FPL Captain Metric: Gameweek 31

We explore the best options for the Fantasy Premier League captain for FPL Gameweek 31 and reveal the results of our captain poll and our new captain metric – who will you choose this FPL Gameweek?

Article written by FPL Rover.

BRAND NEW METRIC EXPLAINED: This article (hit the link) explains the concept and working fully >> https://fplconnect.blog/2018/08/07/the-captain-metric-explained-2/

Results of the Poll

The following underlying statistics are taken from FantasyFootballHub.co.uk. If you want to gain access to these stats yourself, register to become a member here >> https://fantasyfootballhub.co.uk/freetrial/.

Mo Salah

Underlying attacking stats the last 5 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested not included):

  • 5 appearances
  • 32 penalty area touches
  • 2 big chances created
  • 4 big chances
  • 1 goal
  • 0 assists

Kevin De Bruyne

Underlying attacking stats the last 5 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested not included):

  • 5 appearances
  • 22 penalty area touches
  • 3 big chances created
  • 2 big chances
  • 2 goals
  • 1 assist

Ilkay Gundogan

Underlying attacking stats the last 5 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested not included):

  • 4 appearances
  • 10 penalty box touches
  • 0 big chances created
  • 1 big chances
  • 1 goal
  • 1 assist

Captain Metric

The winner of this weeks Captain Metric will be revealed later in the article.

As we approach the ‘business end’ of the season, making the right captaincy choice can prove very effective when trying to climb the FPL ranks and close the gap on mini league rivals.

Gameweek 31 is sandwiched between the quarter finals of both the European knockout competitions, meaning many key players could be at risk of rotation this weekend. Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea have Champions League commitments, while Man United and Arsenal compete in the Europa League.

Who are the top performers?

We have summarised the data from the past five gameweeks for selected players ahead of the gameweek 31 in the table below.

Key attacking stats for select captaincy candidates between Gameweeks 26 & 30

Please note the all data in the article is based on the past five gameweeks unless stated otherwise.

Individually, the standout performer in recent weeks is Harry Kane. The Spurs forward is in great form, scoring six times from six appearances (1st), while having more big chances (8) than any other player. He is shooting more frequently, 4.6 shots per 90, and has a higher xA90 (0.24) than any of his captaincy rivals. With Spurs now out of the Europa League, Kane and Spurs will be fully focussed on their Premier League fixture versus Man United this weekend.

Of the Man City options, Jesus is currently the standout attacking player with four goals in five appearances; only Iheanacho and Kane have more in this period. Also, with 7.1 touches in the box per 90 and 1.2 big chances per 90, Jesus has some very strong underlying data going into this weekend’s fixture against Leeds. Having only played 31 minutes in City’s midweek Champions League fixture, you could argue he is very much in the frame to start this weekend.

De Bruyne is the chief creative option having created 0.6 big chances per 90, although this has resulted in just a single assist. His goal threat is improving; 4.6 penalty box touches per 90 is greater than Kane’s while his xG per 90 is very similar to Salah. However, both De Bruyne and Gundogan have just played the full 90 minutes mid week, and, with a crucial second leg to play next Wednesday, how involved will they be this weekend?

Which fixtures should be targeted?

With a full round of fixtures in play this week, lets take a deeper look at the more appealing contests for captaincy candidates.

Average xG (expected goals) for and against per 90 minutes between Gameweeks 26 & 30

On paper, the juiciest fixture to target this week is Man City vs Leeds. Man City have continued their incredible league form despite also competing for the League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League, thus is the strength of their squad. Looking at the above chart, they are streets ahead of any other side when it comes to xG90, while Leeds sit slightly below average for xG90 conceded.

While it may appear Leeds have tightened up in recent weeks, it’s worth noting that their away matches against the perceived ‘bigger’ clubs have resulted in some heavy defeats:

Leeds results | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

In total, these games amount to 20 goals conceded by Leeds, an average of four per game. Leeds failure to adapt (or stubbornness) has made them especially vulnerable against teams with better playing resources. As City clearly fall within that category, expect a few goals at the Etihad on Saturday. However, given City’s European commitments, rotation is more than likely!

It’s always a safe bet to target the ‘whipping boys’ in the League, which seems to have moved away from West Brom and towards Sheffield United very quickly. The lucky recipients of the Sheff Utd fixture this week are Arsenal, who will be keen to bounce back after a lacklustre display at home to Liverpool last weekend.

Arsenal recent PL form | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)
Sheff Utd recent PL form | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

As you can see from the tables above, aside from two very poor attacking performances against Man City and Liverpool, Arsenal have been more than capable of creating goal scoring opportunities with 13 big chances in their last seven games. Sheff Utd, on the other hand, have given up 28 big chances in their last seven games, conceding 15 goals. There’s no doubt this is a very easy fixture to target.

Who wins the Captaincy Metric?

The winner of the captaincy metric for gameweek 29 is Kane, with Jesus and Lacazette taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.

You can see the results for all candidates in the table below, broken down by their individual and team contributions towards the metric score. For a more detailed understanding of how the metric is calculated, please click here.

Please note: Individual bias (IB), highlights how balanced their score is between team and individual form. A score below 50% suggests the team has contributed the most weight to their score, while a score above 50% shows individual performances that outweigh that of the team.

Once again, Harry Kane tops the metric following a very impressive spell of individual form. His individual bias score of 57.3% suggests that the fixture, and Spurs’ team form, are less of a factor this week. By selecting Kane, you are essentially hoping he continues his hot streak regardless of the opposition.

Jesus is the highest rated among the three selected City options this week, and also stands the most chance of featuring against Leeds following a significant rest in the Champions League on Tuesday. Gundogan has seen his PL minutes managed in recent weeks which is why his score is so low, although he is still a great option *if* selected.

Lacazette, De Bruyne and Salah all have very similar individual scores this week, although Lacazette arguably has the easiest fixture and is therefore predicted to score higher than the other two.

Bruno Fernandes is clearly a wonderful player and a great FPL asset, but the underlying data for both form and fixture suggest there are better alternatives this week.

My view

In my last metric article, prior to gameweek 29, I eluded to the fact that there had been much fewer goals scored than expected across the league in March; a possible result of the unprecedented volume of fixtures after the Christmas period. This made me wonder whether the international break would act as a ‘reset’ opportunity for teams to start scoring again.

Goals and xG (expected goals) per gameweek in the Premier League (Understat.com)

Looking at the table above, goals have definitely started to flow again, while exceeding xG for two straight gameweeks. 38 goals were scored in gameweek 30, more than any week since gameweek four. Bear in mind there have been multiple double gameweeks in that time!

This leads nicely into my thoughts on captaincy this week, as selecting a player to provide attacking returns becomes a little easier when goals are flowing more freely. The biggest minefield this week will be rotation, particularly for Man City who have the squad to deal with multiple competitions. No doubt their game against Dortmund on Wednesday will be their priority.

As someone who captained Kane last week, the temptation is very strong to do so again this week. He is one of the top forwards in world football right now, in great form and no longer has European football to worry about. The one major doubt comes in the form of Man United’s record this season against the ‘top’ clubs.

Selected Man United results | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

Since their early 6-1 defeat at home to Spurs, Man United have only conceded one goal in the following seven games against the other ‘big six’ clubs. Five of these fixtures have finished scoreless, while they haven’t conceded more xG than 1.28 in a single match. A draw against Spurs this weekend would certainly favour Man United, so I would expect a very similar approach from Ole as we have seen throughout the season.

If I owned either Lacazette or Aubameyang this week, I would be strongly considering them for captaincy against Sheffield United. It’s the dream fixture from an FPL perspective, although do wait until the Europa league games have been played before committing to them. Arsenal have been targeting this competition and may feel they can afford to rest some key players against the Premier League basement boys.

The same argument goes for Man City players. Jesus and Sterling are arguably the safest picks for the Leeds game as De Bruyne, Mahrez and Gundogan all played 90 minutes midweek. The fixture is that great it may be worth the risk if you’re willing to accept reduced or no minutes are a possibility.

This leads on to the other option I am considering this week, Mo Salah, who seems to be finding some form again. Villa are unlikely to pose the same threat as they did in the reverse fixture, although Liverpool still have plenty of work to do in changing their fortunes at Anfield. The return of Diogo Jota is certainly welcomed and should only be good news for Salah from an attacking perspective.

Of the differential options, Iheanacho, Marcos Alonso, Lingard and Neto all stick out for me. All of these players are either in great form (Iheanacho/Lingard), or have an appealing fixture (Alonso/Neto). Chris Wood is also tempting with that very favourable Newcastle fixture!

Some other great articles by our writers this week

  1. GW31 Wildcard Team Reveal – Top 1k Overall Rank
  2. Which defenders should you consider on your GW31 wildcard?
  3. Which teams have the best fixtures from GW31 to GW38?
  4. Who are the new bandwagons, and should we jump on them?
  5. Predicting the best players for GW31 – 304th in the world overall rank

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