FPL Captain Metric: Gameweek 34

We explore the best options for the Fantasy Premier League captain for FPL Gameweek 34 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/.

Harry Kane

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

  • 4 appearances
  • 22 penalty area touches
  • 0 big chances created
  • 6 big chances
  • 5 goal
  • 0 assists

Heung-Min Son

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

  • 4 appearances
  • 25 penalty area touches
  • 0 big chances created
  • 2 big chances
  • 2 goals
  • 0 assists

Kelechi Iheanacho

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

  • 4 appearances
  • 24 penalty box touches
  • 2 big chances created
  • 2 big chances
  • 4 goals
  • 1 assist

Captain Metric

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

All 20 teams are back in action this week following Man City’s 1-0 victory over Spurs in the League Cup last Sunday, which means even more captaincy options to pick from this week. Those who captained Salah or Iheanacho in gameweek 33 will have been much happier than those opting for Vardy or Bruno Fernandes; such is the beauty of FPL.

The metric wasn’t published in the article last week due to incomplete fixtures; but a calculation before the gameweek started saw Iheanacho come out as the best option. My personal pick, Mo Salah, was unlucky not to achieve a huge score against Newcastle as Liverpool appeared to abandon the art of finishing after Salah’s early opener.

Congratulations to those who went for Iheanacho; the man in form delivered against arguably the weakest defence despite Leicester trailing at half time.

With some highly owned players back in the mix this week, lets take a look at who will make a viable FPL captain in gameweek 34.

Who are the top performers?

We have summarised the data from the past five gameweeks for selected players ahead of the gameweek 34 in the table below.

Key attacking stats for select captaincy candidates between Gameweeks 29 & 33

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

On current form, Mo Salah stands out with some very impressive underlying numbers in recent weeks. He scored again at the weekend to make it 20 league goals for the season, although he could have had a couple more with better finishing. Compared to his captaincy rivals, he is having significantly more touches in the opposition penalty box per 90 (PBT90) with 10.9, and taking more shots per 90 (5.3).

Also, big chances are coming Salah’s way once again; 1.9 per 90 is higher than the other captaincy options although finishing is letting him down when it comes to converting them into goals. Creatively Salah has more appeal again, providing 1.6 key passes per 90 and 0.6 big chances per 90. Salah is the standout pick for the underlying numbers.

A popular choice this week will be Harry Kane, who returned from injury at the weekend to feature in the League Cup final. Kane, with 21 goals, is the only other player to score 20+ league goals this season and his underlying data suggest there are still plenty more to come. Although he doesn’t have as many PBT90 as Salah (5.5), he is still attracting similar numbers in terms of shots (4.8), big chances (1.5) and has more xG per 90 (1.06). Kane scores goals even when the team isn’t playing well – he’s a player at the top of his game.

While most numbers don’t leap off the page for Heung-Min Son compared to the other options, it is worth noting an improvement in his PBT90 (7.1). In recent weeks Son had been recording very low numbers for penalty box touches, shots and goals, but the date suggests signs of improvement. This shift may be due to filling in for Kane against Southampton, but there’s a good chance he becomes more involved again under a new manager who doesn’t have much to lose. One to watch.

Another player who warrants a mention this week is Kelechi Iheanacho, who is proving extremely valuable to Leicester with a great run of form. Looking at the table above, he certainly isn’t dominating the underlying stats, but he is still scoring goals and creating chances. Having watched him play against Palace in gameweek 33, he was a constant threat both in terms of scoring and providing chances for his team mates. He could be worth consideration again this week for captaincy.

Which fixtures should be targeted?

Be wary when considering a captain this week as four English clubs are still competing in European football. Man City and Chelsea are in the Champions League semi finals, while Man United and Arsenal are in the Europa League semi finals. Games are taking place over the next two midweek slots, which means their Premier League fixtures are sandwiched between these games. As they are all one round away from a final, expect the Premier League fixture to be less of a priority this weekend.

xG90 for each team and their opponent’s xG90 against over the past five gameweeks | Source: Understat.com (xG)

Looking at fixtures, Man City have arguably the easiest one on paper against Crystal Palace. City have dropped their attacking threat a little in recent weeks, most likely a result of heavy rotation, but are still the 4th best team for xG90 (1.84). Conversely, Palace are ranked 1st for xG90 against (2.54), which means they concede more chances than any other side. Despite only playing three times in the past five gameweeks, Palace have given up 14 big chances; no other team has more. The issue with targeting this fixture is knowing who will actually play given City’s commitments to Champions League football over the next two weeks.

Chelsea are the top ranked side for xG90 (2.44) and face Fulham this weekend who look pretty doomed following some poor results of late. Goals haven’t exactly been free flowing for Chelsea, just 7 goals in four matches despite creating 14 big chances. Fulham sit 10th in the league for xG90 conceded (1.56), so certainly aren’t likely to give up too many chances. Like Man City, Chelsea also have their game sandwiched between Champions League semi final games so may look to rotate in this fixture.

Average xG (expected goals) for and against per 90 minutes between Gameweeks 29 & 33

Having lost their League Cup final at the weekend, Spurs only have Premier League matches to worry about now. They are five points behind Chelsea in 4th place, so it isn’t beyond their reach if they win their remaining games. This week they face relegated Sheffield United, who have nothing but pride to play for now. Spurs sit 8th for xG90 (1.57) which suggests they aren’t currently one of the better sides for creating chances. Sheff Utd, despite only conceding once in the past two games, are 4th for xG90 conceded (1.94). With rotation out of the question, this could be the fixture to target this week.

Leicester results versus bottom half teams since gameweek 25 (Source: FFScout & Understat (xG))

Leicester saw a sharp decline in form last season as they fell out of the top four, which they won’t want to repeat this time around. Palace gave them a scare on Monday night by taking a half time lead, but the Foxes fought back to claim a vital victory. This week they play another mid table side in Southampton; the team they recently knocked out of the FA Cup. The Saints are ranked 6th for xG90 (1.85) conceded, while giving up an average of three big chances per match. Leicester have a great recent record against bottom half sides, scoring 15 goals in six matches.

Who wins the Captaincy Metric?

The winner of the captaincy metric for gameweek 34 is Harry Kane, with Mo Salah and Kelechi Iheanacho 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.

It is a comfortable margin of victory for Harry Kane on the metric this week, as both individual form and ease of fixture align nicely for the Spurs forward. Son, while improving, falls very short on the individual side of the metric which makes Kane the clear choice between the two this week.

Mo Salah has the highest individual metric score having produced some really impressive numbers of late, but Liverpool’s fixture against Man United is deemed the toughest of all selected captaincy options this week.

Iheanacho takes third place with a nice blend of individual form and a decent fixture, which could make him an ideal captaincy option this week. The only reservation would be the underlying numbers don’t quite support his current form, but they certainly aren’t low enough to suggest he has been lucky.

My view

As you can see from the poll result at the top of the article, Kane is the overwhelming favourite this week. This comes as little surprise given the leading golden boot contender faces the only relegated side in the division. The other Spurs option, Son, isn’t producing anywhere near the same level as Kane which makes him much more of a punt this week if chasing rank.

In my opinion, Kane is favourite for a number of very good reasons and I will be giving him the armband again this week. I’m actually having a nice little run of successful captaincy picks at the moment; my last five have all returned (Salah, Kane, Salah, Kane, Raphinha) and my rank has halved in that time. I’ve really tried to strip back the decision making process when it comes to captaincy and it seems to be paying off nicely. Sometimes the ‘obvious’ choice is worth backing when you have a number of nice differentials in your squad anyway.

It can be very tempting to back against the favourite captain when chasing rank; we saw this in gameweek 32 when some went for Son over Kane in the double. Fortunately for Son owners Kane didn’t feature in the 2nd game and they came out with the same score, but it seemed like a huge risk going into the gameweek. However, you can still make up ground with your other players even if you choose the most popular captain. More often than not there is a reason why people tend to jump on one or two players each week.

One player I really like for captaincy this week is Iheanacho. He’s passing the eye test with flying colours and he’s doing the hardest job in football with seemingly minimal effort; putting the ball in the net. Leicester have been beating bottom half sides regularly in the 2nd half of the season, and they face Southampton who have little to play for now. His underlying stats are weaker than some of the other options, but I wouldn’t read into that too much.

If you’re after an ‘out there’ differential suggestion this week, Marcos Alonso could be worth a punt as captain. As an Alonso owner his game time has been frustrating, but I knew the risk when I brought him in. Chelsea have two mid week games against Real Madrid sandwiched between their Fulham fixture, which means Alonso should come in for Chilwell if we trust Tuchel’s previous decisions. Could this be the week he rewards patient managers with a haul?

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