5 months ago
With many punters using their wildcard this week, we have a wide array of players we can make captain. Yet, the options are quite limited. Manchester City have the best fixture with a game against Leeds who are notorious for playing an expansive game against top sides and leaving themselves extremely vulnerable to attack. But outside of City, the match-ups are not the most tantalising. Nevertheless, here are my three favourite picks for the armband in Gameweek 31.
Sterling has been hit and quite a lot of miss this season, with the usually explosive player just managing 3 double-digit hauls this season. But Pep roulette has him high on my list having just played 27mins since the international break. While De Bruyne has played 177mins and Marhrez playing 168mins. Foden and Gundogan are likely starters too playing 92mins and 90mins respectively, which makes them decent candidates too. But Sterling is the most nailed to start so he is my guy.
Why is this so important? Well, Leeds can’t abandon their attacking style and resultantly leave themselves wide open which serves them up on a plate to stronger teams in the league. They have conceded 6 against Manchester Utd, 4 against Liverpool, Leicester & Arsenal and 3 against Spurs and Chelsea. Ironically, they just conceded 1 against Manchester City at the start of the season. Hopefully, that was just an exception!
Getting a window of starts to look at stats for City attackers is difficult as they are rotated heavily, Between Gameweeks 22 and 27 Sterling started 8 games, getting 3 goals and 1 assist. So I will use this window for my analysis. In that time Sterling had 15 shots, just over 2 shots a game. Decent numbers but someway short of Raphinha who had the most in the midfielder category with 21.
But it gets interesting when we look at shots in the box where his 13 is only better by 1 player, again Raphinha who just had one more shot in the box. But the most dramatic stat is that Sterling had 8 big chances in this time span! The best amongst all midfielders. Salah managed 7, Gundogan 6 and then there is a big drop off with the next best being 4. So Sterling is clearly getting in the right positions for big chances, it’s just whether he brings his shooting boots! He also created a modest 11 chances, 2 of which were big chances during this spell. Resultantly, this put him 2bnd among midfielders with an xGI of 4.7.
Oh, Leeds are 3rd worst in the league for big chances conceded this season with 69 with only West Brom and Sheffield Utd faring worse. The stars could be aligning for Sterling this Gameweek…
Salah and Liverpool looked rejuvenated after the international break, cruising to a 3-0 victory over Arsenal where they created a chance every 5.9mins. Fortunately from a fantasy perspective, their loss to Real Madrid midweeks has greatly diminished their Champions League aspirations. With their most likely route to the competition this season being via the league. With Leicester, Chelsea, Spurs and Everton dropping points at the weekend, they now just sit 3 points off 4th. So I expect Klopp to field a strong team the weekend and Liverpool to be raring for a win.
Their challengers are Villa, known for their mighty defence this year thanks to Emi Martinez. But with 1 clean sheet in their last 4 matches, we have seen a bit of a drop off. While after Manchester City, Liverpool have the best odds for scoring 3 goals or more with the bookies rating this 39% likely.
Salah went through quite the barren spell before the international break, blanking 5 times on the trot. Liverpool themselves did only score 3 goals during this spell, so it wasn’t the case that Salah was missing. But he got back to scoring ways against Arsenal. Where in an impressive display he racked up 5 shots, 3 of which were in the box and 2 being big chances. He also created 1 big chance, had the most penalty box touches (10) and was tied 1st for final third touches with TAA (35).
It is hard to trust Salah and Liverpool so quickly after their dire performances of late. But I expected them to come out of the international break with a fire in their belly and we have seen evidence of that. With limited options elsewhere, Salah is a top candidate for the captain’s armband following his impressive display.
I am going a bit left field for this one but Iheanacho and West Ham’s form pave the way for a potential haul this Gameweek. Against Wolves, West Ham conceded 15 shots in the box! Only Spurs conceded more in the Gameweek. A Wolves side how have not been known for their attacking threat since Jimenez’s head injury earlier this year. With Declan Rice injured and soon to be retired Noble having to fill in, we could see Leicester being afforded many opportunities this weekend.
For those who want to play it safe, Vardy is guaranteed 90mins and has the benefit of penalties. But of late he has been playing more of a creator role with Iheanacho being on the end of these. In the last 6 matches, only Kane (6) has scored more than his 5 goals with again Kane being the only player to receive more big chances than Iheanacho’s 7. While Iheanacho is joint first for chances created (9) among strikers, 2 of these being big chances.
Resultantly, he is 3rd among strikers for XGI in the last 6 with 4.03. He may have been subbed on 71mins against City, but this was on the back of playing two African Cup of Nations qualifying games with Nigeria. A start looks guaranteed based on his form and I would be expecting him to get more minutes after a week rest. He is a tempting pick…
Outside of these three, there are numerous strong candidates. I liked Lacazette but having played 78mins in the Europa League on Thursday and Arsenal only securing a 1-1 draw, he may be rested for the 2nd leg. Aubameyang may deputise as a striker, but his attitude gives me enough doubts in order to not captain him. Kane is one of the best players in the league this year and is always a solid pick. While Jota is a strong alternative to Salah with any City player being a good pick if you can be sure that they would start!
As always, best of luck to everyone, and if you want to reach out to me with any questions DM me on Twitter or leave a comment below.
Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions