FPL Differential XI: Gameweek 18

We’ve all seen the “template XI” and will, no doubt, have figured out which elite assets we’re going to jump on this season.

Whether you’re on the Salah train or the Haaland bus (or both), you’re going to be needing some handy differentials in your side to ensure you’re always one step ahead of your mini-league rivals and can climb up those world rankings!

In this weekly series, we explore those low ownership options that could be the hidden gems to help you to creep up that table. Here are the options we like the look of for GW18…

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno – Fulham – 1.9% TSB

Fulham look like a really tidy outfit at the moment and face arguably the current worst side in the league this week in Southampton. Bernd Leno looks an excellent shout in between the sticks this weekend following on from last week’s clean sheet and could be useful ahead of next week’s double gameweek that Fulham players will benefit from.

Defenders: Sven Botman – Newcastle United – 3.9% TSB, Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea – 1.6% TSB, Matt Doherty – Tottenham Hotspur – 0.5% TSB

In contrast to Southampton, Newcastle are the league’s form side and also boast of the league’s stingiest defence. They face lowly Leeds at St James Park this week and you could do much worse than get centre back regular Sven Botman into your FPL side.

Another unfortunate Reece James injury should open the door for club captain Cesar Azpilicueta to deputise at right back against Nottingham Forest this week while Matt Doherty finally got the nod over the much maligned Emerson Royal against Brentford last week and should keep him place for the home game against Aston Villa after a progressive display. He could be the next FPL bandwagon if he manages to make that right wing back slot his own.

Midfielders: Raheem Sterling – Chelsea – 4.3% TSB, Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United – 3.3% TSB, Said Benrahma – West Ham United – 0.9% TSB, Solly March – Brighton – 0.6% TSB, Joelinton – Newcastle United – 0.6% TSB

Could a Raheem Sterling revival be on the cards? He started against Bournemouth in Chelsea’s Premier League return and was rewarded with an assist for the first goal in a lively performance. A trip to Forest will give Sterling another chance for attacking returns and could be a handy differential for those looking to catch up in the world rankings, as could Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes who could blossom now compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo has finally left the club.

Said Benrahma has always had the potential to be a very useful fantasy asset since coming into the Premier League and having finally made a starting place his own, he should be carefully considered as an option at only 0.9% owned. The Algerian is a constant goal threat and is on penalties ahead of the visit of his former employers Brentford this week.

You probably wouldn’t have considered our final two midfielders as genuine options ahead of the season but Solly March and Joelinton are both coming off the back of a goal and assist performances and are in excellent form for their respective clubs. March faces league leaders Arsenal this week but you’d expect Joelinton to have plenty of chances to add to his tally against Leeds United this week.

Forwards: Eddie Nketiah – Arsenal – 2.5% TSB, Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa – 2.2% TSB

The injury to Gabriel Jesus has paved the way for back up forward Eddie Nketiah to have a run in the side for league leaders Arsenal and he wasted no time in getting on the scoresheet in his first start against West Ham United. Jesus has played well but struggled to find the goals for The Gunners but Nketiah had no such issues this week and will be going into the trip to Brighton full of confidence. Nketiah could represent an absolute bargain at £6.5m over the next few weeks.

Another manager is at the helm at Aston Villa but Ollie Watkins still continues to lead the line. Villa went down to a 3-1 loss against Liverpool on Boxing Day but there were plenty of positive signs, particularly from Watkins who got himself on the scoresheet and will have easier tests to come.

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