Midfield Differentials

Fantasy managers always want to be a step ahead of the trending players. Last year, it was Etienne Capoue who started the season with 4 goals and 1 assist in the first 5 games, but the law of fantasy averages caught up, ending with just 3 more goals on the season. This season we’ve seen a few budget midfielders hit stride and begin to pay dividends to fantasy managers. Topping the list, Watford’s Richarlison (58) with 4 goals, 4 assist and 4 bonus points. Brighton’s Pascal Groß (58) has put up 2 goals, 5 assists and 8 bonus points through 11 gameweeks. Other notables include Abdoulaye Doucouré (52) and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (44).

Currently, my 15-man squad has both Richarlison and Groß featuring in my starting XI. While Tom Carroll does start for Swansea City, his paltry returns do have me looking for another midfielder to provide more of a punch heading in to the hectic holiday schedule. At this point in time, it’s not urgent I move him. After Gameweek 14, depending on budget an team needs, I could be in the market for another 90-minute midfielder with a bit more attacking potential.

Two midfielders I am keeping a close eye are Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert and Manchester City’s Fernandinho. While not the most household of names, Knockaert could be a real differential with a TSB% of 0.9. Fernandinho is owned by just 6.8% of fantasy managers.

Anthony Knockaert, players of the year in the Championship has been second best to teammate, Pascal Groß this season. Owned by 19.1% of managers, his 58 points have provided a steady stream of returns at £5.9. Knockaert is just as affordable at £5.7, however his returns have few and far between, just 1 goal, 1 assist and 5 bonus points for 34 points on the season.  Some key numbers for Anothony Knockaert in the last 4 gameweeks include: 99 touches in the final third, 55 passes received in the final third, 10 out of 12 successful take ons, 24 crossed, 7 successful crosses, 6 chances created, 3 big chances created, 10 penalty touches, 5 goal attempts, 4 inside the box, 2 big chances taken.

Looking at Brighton’s run of fixtures, they remain strong through the holiday period with home games against STO/CRY/BUR/WAT/BOU. They do clip 4 of the top teams in mnu/LIV/tot/che. While I wouldn’t double up on the Seagulls attack, he does offer great potential off the bench for a budget price.

At £5.2, Fernandinho is the forgotten player in the high powered Man City midfield. Owned by just 6.8% of fantasy managers, his 47 points are well off the pace of Sané (73), De bruyne (64), Sterling (62) and Silva (61). More importantly, he comes in at over £3.0 less than any of his teammate, making for a worthwhile budget addition to your midfield. His 959 minutes played are third best behind Otamendi (970) and Silva (962). Little chance of falling victim to Pep’s roulette. He’s posted 2 goals, 3 assists and 3 bonus points to go along with 6 clean sheets on the season.

Some key numbers over the last 4 games include: 427 touches, 320 total passes received, 367 total passes, 337 successful passes for 92% pass completion,  3 chances created, 1 big chance created.

Can’t go wrong with Man City assets and their run of fixtures through the end of the year is excellent.  A derby match away to Man United in Gameweek 16, followed by home tilt to Spurs are the only blemishes in a sea of green for the Sky Blues. With players risking rotation, Fernandinho could be punt that provides you a bit of holiday cheer.


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