Captain Picks and Tips - Gameweek 18

9:59am Dec 23 2016

Players from Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City occupy our top captaincy slots for Gameweek 18, but who will you entrust with the armband?

Good day and Merry Christmas to all the FPL community and welcome to Gameweek 19’s captaincy article, where we will find 4 players for the Boxing Day fixtures for you to consider awarding that precious armband.

Boxing Day – my favourite footballing day of the year. Sat on the sofa all day nursing the Christmas hangover in front of Gillette Soccer Special – the TV to ourselves while spouses and partners brave the sales. Does it get any better?

Gameweek 18 was another poor week for our captaincy pick, with the 4 players; Kane, Eriksen, Payet and Llorente accumulating a miserable total of 9 points between them. Well done to anyone who went against our suggestions and captained the likes of Negredo, Ibrahimovic – and an even bigger congratulations to @dartsvader180 who showed nerves of steel to captain César Azpilicueta and earn a staggering 24 FPL points.

Looking ahead to Gameweek 18 and the Boxing Day programme, we’ll choose 3 regular picks and a gamble, so here’s hoping that we return to winning picks for the festive period.

This weeks article has added interest, as Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa AND Jamie Vardy are all suspended for the upcoming gameweek – 2 of the most common picks are straight out of the window, and this means that there are very few reliable strikers to choose from.

However, there’s one man who is the stand-out-pick for this gameweek and has already been transferred in by over 350,000 FPL bosses ahead of Sunderland’s trip to Old Trafford on Monday afternoon.

Pick 1

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Man United

  • £11.5m
  • 36.5%
  • 12
  • Sunderland (H)

The big Swede is in fantastic form at the moment and it’s no coincidence that Manchester United, as a whole, have improved since Ibrahimovic got back in the goal-scoring mix. Zlatan has 7 goals in 7 league outings, including braces in games away at Swansea and West Brom.

With a very winnable fixture this weekend at Old Trafford against Sunderland, you’d have to fancy him to find the back of the net again. After this, United then face Middlesbrough on New Years Eve do it could be a very Merry Christmas for any Zlatan owners.

As a result of the 3 suspensions previously mentioned and Harry Kane failing to score in home games to Burnley and Hul City, Zlatan has been transferred in by over 350,000 FPL for gameweek 18. With Ibrahimovic in such a rich vein of form at present, it’s no surprise to see these crazy statistics.

Ibrahimovic has 95 FPL points to date and I fancy him to make that tally grow to over 100 this weekend. You will have to part with £11.5m of your FPL funds to acquire his services, but I think he’s a worthy investment given United’s generous run of fixtures over the festive period.

Having said all the above, in a recent interview with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, he said that despite Ibrahimovic’s ‘phenomenal’ contribution to United, he needs to find a way to give the Swede a rest.

Mourinho did imply that the week between United’s last fixture and Boxing Day would provide just that for Zlatan, so surely Mourinho will not troll the 350,000+ of us who’ve drafted him into our FPL teams and rest him on Boxing Day?

This weekend’s fixture has added spice, given that David Moyes returns to Old Trafford as the opposition manager for the first time since he was sacked by the Red Devils. Sunderland have lost by an aggregate score of 9-2 against the current top 4 and with Zlatan and United playing so well, I think it’s safe to say that this will be a miserable return for Moyes.

Pick 2

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

  • £10.4m
  • 35.3%
  • 3
  • Bournemouth (H)

Our next potential captaincy candidate is Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, who the Blues will be extra reliant on given the suspensions to key-players, Diego Costa and N’Golo Kanté. However, before captaining the Belgian, I would pay close attention to Antonio Conte’s news conference and the excellent and invaluable @BenDinnery Twitter feed for any updates on Hazard’s rumoured knee injury.

Chelsea have won an unbelievable ELEVEN Premier League matches in a row, keeping 9 clean sheets in the process since Conte changed them to his favoured 3-4-3 formation. This kind of form has caught everyone by surprise, and well done to everyone at Chelsea for this fantastic record.

With home games against Bournemouth and Stoke over the festive period, there’s a very good chance that they could make it to 13 wins in a row, however, as well all know, anything can happen in football.

It would be a surprise to see their winning run end this weekend against Bournemouth, although the visitors task has been eased by the bans to Costa and Kanté. With players such as Hazard and Alonso playing so well, the loss of those two players shouldn’t cause too much of a problem to Chelsea. Having said that, they have won their last three matches 1-0, so maybe teams are learning how to cope with their system and a shock defeat is on the cards?

Hazard has looked like the player he was in the 2014/15 season and has been very much back amongst the goals this season, after a miserable campaign last year. He has 8 goals to his name, but perhaps surprisingly he has only contributed 2 assists. Be that as it may, he still has 103 FPL points so far this season and has a very pleasing 15 bonus points.

The Belgian midfielder is valued at £10.4m, and is in 35.3% of teams at the time of publishing this piece. Shockingly over 38,000 managers have ditched him for Gameweek 18 – most likely to have been put off by his knee injury and that he was listed as ‘doubtful’ on the FPL site.

With the exception of their stunning 4-3 victory over Liverpool, Bournemouth have struggled against the bigger teams, comfortably losing to Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal so far this season and don’t have the best of records away from the Vitality Stadium, picking up just 5 points on the road.

Given that Chelsea have won 7 out of 8 games at Stamford Bridge this season, you’d have to say a comfortable home win is on the cards for Conte’s men.

I very much expect this to be the case and have a good feeling about Hazard this weekend. Fingers crossed that he shrugs off the rumoured injury and puts in a memorable performance on Monday to bring FPL bosses some extra joy over the festive period.

Pick 3

Kevin De Bruyne – Man City

  • £10.7m
  • 9.5%
  • 7
  • Hull City (A)

Our last regular pick is Eden Hazard’s fellow Belgian international team-mate, Kevin de Bruyne, who like his compatriot and Ibrahimovic, is in fantastic form at the moment. De Bruyne sits well clear at the top of the Premier League assist charts with a very tidy 9 assists so far this season.

De Bruyne’s unbelievable cross-pitch pass on Sunday to Raheem Sterling to set up the winner against Arsenal was an absolute delight to watch and I could (did) watch it over and over again. This is what he’s capable of and when in this form, he’s one of the best play-makers in the world in my opinion.

With Aguero still suspended, de Bruyne was deployed as Manchester City’s striker in Sunday’s victory over Arsenal, so I wouldn’t be surprise to see Pep Guardiola do the same against Hull City on Boxing Day. Wherever de Bruyne is played he is a threat to the opposition and looks set to grab decent FPL returns for those bosses who invest in him.

Like our 2 previous picks, de Bruyne is an expensive pick, now priced at £10.7m. You are more than getting your money’s worth with de Bruyne though and he’s worth every penny in my opinion, especially as he is such a prolific assister.

With a visit to Hull this weekend, followed by a tricky trip for a mouth-watering clash with Liverpool on New Years Eve, de Bruyne has the potential to have a high scoring festive period.

Hull City have been victorious in just 1 of their last 14 Premier League games and whilst sat at the bottom of the table at Christmas, you’d have to say a return to the Championship after a one season stay in the Premier League is very much on the cards, unfortunately.

One more thing to point out about de Bruyne is that he has 17 bonus points to his name this season, which puts him in joint third in the FPL standings. These come in extremely handy with your captain, so I think you will see some very nice returns if you decide to captain Kevin de Bruyne for Gameweek 18.

The Gamble

Islam Slimani – Leicester City

  • £8.3m
  • 1.0%
  • 1
  • Everton (H)

Finally, our gamble this week is Leicester City’s Algerian striker, Islam Slimani, who should start in the absence of the suspended Jamie Vardy in the games over the festive period. Leicester have 2 home games over Christmas against Everton and West Ham and I think they have a big chance to win them both, despite the absence of the 8th best player in the world according to the recent Ballon d’or awards…

For a player in his first season in Premier League football, Slimani has accustomed fairly well. He has 4 goals and 3 assists to his name so far and it’s worth noting that these goals and assists have taken place at the King Power Stadium, so he clearly enjoys playing at his new home.

Now you may be thinking that Slimani’s price tag of £8.3m is a large gamble, and I would agree. However, given that Vardy, Aguero and Costa are all banned, Slimani could be the short-term fix that you’re looking for, and going against the grain and picking a player who has an ownership of just 1% as your captain, could be a clever differential for the next few weeks.

Slimani has 47 FPL points to his name so far, which isn’t too bad, but then again you would perhaps expect more from a player with Slimani’s price tag. Having said that, players including Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney and Olivier Giroud are more expensive than Slimani and they haven’t earned as many FPL points as the Algerian so, fortune could favour the brave with this one.

To finish off this week’s captaincy article, I would like to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas and hope that your arrows become a festive shade of green.

If you haven’t already read on Twitter, we have teamed up with our good friends at Footie Survivor once again to bring you a FREE TO PLAY weekly survival game, with a copy of FIFA 17 for PS4 or Xbox going to the winner.

It’s completely free to play – simply click the Football Survivor banner below and register a username, email address and then pick which Premier League team YOU think will win each week, starting 26th December for Gameweek 18.

It’s quick and easy to play and great fun so please spare yourself 30 seconds to register, pick a club and help us get over 1000 users in our league by Boxing Day.

Thank you for reading ‘Fantasy Premier League Tips Captain Tips and Picks – Gameweek 18’ which was written by @holtdaniel123

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