FPL Captain Picks and Tips - Gameweek 6

3:54pm Sep 20 2018

Premium players from Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool feature in @JWoodfield365’s top captain picks for Gameweek 6

It was nearly (and arguably should have been) a clean sweep for our Gameweek 5 captain picks.

Had Marcos Alonso’s flat pass for Willian been awarded as an assist, the Spaniard would have joined Sergio Aguero (7), Eden Hazard (20, TWENTY), Romelu Lukaku (6) and Alexandre Lacazette (5) in validating their inclusions in this prestigious feature.

The kick-off of the Champions League and Europa League group stages adds a griping variable when choosing GW6 captain options. Chelsea (thankfully minus Hazard) have travelled to Greece, Lukaku and Man United visited Young Boys in Switzerland, while Liverpool hosted the French champions.

Reductions in minutes for some top stars is a distinct possibility. So if you’re considering premium options, remember that their windows for point-scoring could be lower.

Moreover, there isn’t really a Captain Obvious this week. Hazard has a tough London derby, Aguero battles his away form demons and Salah has struggled.

This could be a big week for players who pick a less-fancied captain to claw back points you may have lost not captaining Hazard last week.

Before we scan the GW6 captains list, a mea culpa to Cardiff fans. Last week I heavily inferred Cardiff would have less chance of scoring than Alonso on his own. To be honest I flat out stated it. Sorry about that. We cool, right?

Hazard vs. West Ham (A)

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Pros for captaining:

> 2 goals in last 3 away at West Ham

> Didn’t travel for Europa League

Cons:

> Not much, other than his team-mates may be less fresh

How can a player who scored a hat-trick not be the top pick this week? Ok, so that’s not scientific thinking, but Hazard’s form even prior to Cardiff would have rendered him one of GW6’s top picks.

Plus, mercifully, Hazard didn’t travel for Chelsea’s midweek Europa League with PAOK on Thursday night. He’ll be fresh, even his most of his team-mates won’t be.

However, West Ham’s 3-1 victory over Everton was significant – if that Hammers side turns up in this London derby then Hazard can expect a less simpler time than he enjoyed against the Bluebirds.

Hazard has a fine record against West Ham though, boasting two away goals in his last three at the Hammers. Moreover, the Belgian is the only player to score or assist in the first five GWs, and Mauricio Sarri this week said Hazard should be pushing towards the Golden Boot, claiming he can score 40 goals.

Last week I wrote how Hazard would have been my captain pick had I owned him – that wrong has since been righted – and while it’s extremely unlikely he’ll score another hatty, Hazard’s precision finishing this season – he has just the 10th-highest xG (2.55) but has still scored five – means any chances that come his way are likely to be converted.

Salah vs. Southampton (H)

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Pros for captaining:

> Scored 3, assisted 1 in 2 games vs. Saints last season

> Still among the chances. Is a big haul due?

Cons:

> Two straight attacking blanks

It’s very easy to make the case for captaining Salah this week. It’s also very easy to make the case for not owning him at all.

Salah’s past two games (three games including Tuesday night vs. PSG)  have been rotten, for sure. But he’s in the thick of it, consistently. The Egyptian has had the second-most shots (23) and the second-most on target (9).

Fantasy Football Fix has his xFPL points at 40: he’s under-performing, and my untrained scientist alter ego insists ‘he’s bound to haul soon’.

To that end, Salah scored three goals and one assist against Southampton last season.

Key to Salah’s drop-off has been his spurning of opportunities. It’s a salient reason why the Bonus Points System hates him. He has the third-joint Big Chances missed (5), as defined by Opta, and going back to April 21 he’s only converted one Big Chance; he’s missed eight since.

If Salah’s going to produce a similar explosion that we saw, for example, against Watford last season, it could be in this game.

But if he doesn’t, and dare I say it, even blanks, then with challenging games against Chelsea and Man City approaching, Mo’s appeal, ownership and value will fall markedly.

Lukaku vs. Wolves (H)

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Pros for captaining:

> 4 goals from 4 starts

> Scored 15 of 16 league goals last season against sides outside top 6

Cons:

> Lower points ceiling

With four league goals from four starts, Lukaku is creeping into more and more squads. He’s an similarly-priced alternative to Aguero if you don’t trust the Argentine’s minutes for GW6, and offers a differential-yet-still-premium captain pick.

However – and this is a big however – there are caveats aplenty to captaining Lukaku. This isn’t to dissuade you from doing so, they’re just worth discussing.

Firstly, Lukaku’s goal ceiling is lower than the above-listed players. Since the beginning of last season he’s hit a brace just twice in the league. Yes, he can be backed to score and grab an assist singularly, but the double-figure hauls are all too sporadic.

Secondly, United haven’t played at home since that damning 3-0 loss to Spurs. And that made it two wins and two losses at Old Trafford in the league dating back to last season. Against a vastly improving Wolves side, it’s no guarantee United come away with the points.

Lukaku does, however, have an xG of 3.68, which tells us he is making the most of his opportunities, even in a notoriously ponderous Jose Mourinho side. Only Aleksandar Mitrovic (10) has had more shots on target.

Last season, United at home against a promoted team would have been optimal to captain the big Belgian, and he loves scoring against teams not in the top six – only one of his 16 league goals came against a team that finished sixth or higher (Chelsea).

There may not be too many goals in this one – Wolves have a solid enough defensive platform – but Lukaku’s form is worth continued backing.

Aguero vs. Cardiff (A)

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Pros for captaining:

> Fitness boost: cameo return from ankle knock in Champions League

Cons:

> Dire away run (no goals in 7)

> 4 games (all comps) without a goal

FPL managers (figuratively) held hands and inhaled sharply as Man City’s team sheet vs. Lyon was announced on Wednesday. That joy lasted 60 minutes, until Aguero was introduced in a goalless cameo. He seems to be fit following that ankle injury sustained against Fulham, and it’s likely – if not certain – that he’ll start against Cardiff.

The Bluebirds were compact and solid for 80 minutes at Chelsea, until the Blues ran through the gears and scored twice late on, but Cardiff will be resistant against City, if not successfully.

City have now scored in 46 of their last 48 league games and in Pep Guardiola’s 81 league games in charge of the Citizens they’ve scored 3+ goals 35 times.

However, Aguero has ‘away’ to go to convince of his captaincy credentials on the road. The Argentine hasn’t scored away from the Etihad in the league since December, and three straight league blanks have followed that Huddersfield hat-trick.

Not the obvious pick, but definitely the City pick again.

Firmino vs. Southampton (H)

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Pros for captaining:

> Only played 20 minutes vs. PSG, likely to start

> Saints away xGA 3.41, conceded 2, they’ve been lucky not to concede more

Cons:

> Not the best record vs. Soton

I never seem to time my periodic love affairs right with Roberto Firmino. But his cameo winner against PSG  – where he only played 20 minutes, making a start against Southampton highly likely – married up with his solid start to the season (two goals, two assists) makes him a great candidate for the armband, particularly if you’re in team #NoSalah.

The Saints may only have conceded two on the road, but don’t let that fool you into assuming they’re particularly disciplined. The Saints’ away xGA is 3.41; they’ve essentially been lucky teams haven’t converted their chances against him – cough CHRISTIAN BENTEKE cough.

Firmino is the pick here, but this could too be Sadio Mane. The Senegalese arguably should have been credited with the assist for Firmino’s goal against Spurs, but Firmino’s goalscoring run of three in three (all comps) gives him the nod.

Also, while Firmino has a goal and an assist in just six games (all comps) against Southampton, Mane has yet to produce attacking returns against his former employers in three league games.

Considering Salah’s ownership and the likelihood of being the most selected captain this week, any other option is ballsy, but Firmino (and Mane) offer similar threat. Going ballsy could yet pay off in a big way.

Captain Obvious 

Last week’s captain points: 14

Average captain score: 19.6

Total captain points: 98

This week’s Captain Obvious: Mohamed Salah

Forgive the controversy, but this is subject to change. I’m on a Wildcard, and Salah’s inclusion is not a foregone conclusion yet. If I keep him, he’s captain. If I don’t, it will probably be Mane or Firmino – either way I’ll be backing a Liverpool forward.

I do genuinely believe Salah is the best pick this week though, and not just because of his mass ownership. When the chances come his way against Southampton, and they will, a little more composure could see him fill his boots.

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Thank you for reading ‘Fantasy Premier League Tips – FPL Captain Picks and Tips – Gameweek 6’ which was written and produced by @JWoodfield365