Penalty-taking El Ghazi can offer short-term gain for Wildcarding managers |

After a couple of underwhelming picks in Gameweek 13, we’re back on track having tipped Charlie Taylor (£4.5m) and Christian Pulisic (£8.2m) in last week’s column.

This time, we’ve selected three differentials from Aston Villa, Southampton and Liverpool who we like the look of for Gameweek 15.

As always, to qualify the players must have an ownership of 5% or less at the time of writing.

Anwar El Ghazi

  • FPL ownership: 0.6%
  • Price: £5.7m
  • GW15-19 fixtures: CRY | che | mun | TOT | EVE

Anwar El Ghazi (£5.7m) has been out of favour with Aston Villa manager Dean Smith this season, but has now started back-to-back games and made a real impact.

The 25-year-old has scored three goals in as many matches, including a brace in the 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion last Sunday. It could have been more too, as six good opportunities went begging against Burnley in Gameweek 13. That he got into those positions is positive, but it does highlight his inconsistencies in front of goal which have been a theme throughout his time in Birmingham.

Despite this, I do think he could be an intriguing one-week punt for FPL managers planning a Gameweek 16 Wildcard.

His 16 shots over the last two Gameweeks is more than any other player in FPL. Seven of those have been on target, which is joint-top, while he’s also created five chances. Importantly, he appears to be first-choice penalty-taker too.

Aston Villa have now kept three clean sheets on the bounce, taking seven points from nine. At Villa Park, they haven’t fared quite so well, losing three of their six matches so far, but it’s worth noting their next opponents Crystal Palace haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home this season. The Eagles have also given up most of their chances from their right this season, which El Ghazi should benefit from with the in-form Jack Grealish (£7.8m) feeding him.

At this point, we should note that longer term, this move carries more risk, as it’s likely we’ll see El Ghazi, Bertrand Traoré (£5.9m) and Trézéguet (£5.2m)fighting it out for one spot on the flank once Ross Barkley (£5.9m) returns. However, if you’re after a one-week differential, this could be an explosive one.

Theo Walcott

  • FPL ownership: 1.1%
  • Price: £5.8m
  • GW15-19 fixtures: ful | WHU | LIV | – | lei + lee

Theo Walcott (£5.8m) has impressed since re-signing for Southampton on transfer deadline day, turning in some eye-catching performances.

The Saints academy graduate now has five goal involvements in nine appearances, and has adapted well to playing on both flanks and through the middle in Danny Ings’ (£8.4m) absence. That out-of-position forward role could be something we see more of in the coming matches too, with Ings an injury doubt for the Boxing Day clash with Fulham.

When standing in as a striker earlier in the season, between Gameweeks 8-10 and up until half-time in 11, Walcott ranked joint-seventh amongst all midfielders for shots in the box, which included two big chances. Other noticeable stats include 13 take-ons and 14 penalty area touches. From watching those games, it’s clear his conversation rate needs to improve, but those numbers are encouraging.

Southampton have had a promising start to the season, with just two defeats in their last 12 league matches. It’s also worth pointing out that they’ve performed well against teams near the bottom of the table so far, winning five of their seven games against sides currently ranked 12th or below. That’s a good sign as they take on Fulham in Gameweek 15, which is then followed by back-to-back home matches against West Ham United and Liverpool. They also have a Double Gameweek in January.

Walcott has surprised everyone with his recent performances, and if he continues to stay injury-free, could offer real value in the budget midfielder category.

Roberto Firmino

  • FPL ownership: 4.3%
  • Price: £9.3m
  • GW15-19 fixtures: WBA | new | sou | – | MUN + BUR

Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) was back to his best against Crystal Palace last weekend, and given how much he loves a December goal, could be worth investing in ahead of games against West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United.

The Brazilian has now scored the match winner against Tottenham Hotspur and followed that up with two goals and an assist at Selhurst Park, returning 25 FPL points for his owners, and now heads into Christmas as one of the most in-form forwards in the league.

For a player who contributes so much to Liverpool’s all-round game, it’s seems unfair to criticise him, but purely in FPL terms, we need goals from our forwards, something he hasn’t delivered often enough. In fact, he’s managed just nine throughout the whole of 2020. That’s because even though he’s a striker and wears the no. 9, he plays more like a 10, often dropping between the lines and initiating attacks from deeper areas. 

However, over the last two Gameweeks, his attacking numbers are on the up. 

Amongst team-mates, he ranks joint-first for shots, attempts in the box and big chances, and top for expected goals (xG), while his average touch map against Palace saw him positioned slightly further forward than Sadio Mané (£11.9m).

Those performances suggest Firmino can deliver, and given how often West Brom and Newcastle concede high quality chances from the centre of the pitch, his festive goalscoring run could continue.

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