Spot the Differential

Fit-again Watkins can return to top FPL form in Villa’s new-look 3-5-2 formation

Gameweek 7 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is almost upon us, which gives us an opportunity to have a look at some more differential options.

This time, we’ve selected low-owned picks at Aston Villa, Arsenal and Chelsea who we think have the potential to make an impact.

As always, to qualify, the player must have an ownership of 5% or less at the time of writing.

OLLIE WATKINS

  • FPL ownership: 1.5%
  • Price: £7.3m
  • GW7-11 fixtures: tot | WOL | ars | WHU | sou

Ollie Watkins (£7.3m) was a key reason behind Aston Villa’s successful 2020/21 season, as he netted 16 goals and provided five assists in all competitions.

Ahead of the current campaign, he enjoyed a productive pre-season, but then suffered an injury which kept him out of the opening two Gameweeks. However, after a brief cameo against former club Brentford in Gameweek 3, he has now started and completed 90 minutes in every match since, and despite not scoring, has impressed.

Key to Watkins’ appeal has been a recent change of formation at Villa, which has seen Dean Smith’s troops line-up in a 3-5-2 shape. The new system enables Watkins and Danny Ings (£7.9m) to play in their favoured central roles, while also adding more stability at the back. 

At Old Trafford last weekend, Watkins forced David de Gea (£5.0m) into a couple of smart stops, with his six shots at Chelsea in Gameweek 4 highlighting his ability to trouble even the division’s best defences. A total of 10 goal attempts – including two big chances – in 281 minutes this season is encouraging, too, given the opposition.

Up next for Villa is a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, who rank 16th for xGC and 18th for shots in the box conceded since Nuno Espirito Santo took charge. To follow the fixtures detailed above, it’s also worth noting that they take on Brighton and Hove Albion (h) and Crystal Palace (a) before the end of November, so longer-term, the prospects look good.

Villa’s recent performances suggest that they are building some momentum, and as Watkins improves his match sharpness, could become a smart forward differential for our FPL squads.

EMILE SMITH ROWE

  • FPL ownership: 4.2%
  • Price: £5.3m
  • GW7-11 fixtures: bha | CRY | AVL | lei | WAT

After a challenging start to the season, Arsenal have now taken nine points from their last three games against Norwich City, Burnley and north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with the latter performance particularly impressive.

During the match, Emile Smith Rowe (£5.3m) provided a season-high haul of 12 points – via a goal, assist and two bonus – which coincided with him playing in arguably his best position.

With Martin Ødegaard (£5.5m) installed as a no. 10 in Mikel Arteta’s 4-2-3-1 formation, Smith Rowe featured off the left, but would often drift infield into more central areas where he could affect the game, with Kieran Tierney (£4.9m) supplying the width down that side. The duo combined excellently with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£9.9m) throughout, with Smith Rowe offering balance to the attack by making runs in behind, but also coming shorter to link-play.

The big question for Arsenal is: can they keep it going? Lateriser and three Gunners’ fans had a go at answering that in his recent column, which is well worth a read, and the general consensus seems to be that they can. Key to that confidence is their forthcoming schedule, which includes a run of back-to-back home matches against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Watford, Newcastle United and Southampton before Christmas.

Buying a cheap Arsenal option makes a lot of sense right now, and with fixtures easing, Smith Rowe could be an effective midfield enabler.

CESAR AZPILICUETA

  • FPL ownership: 4.1%
  • Price: £6.0m
  • GW7-11 fixtures: SOU | bre | NOR | new | BUR

With uncertainty around Marcos Alonso’s (£5.9m) minutes, investing in one of Chelsea’s more secure backline options may be the sensible move for FPL managers.

Since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment back in January, Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.0m) has started 22 of the Blues’ 25 Premier League matches – more than any other defender – and having played for just over an hour against Juventus on Wednesday night, should feature again in Gameweek 7. His ability to play as both a right-sided centre-half and wing-back is another appealing factor, too.

Across Chelsea’s opening six matches, they have conceded just two goals – a Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) penalty and a deflected Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m) shot – with clean sheets produced against Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Crystal Palace.

Azpilicueta’s defensive numbers are solid during that run, as he leads the way amongst team-mates for tackles won and clearances, and while you aren’t buying him for his attacking threat, he could chip in with the odd assist, especially if handed a wing-back role.

With Chelsea sitting top of our Season Ticker for ease of fixture between Gameweeks 7 and 14, there is real potential for multiple clean sheets, and as one of the most nailed-on options in the Blues’ backline, Azpilicueta could thrive as a defensive differential.

avfc82 https://fantasy.premierleague.com/entry/818/history”

584 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Mychro
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    2 months, 6 days ago

    I mean, I already have 2/3 players in this article - shouls I therefor also cram in ESR?

    1. Fulchester's New Centr…
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      Probably, Tom knows his sh*t

      1. Mychro
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        2 months, 6 days ago

        Sigh, fiiine, byebye Brownhill

  2. Aimar
    • 2 Years
    2 months, 6 days ago

    On a WC
    Deff : cancelo - Rudiger - Tomiyasu - livra. -**
    Mid : Øde- Salah - Saka - Raphinha - ***
    Fwd : lukaku - Jimmi - ***

    A) Son + Dias + 4.5 fwd

    B) Kane + 4,5 mid & 4 Deff

    Cheers guys

    1. Ray85
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      A definitely. Though not sure Odegaard is the best option, he's more of a number 8 and plays slightly deeper so may not get many points compared to ESR. Also depends what formation you're playing? If you're going 343 I'd downgrade Tomi to someone like Duffy and use the extra funds in midfield. You can bring in Ramsdale as GK as Arsenal's defence has tightened up.

      1. Aimar
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 6 days ago

        Am an Arsenal Fan since always
        And i know those players like odegard type will get alot of pts by time
        He is a great pick and will explode some time of the season

        Plus i like to have a variety in my plan but bench headache may kills me one week

        1. Ray85
          • 3 Years
          2 months, 6 days ago

          I'm an Arsenal fan too but Ode is more of a pre-assister. Also if Arteta starts Auba Pepe ESR and Saka on Sat, Ode will probably be even deeper, press more and not get in the box much. If you're looking for attacking Arsenal points I'd do go with Saka, ESR or even KT.

    2. Fulchester's New Centr…
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      A of those 2 but...

      1. Aimar
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 6 days ago

        But what ?

  3. Garfield1001
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 6 days ago

    1 FT. Would you wildcard this:

    Sanchez Steele
    TAA* Shaw* Ayling* Omobamidele* White
    Sarah Benrahma Raphinha Jota Brownhill
    Ronaldo Antonio Jimenez

    Thanks

    1. Fulchester's New Centr…
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      No sir I would not

      1. Garfield1001
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        2 months, 6 days ago

        What would you do?

    2. Ray85
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      No. Looking good.

      1. Garfield1001
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        2 months, 6 days ago

        What would you do?

        1. Ray85
          • 3 Years
          2 months, 6 days ago

          Depends when you're doing your wild card? If it'd imminent I'd do a 352 and get rid of Trent for Rudiger, and play Rudiger White and Shaw at the back. Shaw is likely to feature tomorrow, or make two defensive changes for -4.

          1. Ray85
            • 3 Years
            2 months, 6 days ago

            Sorry meant 343.

  4. Ronnies
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    2 months, 6 days ago

    Seriously considering Jimenez over Ronaldo as my captain this gameweek.

    1. After scoring last week I can see him kick on and get at least 2 returns Vs shitty Newcastle.

    2. Watched United Vs Villa and again last night and uniteds attack is not gelling at all.

    Thoughts?
    Cheers.

    1. Ray85
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      If you aren't going to captain Ronaldo dump him for Lukaku or Vardy. Also if you have Antonio I'd captain him over Jimmy. Jimmy could br a good differential captain pick but a risky one.

  5. Garfield1001
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 6 days ago

    Any news on Shaw?

    1. HollywoodXI
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      Southgate said he thinks it’s only an illness and not an injury. Not confirmed by United, but that sounds quite positive.

  6. Ronanm
      2 months, 6 days ago

      Currently on
      Schmeichel
      TAA, White, Marcal
      Salah, Greenwood, Sarr, Benrhama
      Ings ronaldo and Antonio

      Sanchez tsimikas Amartey gilmour with 1 transfer and 1.2m

      Was thinking to take -4 by doing TAA and Ings to Lukaku and semedo
      Then wildcarding during IB

      Or should i just to TAA to Rudgier and save the 4 points and bring in lukaku during the wildcard in the IB?

      1. Ray85
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 6 days ago

        TAA to Rudiger and save the -4. Ronaldo and Antonio are good captain options so Lukaku can wait to after the IB.

    • Kay317
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 6 days ago

      You think Benrahma starts on the weekend after playing full 90 tonight? A few had minutes managed so concerned that he didn't.

      1. KAPTAIN KANE
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 6 days ago

        They don’t have another option to they

        1. KAPTAIN KANE
          • 4 Years
          2 months, 6 days ago

          *do

          1. Kay317
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            2 months, 6 days ago

            Bowen, Fornals, Yarmo, Vlasic, Lanzini could all potentially take his spot.

            1. KAPTAIN KANE
              • 4 Years
              2 months, 6 days ago

              He’s miles better than all of them

              1. Kay317
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 2 Years
                2 months, 6 days ago

                Yes he is. And int break coming so maybe Moyes thinks he can just have a rest then.

      2. maglia rosa
        • 11 Years
        2 months, 6 days ago

        At the very least makes an early sub v's Brentford on Sunday more likely i feel. I'm certainly not keen when i see those sorta minutes for one of my mids with a good fixture this weekend......but i'm sure some luminary from the depths of the FFS community can put a case for him starting (and doing well) v's Brentford.

        1. Kay317
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          2 months, 6 days ago

          Yea I agree. Early sub for sure. Form he's on I think he has to start. But you never know. You think he's worth keeping on WC?

          1. maglia rosa
            • 11 Years
            2 months, 6 days ago

            Very possibly, i have just sold him on my WC mind 😆