Assessing differential prospects as FPL managers contemplate life without Mo Salah
Fantasy Premier League managers will have some tough decisions to make ahead of GW9 and this is likely to be compounded by the fact that they face the prospect of being left in the dark when it comes to assessing the scale of Mo Salah’s thigh injury.
The Egyptian maestro hasn’t quite hit the dizzy heights of his 2017/18 campaign, leading to the inevitable decline in ownership since the start of the season. However, even though his underlying stats remain strong, a combination of poor finishing and the injury Salah has picked while away on international duty is likely to see many more clamouring to get rid of him ahead of the upcoming deadline.
Of course, we will have to wait to find out if he does line up for the Reds at Huddersfield but for those that are not prepared to take that chance, the temptation to unleash the wildcard or make wholesale transfers may prove too strong.
So, who are the best alternatives?
Well, we’ve tweaked our goals contribution ratings a bit and are now using xG and xA (expected goals and expected assists) as barometers weighted over the current season and the previous one.
Raheem Sterling’s performance against Spain should ensure that he is the most popular replacement, while the majority of the usual suspects feature heavily as potential captaincy options as well.
However, sometimes you need to think outside the box if you are to make genuine strides so here are 5 players that you might want to consider over the upcoming rounds.
A win for Spurs at the London Stadium on Saturday would ensure that they are within 2 points of top spot with almost a quarter of the season gone, having played 2/3rds of their fixtures away from home.
Injuries to Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have meant that most of the fantasy interest in Tottenham assets has inevitably focused on Harry Kane and Kieran Trippier.
Kane finally seems to have shaken off his World Cup hangover, while Trippier continues to produce attacking returns, however, with Serge Aurier now fit again, competition for that right back spot promises to resurface.
Erik Lamela, who scored 15 Serie A goals in his final season with Roma before signing for Spurs, has been plagued by injuries.
Despite getting a full pre-season under his belt, Mauricio Pochettino has still been reluctant to use him but that may all be about to change, with the Spurs’ faithful seemingly clamouring for him to be given a start, thanks to some impressive displays when he has featured.
If Salah misses out at the weekend then Daniel Sturridge or Xherdan Shaqiri are likely to be the chief beneficiaries. Both players could in fact start, due to the fact that Sadio Mané, another player that could easily have been used as direct FPL replacement for Salah, also added to Liverpool’s international woes by breaking his thumb while away with the Senegal national team.
Shaqiri has the edge over Sturridge in terms of Premier League minutes this season but the latter, who has been known to produce music in his spare time, fashioned a stunning equaliser in the Reds’ 1-1 at Stamford Bridge that could just tip things in his favour.
Alex Iwobi looks like a player reborn under Unai Emery and the Nigerian youngster is finally threatening to hold down a first team spot at the Emirates.
It’s a big ask, with such talented players around him but he seems to be thriving under the extra workload that Emery is demanding from his players and even though the sample is small, his 2018/19 underlying stats look very encouraging.
Junior Stanislas has always threatened to be a great Fantasy Premier League prospect but injuries always seem to hold him back. He’s endured a catalogue of injuries as highlighted here by Physioroom. He’s slowly been working his way back to full fitness and may get a chance to replace Ryan Fraser, one of the breakout stars of the season, this weekend.
Fraser withdrew from the Scotland squad and it remains to be seen if it was just precautionary but if a hamstring strain is confirmed, Stanislas might get his chance to shine in the South Coast derby.
Brighton and Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross is another player closing in on a first-team start and it might happen against Newcastle at the weekend.
Gross was arguably the Seagull’s best player last season and their ‘go-to’ man in dead ball situations. The prospect of facing a Newcastle side that has shipped as many goals from set-pieces and penalties as any other side this season will surely prove too good to miss.
Brighton have some great short-term fixtures, making Gross a ‘must’ for any watchlist.
Latching on to differential candidates at the right time can make all the difference during a Fantasy Premier League marathon, so makes sure you give these 5 some food for thought, especially if you’re planning on getting rid of Mo!