FPL Captain Picks & Tips: BLANK Gameweek 31

11:14am Mar 14 2018

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is the obvious captaincy pick for Gameweek 31, but @JWoodfield365 explores other options

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If Gameweek 31 could be summed up with a weary, one-word exclamation, it would be “Meh”.

The first significant blank gameweek of the season (excluding Gameweek 21 when Spurs and West Ham were absent) is about exciting as trekking to the London Stadium and not getting violated by Mark Noble, with just four fixtures and only one of the top six involved.

But, for attentive FPL managers who still have their finger on the pulse, there are gains to be made, and your captain pick will be pivotal.

The blunt reality though is that you and your friends, colleagues, relatives and proctologist will captain a Liverpool player.

The Reds are at home to Watford, who are without an away win in eight, and it of course makes sense to captain either Mohammed Salah, who is the bookies favourite across most Premier League betting sites to be the first goalscorer – with Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mane looking like the premium alternatives.

The superlative trio have 45 goals and 23 assists between them in the Premier League, and the Reds are unbeaten at home this season.

But, this article would cease here if your captain conundrum begins and ends with Salah, or one of his mates, so for editorial pride and to genuinely strive for differential value, which some will inevitably consider whilst spending the week assaulting voodoo dolls of the Liverpool forward line, there will also be analysis of some under-the-radar captain picks for Gameweek 31.

If you’d like to continue this discussion via Twitter, be sure to send me your questions and concerns via my Twitter handle – @JWoodfield365


The Premium Picks

Mohamed Salah vs. Watford (H)

Given his ubiquitous ownership (61%), Salah is obviously the obvious Gameweek 31 captain pick. Prior to Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford, the Egyptian had scored six in five, throwing in a couple of assists too.

No one saw his devastating season coming, and it shows no sign of abating, especially as Liverpool’s fixtures open up nicely until the season’s end, with just one clash remaining against a top-six team (Chelsea), and Salah continues to vie with Kane for Golden Boot honours.

On his Reds debut back in Gameweek 1, he scored, assisted and bagged 1 bonus point against Watford, amassing 11 points in total.

Embed from Getty Images

Roberto Firmino vs. Watford (H)

Whilst not as prolific as Salah or as selfish as Mane, Firmino has arguably been as important to Liverpool as any of his team-mates this season.

Salah aside, only five players have more FPL points, and Firmino too enjoyed a goal and assist against Watford back in August.

The clear second favourite for captain honours, Firmino remains a gamble given Salah’s antics and ownership, but is in a rich enough vein of form himself to merit the alternative.

Sadio Mané vs Watford (H)

Injury has blighted his second season at Liverpool, but Mane has delivered attacking returns in each of last three and is improving with each game.

His hat-trick at Porto in the Champions League served as the catalyst for his renewed league form, and his ownership increased by 100,000 between GWs 27-30 – yet Mane is still owned by 50% less bosses than Salah.

Mane captainers will be relying on him outscoring his team-mate against Watford in Gameweek 31, and in his current form, you wouldn’t rule that out.

The Differentials

Xherdan Shaqiri vs. Everton (H)

The stocky Swiss shouldering Stoke’s survival mission single-handedly, Xherdan Shaqiri’s excellent third season in the Premier League has seen him return seven goals and six assists – his best campaign for the Potters.

Stoke’s Gameweek 31 visitors, Everton, who possess the second-worst away record with just one win from 14, are so appalling on the road that Shaqiri, whilst an obscure captain pick, is maybe not as much of a gamble as it may seem.

For those FPL bosses looking to make up ground this week and go against the masses, Shaq could be your golden ticket.

Callum Wilson vs. West Brom

If I said to you “Forget Salah, captain Callum Wilson”, you’d have me sectioned – and I would understand – so I’m not saying that.

The Bournemouth striker has blanked in five straight Premier League games and may not even start against West Brom if Jermain Defoe steps up his fitness this week.

However, West Brom are so pathetically easy to score against (conceding 16 in six) that even Wilson could return to goal-scoring form against them. [Apologies Brom fans.]

It’s the most ludicrous captain punt, I know, but the scenes would be incredible if after weeks of trolling, Wilson came good.

Above all, Wilson is a good striker with a great fixture approaching and for some, that may just be enough.

Embed from Getty Images

Steve Mounie vs. Crystal Palace (H)

The problem with Steve Mounie is that he produces explosive scores on a periodic basis, akin to a much less prolific Eden Hazard.

Mounie has three double-point hauls for the season, yet has scored only six goals.

Long spells of blanks tend to haunt Mounie and only those who’ve lost a dare or frankly have given up for the season, will consider captaining the Huddersfield striker.

However, if he produces another one of those outrageous point hauls, it’ll be a bet worth losing and could help shoot you up the ranks on what already looks to be a very low-scoring gameweek.

Cenk Tosun vs. Stoke (A)

An Everton side depleted by injuries aren’t as inviting as they would be if Gylfi Sigurdsson and Theo Walcott were certain to start, but Cenk Tosun’s two goals in consecutive games haven’t gone unnoticed.

Finally starting to repay the £27m Everton dished out in January, the Turkish striker has also collected five bonus points in those two games.

There likely won’t be too many goals at the Britannia, and Tosun is a sure-fire favourite to score the goal that matters.

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