Bale offering differential potential between now and end of FPL season |

Gameweek 34 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 Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds United and Newcastle United 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.

Gareth Bale

  • FPL ownership: 3.1%
  • Price: £9.1m
  • GW34-38 fixtures: SHU | lee | WOL | AVL | lei

After a benching in José Mourinho’s last four games in charge, Gareth Bale (£9.1m) returned to Tottenham Hotspur’s starting XI against Southampton in Gameweek 32, their first match under interim head coach Ryan Mason.

The Welshman responded by grabbing the equaliser, and in the second half, emerged as Spurs’ main attacking threat and creator in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

In just his seventh Premier League start of the campaign, the 31-year-old was named man of the match, and despite a slightly chaotic performance from Mason’s side, they did improve as the game went on, especially after the hour mark when they became more proactive in their approach. If that theme continues, and they look to dominate the ball and play on the front foot in the coming weeks, it bodes well for owners of their attacking assets.

When given a run of games this season, Bale has thrived. He was in exceptional form as he came off the bench against West Ham United in Gameweek 25, and was then handed starts against Burnley, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Arsenal. During that time, he scored four goals, provided two assists and 40 FPL points, highlighting his ability to hit big hauls.

Although he was benched for last weekend’s EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City, I fancy him to start against Sheffield United on Sunday, in a game when the onus will be on the Lilywhites to take the initiative and attack. In addition to that match, Spurs then take on Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa, before finishing the season with a trip to Leicester City.

Bale is perhaps no longer the player he was at the peak of his powers, but is still a real threat in the final-third, and with a manager who now believes in him, is an intriguing differential for the remainder of the season.

Diego Llorente

  • FPL ownership: 0.2%
  • Price: £4.4m
  • GW34-38 fixtures: bha | TOT | bur | sou | WBA

Diego Llorente (£4.4m) struggled with injuries throughout the first few months of his Leeds United career, but has now played every minute of the last nine games and shown real quality.

His role at the heart of the Whites’ defence has helped tighten them up, with just four goals conceded in their last six matches, despite a testing schedule which has included games against Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.

The Spanish defender’s aggressive style, along with his passing range and ability to bring the ball out from the back makes him an exciting watch, and lends itself to bonus points, too. As pointed out by Neale in his superb Big Numbers article, Llorente has registered 140 baseline bonus points (BBPS) since his return from injury in the second half of Double Gameweek 25, more than any other defender. 

And while Pascal Struijk (£4.0m) is currently the cheapest route into Marcelo Bielsa’s backline, his spot in the starting XI is perhaps a little less secure, with Liam Cooper (£4.3m) due to return from suspension after Gameweek 34, and Robin Koch (£4.3m) pushing for a recall too.

Leeds now face a Brighton and Hove Albion side who have struggled in attack in recent matches, scoring only once in their last four outings. Encouragingly, for those considering investing, their meeting with the Seagulls marks a favourable run too, with games against Burnley, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion to follow.

Llorente is an integral part of an improving Leeds defence, and while Stuart Dallas (£5.3m) remains the headline pick, the former Real Sociedad man is worth a look if funds are tight.

Allan Saint-Maximin

  • FPL ownership: 2.7%
  • Price: £5.1m
  • GW34-38 fixtures: ARS | lei | MCI | SHU | ful

Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m) has shown his value in recent weeks, playing an important role in Newcastle United’s revival.

The Magpies’ are now unbeaten in their last four matches, which has coincided with the return of the Frenchman and a change in formation.

Now deployed in a 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 shape, the new system has shown plenty of attacking intent. In fact, since Gameweek 30, they rank joint-second for goals, first for expected goals (xG) and fourth for shots in the box. Granted, it’s a small sample size from which to draw conclusions from, but it is encouraging.

During that run, Saint-Maximin has provided two assists, scored one himself, and has been one of Newcastle’s best players. 

At Anfield last week, Liverpool couldn’t handle him, as he consistently exploited their high line with passes in behind. And while he didn’t manage to involve himself in any goals, it was a hugely impressive performance, and bodes well for future weeks.

Next up for Steve Bruce’s side is a Gameweek 34 encounter with Arsenal, and with the game sandwiched between the Gunners’ Europa League semi-finals, they won’t get a better chance to win. After that things get trickier, but they do finish the season with games against relegated Sheffield United and Fulham. 

Saint-Maximin has stepped up just at the right time for Newcastle, and at just £5.1m, could be a useful budget asset for the run-in.

Pro Pundits 7

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