The following Fantasy Premier League advice is tailored toward players of Togga's Perfect XI. It's a weekly game in which every Premier League player is eligible to be selected into a 4-4-2 formation. There is no salary cap, no squad restrictions and you pick a fresh XI every week.
The five teams topping the Premier League table after nine weeks are separated by just one point. Of more importance for fantasy managers, none of the five are playing each other this weekend and instead have favorable matchups to boot. Of the five, Arsenal has the best match, traveling to last-place Sunderland. Liverpool (at 11th-place Crystal Palace), Tottenham (vs. 12th-place Leicester) and Manchester City (at 13th-place West Brom) also boast great matchups for their attacking players to exploit. Add to that Manchester United hosting Burnley, and the hardest decision for Fantasy Premier League managers may be deciding which strikers to leave out.
Fortunately, we're here to help. Selecting the Perfect XI each week isn't an easy task and even the best-laid plans can use a Plan B, so we've provided alternatives for each position. Those designated (d) are differentials–players we expect will be owned by fewer than 5% of FPL managers this weekend.
Artur Boruc (d; at Middlesbrough)
Key Stats: Bournemouth is without a win in four road matches but hasn't lost since Gameweek 5 against Manchester City. Boruc has posted clean sheets in three of his last six league starts, including an impressive showing in the 0-0 draw with Tottenham last weekend. Even more impressive, he's recorded 24 saves in that span. He will not be selected in many FPL sides, but will face a Boro side that has scored more than one goal in just one EPL match this term–and that was in a 2-1 win at Sunderland.
Plan B: Petr Cech (at Sunderland); Heurelho Gomes (d; vs. Hull City); Tom Heaton (at Manchester United)
Sunderland is woeful, Hull City isn't much better and both Cech and Gomes will enjoy significant ownership in FPL this weekend. Readers may be surprised to see Heaton is not projected to be a differential, but the Burnley shot-stopper leads all goalkeepers with 47 saves and United has scored just 13 goals this season–level with Watford. Heaton is a high-upside play in Gameweek 10.
Antonio Valencia (vs. Burnley); Marcos Alonso (at Southampton); Nacho Monreal (at Sunderland); Aleksandar Kolarov (d; at West Bromwich Albion)
Key Stats: A year ago Kolarov was a fantasy darling, scoring three goals and notching four assists in 2,283 minutes played. Without a goal or assist in 661 this season, Kolarov is due for a big game at any time and will likely press the attack this weekend. Similarly, no defender has recorded more fantasy points this season without registering a goal or an assist than United's Valencia (91.75). Facing Burnley at Old Trafford and having already made 10 key passes this season, expect the Ecuador international to be involved in the attack.
Plan B: Adam Smith (d; at Middlesbrough); Daley Blind (vs. Burnley); Jose Holebas (d; vs. Hull City); Alfie Mawson (d; at Stoke City)
Alfie Mawson made his debut last weekend as Bob Bradley's Swansea City drew 0-0 with Watford. Mawson won four aerial duels and made six clearances–stats that are scored in many weekly and DFS formats. The 22-year-old center back may wind up being the perfect replacement for the departed Ashley Williams and he is a clever play.
Mesut Ozil (at Sunderland); Joe Allen (vs. Swansea City); Leroy Sane (d; at West Bromwich Albion); Eden Hazard (at Southampton)
Key Stats: Sometimes the simple stats tell the most important story. The 20-year-old Sane played 89 minutes last weekend, after playing 70 minutes in the draw with Everton Gameweek 8. His assist spared City's blushes against Southampton and may have cemented a more permanent place in Pep Guardiola's XI. The former Schalke winger is already capable of playing full time, recording eight goals with six assists in 2,314 minutes of Bundesliga action last year.
Plan B: Alex Iwobi (d; at Sunderland); James Milner (d; at Crystal Palace); Gylfi Sigurdsson (at Stoke City); Etienne Capoue (vs. Hull City)
Need an under-the-radar matchup to exploit? Watford hosts Hull City this weekend. After a hot start, the Tigers have lost five straight and own the worst differential in the league (-14), allowing 12 goals in four away matches. Start your Hornets, including Capoue.
Soccer Managers: When they were players
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (vs. Burnley); Alexis Sanchez (at Sunderland)
Key Stats: After starting with four goals from seven shots on target in his first four EPL matches, Ibrahimovic has managed nine shots on frame in his last five –all failing to beat the keeper. He is currently scoring on just 25% of his shots on target. Last season for Paris Saint Germain he scored 38 goals from 81 (47%). Expect his luck to change this weekend.
Plan B: Marko Arnautovic (vs. Swansea City); Callum Wilson (at Middlesbrough); Marcus Rashford (vs. Burnley); Roberto Firmino (at Crystal Palace)
The match-ups are particularly strong for forwards this week with Ibrahimovic, Alexis, Rashford and Theo Walcott facing opposition that are likely outmatched. Need a reason to select someone outside that quartet? Liverpool's Firmino has created more chances, 28, than any other forward this season, resulting in three assists. In five of his eight EPL matches he has created four or more chances, including five last week against West Brom.