could turn to Manchester City, Aston Villa or Crystal Palace to replace their Liverpool defenders for Gameweek 9.
Key members of the Reds’ back-line leave teams in their droves following the international break, so we have used this week’s Differential column to identify three exciting replacements; all of whom we think have the ability to deliver points at both ends of the pitch over the forthcoming weeks.
As always, to qualify, the player must have an ownership of 5% or less at the time of writing.
- FPL ownership: 2.4%
- Price: £5.4m
- GW9-13 fixtures: tot | BUR | FUL | mun | WBA
João Cancelo (£5.4m) endured a tough first season in England, but is now starting to shine.
Since making his first Premier League start of the campaign in Gameweek 5, the Portugal international has amassed 24 FPL points, averaging six per game. In that time, he has registered two clean sheets and, despite only providing one assist, has created more chances than any defender in the entire division.
Having performed as a right full-back in his first appearance against Arsenal, he has since been deployed on the left in Benjamin Mendy’s (£5.9m) absence. It remains to be seen what will happen when the Frenchman returns from injury, but given Cancelo’s excellent form, it is hard to see an immediate route back into the team.
Since losing 5-2 to Leicester City back in September, Manchester City have conceded just four goals in nine games in all competitions, keeping five clean sheets. While many FPL managers will be looking at Gameweek 10 as the optimum time to invest in their backline, there could be value in going a week early, given Matt Doherty’s (£5.8m) positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test, and the fact most of Tottenham Hotspur’s chances tend to be conceded from their right-side.
Manchester City’s left-back problem has been a theme throughout Pep Guardiola’s time at the club, but the recent form of Cancelo has perhaps provided a solution. Consistency will now be the key to retaining his place, but if he can do that, it’s hard to envisage him being a differential too much longer.
- FPL ownership: 2.4%
- Price: £4.5m
- GW9-13 fixtures: BHA | whu | NEW | wol | BUR
Matt Targett (£4.5m) has been a solid performer for Aston Villa since joining from Southampton in 2019, making the left-back spot his own.
A product of the Saints academy, he has played a key role in a defence that has already kept four clean sheets in seven attempts this season, and perhaps doesn’t get the praise his performances often deserve.
The Englishman is yet to miss a single minute of league action so far, and with Jack Grealish (£7.5m) regularly drifting infield in front of him, plenty of space often opens up for him to attack. He’s got a good delivery too, which he showed in flashes against Arsenal last time out, when he provided the cross that was turned in by Bukayo Saka (£5.3m) for Villa’s first goal in their 3-0 win.
Interestingly, the 25-year-old scored his first goal for the club when he netted an injury time winner against this weekend’s opponents, Brighton and Hove Albion, back in October 2019.
This time, with Tariq Lamptey (£4.8m) likely to surge forward for Albion and support their attack, Targett could have his hands full defensively on Saturday, but at the same time, gaps could appear if space is left in behind. That has certainly been the case so far this season, with the Seagulls giving up 17 of their 42 chances down their right-flank, compared to just nine from the left.
Still priced at just £4.5m, Targett offers the cheapest route into Villa’s defence, and could be a solid set and forget option given their appealing fixtures.
Patrick van Aanholt
- FPL ownership: 0.7%
- Price: £5.4m
- GW9-13 fixtures: bur | NEW | wba | TOT | whu
Having just returned from a long-term injury, Patrick van Aanholt (£5.4m) looked back to his best against Leeds United before the international break.
The Dutchman supplied an assist and carried plenty of goal threat, registering three shots in the box. Determined to get forward at every opportunity, his attacking runs created space for Eberechi Eze (£5.8m) and Wilfried Zaha (£7.4m) to thrive and gave them a cutting edge which has been missing without him in the team.
In his absence, Tyrick Mitchell (£4.1m) has impressed, but it was evident against Leeds just how much they’ve missed the 30-year-olds attacking nature, which leads us to think he’ll retain his place in the starting XI come Monday.
Despite often struggling in attack, Crystal Palace have had a bright start to the season. They sit eighth in the table, and looking at the run of games coming up, they have the potential to pick up points given the struggles of goal-shy Burnley and West Bromwich Albion, and to a slightly lesser extent Newcastle United.
In Gameweek 8 there were signs of progress. The expectation now is that results should pick up, and with the possibility of goals and clean sheets, at least in the short term, van Aanholt could be a nice pick-up for those in search of a differential currently owned by just 0.7% of FPL managers.
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