Overlooked Armstrong can benefit from Southampton’s appealing fixture run

Gameweek 27 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) 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 Southampton, Burnley and Newcastle United, who we think have the potential to make an impact.

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

STUART ARMSTRONG

  • FPL ownership: 0.2%
  • Price: £5.8m
  • GW27-31 fixtures: NOR | avl + NEW | WAT | bur | lee

Despite an injury-hit spell during the first half of the season, Stuart Armstrong (£5.8m) has been one of Southampton’s top performers of late, with two goals in his last three appearances in all competitions.

The Scottish international was excellent against Everton in Gameweek 26, causing all sorts of problems for the Toffees’ defense with his direct running. He ended the match with a goal and two bonus points, which followed his opener in the FA Cup fourth round tie against Coventry City earlier this month.

Deployed in an advanced midfield role behind Che Adams (£6.9m) Armando Broja (£5.4m) last time out, Armstrong formation was encouraged to drift infield in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2, with his display earning praise from his manager after the match.

“A massive impact. He’s a very intelligent player on the ball, fantastic with his runs with the ball. The number 10 is a fantastic position for him. I love the way he takes the game in his hands sometimes and creates chances, scores. A very intelligent and fantastic player when he is fit.

I must say that he learned to balance it right. Some moments in the past, I think he was a little bit too quick in going behind. And now he has a good feeling when it’s necessary to speed up or when it’s necessary to step on the ball and to play it back. And this is a very good combination. He’s always involved in all the actions. I think this is showing you how important he is for our game.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl discussing Stuart Armstrong after Southampton’s 2-0 win over Everton in Gameweek 26

Southampton have lost just once in their last nine games and have recently claimed eight points from a possible 12 in a tough run against Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Everton. Now, they take on the Premier League’s bottom club Norwich City on Friday, followed by an appealing run of matches which includes a double-header in Gameweek 28 against Aston Villa and Newcastle United.

At his best, Armstrong is a real asset to Southampton, and could be a nice differential pick to capitalise on their appealing run.

DWIGHT MCNEIL

  • FPL ownership: 0.3%
  • Price: £5.7m
  • GW27-31 fixtures: cry + LEI | CHE | bre | SOU | MCI

After being dropped for the defeat to Liverpool in Gameweek 25, Dwight McNeil (£5.7m) has raised his game upon his return to Burnley’s starting XI.

It’s fair to say the 22-year-old has struggled to live up to expectations in 2021/22, with only one assisting all season.

However, his -2.59 expected goal involvement (xGI) delta suggests he has been a little unfortunate not to return more.

Despite this season’s dip in form, McNeil has once again been the Clarets’ main creative outlet, as he ranks top at Turf Moor for chances created, crosses, successful take-ons and passes received in the final-third, whilst his 30 goal attempts is another team-leading total.

Key to his appeal is this week’s opponents Crystal Palace and Leicester City, given that both sides have shipped goals aplenty from set plays this season, which could be good news for McNeil, who has a share of Burnley’s set-pieces and regularly puts the ball into the box from wide areas. In fact, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m), James Ward-Prowse (£6.5m) Andrew Robertson (£7.2m) have delivered more crosses than him all season.

McNeil has now produced excellent back-to-back displays against Brighton and Hove Albion and Spurs, and if he can carry on that form, could be a shrewd differential pick for those on the lookout for a new budget.

CHRIS WOOD

  • FPL ownership: 1.6%
  • Price: £6.7m
  • GW27-31 fixtures: bre | BHA + sou | che + eve | CRY | tot

With just three Premier League goals all season, Chris Wood (£6.7m) may have underwhelmed, but is now about to embark on a kinder run of fixtures which includes back-to-back Double Gameweeks.

The New Zealand international has been a model of consistency in recent years, scoring at least 10 goals in each of his four top-flight campaigns at Burnley.

Now, despite failing to score in five appearances since joining Newcastle United, he has led the line well and played a vital role in the Magpies’ upturn in form, which has seen them secure important wins over Leeds United, Everton and Aston Villa in their last four matches.

During that time, he leads the way amongst team-mates for shots in the box, with eight, which has included four headed attempts. That’s important, too, given that this weekend’s opponents Brentford rank bottom across the season for headed attempts conceded, with 71. Notably, Thomas Frank’s side have also conceded 20 goals in their last eight Premier League matches, which suggests the New Zealand international could get some joy in Gameweek 27.

Looking further ahead, successive Double Gameweeks follow, which includes games against Brighton and Hove Albion (h), Southampton (a), Chelsea (a) and Everton (a).

Newcastle appear to have moved up a gear in recent weeks, with more confidence on the ball, and given that Wood is the focal point of their attack, could be an effective differential pick for our frontlines.


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