Three FPL differentials to consider for Gameweek 8


Gameweek 8 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 Brighton and Hove Albion, Leicester City and Aston Villa 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.

MARC CUCURELLA

  • FPL ownership: 0.9%
  • Price: £5.0m
  • GW8-12 fixtures: nor | MCI | liv | NEW | avl

Spaniard Marc Cucurella (£5.0m) has impressed at Brighton and Hove Albion since his summer transfer from Getafe.

Having mostly been deployed as a wing-back, the 23-year-old made an encouraging debut against Brentford in Gameweek 4, before then being named man-of-the-match on his home debut at the Amex Stadium in a 2-1 win over Leicester City. However, his best performance of the season so far arrived against Arsenal last time out, as he thrived down the left of Graham Potter’s 3-5-2 formation, ending the match with 57 opposition-half touches, seven attempted crosses and four created chances.

Since making his first start back in Gameweek 4, Cucurella ranks fourth amongst all defenders in the division for final-third touches and sixth for expected assists (xA). Given the opposition faced – Brentford (a), Leicester City (h), Crystal Palace (a) and Arsenal (h) – those numbers stack up pretty well. He’s impressed defensively, too, with 14 tackles won, a team-leading total.

This weekend’s opponents, Norwich City, have looked particularly blunt going forward this season, scoring just one goal from open-play so far. And while their left-flank has looked vulnerable, their right-side has allowed more crosses (94) than any other team in the division. That’s encouraging for Cucurella’s small army of owners, whose delivery from wide areas is one of his main strengths. 

Brighton’s defensive form is also worth touching on here. The Seagulls have now kept clean sheets against Arsenal, Brentford and Watford, and from open-play have an expected goals conceded (xGC) total of just 3.8. For context, Manchester City are the only Premier League team with lower.

Cucurella has settled in quickly at Albion and could be an effective differential for Gameweek 8 and beyond.

KELECHI IHEANACHO

  • FPL ownership: 2.4%
  • Price: £7.0m
  • GW8-12 fixtures: MUN | bre | ARS | lee | CHE

2020/21 Fantasy favourite Kelechi Iheanacho (£7.0m) was on the scoresheet in Gameweek 7, as he marked his first Premier League start of the campaign with a goal and maximum bonus.

The Nigerian international is now in the shake-up for a start this weekend, as Leicester City take on a Manchester United side who are set to be without first-choice central defenders Harry Maguire (£5.4m) and Raphael Varane (£5.5m). That means Victor Lindelof (£4.8m) and Eric Bailly (£4.9m) are likely to feature in the heart of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defence at the King Power Stadium. 

Iheanacho was in excellent form for the Foxes during the run-in last season, as he netted 11 Premier League goals and provided two assists in his final 12 matches. Encouragingly, he also ranked top amongst all forwards per 90 minutes for goals and joint-fourth for expected goal involvement (xGI) across the entire campaign, highlighting his potential when on the pitch. 

Despite operating in a slightly deeper role at Crystal Palace in Gameweek 7, his partnership with Jamie Vardy (£10.5m) once again thrived. In fact, since March, the duo have netted a combined 18 goals in the last 15 matches that they have started together across all competitions. That could see Brendan Rodgers pair them together again on Saturday, in an attempt to revive his Leicester side, who haven’t exactly set the world alight this term.

This season hasn’t quite gone to plan for Iheanacho so far, but if he can retain his starting role in the coming weeks, could be the forward to shake up the current template.

MATTY CASH

  • FPL ownership: 3.9%
  • Price: £5.1m
  • GW8-12 fixtures: WOL | ars | WHU | sou | BHA

Aston Villa defender Matty Cash (£5.1m) has made an impressive start to the new campaign, particularly since Aston Villa shifted to a back-three formation against Chelsea in Gameweek 4.

As a result, the 24-year-old has been deployed as a wing-back in recent weeks, with plenty of freedom to get forward and contribute higher up the pitch. That was evident against Everton last month, as he netted his first Premier League goal in a 3-0 win, but also at Old Trafford in Gameweek 6, when he came agonisingly close to adding an assist for team-mate Matt Targett (£4.8m).

He’s posted some eye-catching underlying numbers, too.

Amongst all defenders, Cash ranks second for penalty area touches (18), joint-eighth for goal attempts (7) and joint-ninth for successful take-ons, while at the back, his 17 tackles won and 11 interceptions also fair well.

As for Villa, following a testing run that has included games against Chelsea (a), Everton (h), Manchester United (a) and Tottenham Hotspur (a), they now embark on a kinder run of fixtures. In fact, between Gameweeks 8 and 13, they sit fourth on our season ticker for ease of defensive fixture. It’s also worth noting that only five teams can boast a lower xGC total so far in 2021/22, while last season’s 15 Premier League clean sheets total was only bettered by Manchester City and Chelsea.

Cash has benefitted most from Villa’s recent change of shape, and could be a nice under-the-radar pick with real potential for attacking returns.

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