FPL Captain Choices: Gameweek 18

We explore the best options for the Fantasy Premier League captain for Gameweek 18 and reveal the results of our captain poll, who will you choose this gameweek?

And he’s [Kane] gone again!

Not too long after I exclaimed he was back, he’s vanished again, back into the depths of unpredictability.

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Kane continued to keep us guessing, with yet another home blank against a supposed ‘weaker’ team in Brighton where Spurs won 2-0, but it was Son again and a freak cross from Aurier who scored the goals.

Salah blanked, Firmino blanked, Hazard blanked, whilst Lukaku and Agüero’s one goal contribution was probably well received given the notable blanks by Salah and Kane.

Elsewhere, those that punted on KDB as captain, were well rewarded with 10pts via a goal from a free kick, a clean sheet and 2 bonus.

A tough week is over, with many of us, including myself, experiencing freak defeats in the cup, but the good news is that a new gameweek is just around the corner and that means it’s already time to evaluate the best options for GW18, so lets crack on.

Results of the poll

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Eden Hazard – 50% of the votes

Hazard tops the poll this week despite his blank on Tuesday night.

Last gameweek typified owning Hazard last season, with Chelsea playing well, scoring 3 goals, Hazard playing up front, Hazard playing very well, yet not getting any FPL points.

That’s two blanks since I’ve brought the Belgian in and it’s already annoying me, but after seeing Southampton’s meltdown at the hands of their ex boss Claude Puel and his new team Leicester in a 4-1 loss at home, I think Hazard has to be the stand-out choice this gameweek for the armband.

In truth, Chelsea have been a little underwhelming at Stamford Bridge this season however;

  • 13 goals scored in their 8 games – that’s only 1 more than Southampton have scored at home.
  • 20 big chances created – 6 teams have created more, including Crystal Palace (24).
  • 76 shots inside the box – that’s beaten by 7 teams including both Palace (95) and Southampton (83).

This is compared to them ranking 2nd for shots inside the box and ranking 3rd best for amount of goals scored away from home.

Hazard’s FPL performance also isn’t making great reading if we look at the underlying stats for the last 2 weeks;

  • 13 penalty area touches
  • 4 shots, 3 inside the box
  • 0 big chances
  • 0 goals
  • 0 assists
  • 0.22 xG
  • 0.31 xA

However, he is passing the eye test and this is just as important as underlying stats.

The team played very well against Huddersfield and Hazard was very much a part of that, linking all the play up with Pedro and Willian and generally looking dangerous.

He was brought off in the 69th minute so he seems nailed for a start this week and as I said before, after seeing the 4-1 loss to Leicester, I think Southampton will struggle to cope with Hazard et al, despite the underlying stats not looking too peachy.

Mohamed Salah – 27% of the votes

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Ended, was a run of incredible consecutive attacking returns by Mohamed Salah, at the hands of Pardew and his dogged WBA team in a 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Before last night’s blank for the first time in 8 gameweeks, Salah had scored 78pts in those 8 gameweeks.

Over the last 6 gameweeks, only 3 players are beating Salah (3.56) for xG (expected goals) and that’s Alexis Sánchez (4.05), Harry Kane (3.69) and Alexandre Lacazette (3.65).

The last 2 GWs still make good reading for Salah, despite Liverpool only scoring 1 goal in that time;

  • 16 penalty area touches
  • 9 goal attempts (6 inside the box)
  • 2 big chances
  • 17.4 minutes per chance ratio
  • 7 chances created (2 of those being big chances)
  • 1 goal
  • 0 assists

This backs up why he’s currently the best player in FPL right now – even when the team are experiencing a bit of lull in their overall performance, Salah still shines through in all the key areas.

Bournemouth are next for Liverpool and in the last 4 instances of this fixture, there has been 16 goals and Liverpool have been conceding and scoring a lot of goals on the road this season, so it’s logical to expect goals in this one.

The only slight worry, is all the rotation Klopp is employing at the moment.

Salah has displayed already this season though, that even when he comes on from the bench, he can still be devastating, just ask Stoke.

I was at the United game myself last night and I must say, I was very impressed with Bournemouth however.

They kept things tight at the back and attacked well – they were unlucky to lose.

I think with it being at home this weekend, they’ll have last years incredible 4-3 turn around fresh in their memory and will be up for this game and will attack Liverpool – it might just suit Liverpool though.

Harry Kane – 15% of the votes

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Once again, Kane blanks in an ‘easy’ home game, but once again, it wasn’t for fault of trying.

Against Brighton, Kane had 10 goal attempts, 5 inside the box and 9 penalty are touches.

The problem was, none of those goal attempts were classified as ‘big’ chances, which you could argue again, that this comes down to his teammates not creating those clear-cut chances for him.

As Liverpool, Real Madrid and Dortmund have found out, Spurs like it when a team attacks them, so the City match could be an open game and might be better for Kane than most think when they first look at the fixture.

City have been unbelievably good this year and keep marching on, but have demonstrated some vulnerabilities over the course of this season in defence and of course, now have that old Mr Complacency to deal with, with them being so far out in front.

So Spurs won’t be intimidated going into this game, especially seeing as they’re record has been much better recently than it has before, with 3 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat coming in their last 5 Premier League encounters – incidentally the last 2 at Etihad ended in a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 Spurs win.

Kane scored a penalty in the 2-1 win and assisted Son’s goal in the 2-2 draw, so he’s not shy of getting involved in this fixture and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him involved again this weekend in what should be a cracking match.

Differential captain options

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  1. Mahrez4 attacking returns in his last 4 games, 3 goals, 1 assist and 4 bonus points. It’s safe to say, the Mahrez of old has returned with a bang and so have Leicester with 4 wins in the last 5 games since Puel took charge of The Foxes. It’s important to note though, that all 3 of the 3 goals Mahrez has scored in the last 4 gameweeks, have come from outside the box, which suggests perhaps that this kind of scoring can’t continue, but we might of said that in Leicester’s title-winning year and it didn’t stop then. Whether it will or won’t long-term is difficult to predict, short-term however, I think it will based on their fixture. They play Palace at home and given his and Leicester’s form and Palace’s still leaky defence, I think this could be a great captain punt with Kane being away at City and some being concerned about Klopp’s rotation policy.
  2. Sánchez – Another great option this week, perhaps the best option if you have it, is Sánchez who’s at home to Rafa’s struggling Magpies, who are now 8 games without a win, with 7 of those 8 being defeats. Home or away, it doesn’t seem to matter at the minute and they’re struggling to keep the goals out, with 18 goals shipped in those last 8 games. As I stated before, Alexis tops the xG over the last 6 gameweeks with a value of 4.05 and is second only to Salah for goal attempts over that time. He’s also top of the xGI (expected goal involvement) value of any player over the last 6 gameweeks, with a value of 5.84. So it’s fair to say that an explosion is imminent and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it happen this week against Newcastle.
  3. Rooney – As I said earlier, with some slight uncertainty about Salah’s starting role and Kane’s tough fixture, it could be a good week for a captaincy differential and Rooney is certainly a man in form. He has 5 goals and 1 assist in the last 4 gameweeks for an Everton side that have really turned a corner recently. Some say big Sam’s tactics might hinder Everton’s attacking output, but with Rooney being on penalties and him and his team being in-form, as well as Swansea just receiving a real good hiding from City, Rooney could be a brilliant punt captain option this week.

Stats provided by fantasyfootballscout.co.uk

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