Top 4 Captain Picks and Tips - FPL Gameweek 23
Posted by JackWoodfield
10:39pm Jan 16 2019
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is the obvious, standout captaincy pick against Crystal Palace in Gameweek 23
As Theresa May received a vote of no confidence this week, several premium Fantasy Premier League stars were too on the end of similar motions, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the most high-profile price-drop following his blank in Gameweek 22.
Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso have each been cast aside by at least 130,000 of us ahead of Chelsea’s Gameweek 23 trip to Arsenal – however, Man United and Liverpool assets continue to soar in value.
Mohamed Salah’s 14th goal of the season against Brighton has further propelled his ownership, while Marcus Rashford’s winning goal vs. Spurs has made him the most transferred asset in (500,000+) so far ahead of Gameweek 23.
Harry Kane will be out for until March with ankle ligament duty, while Son Heung-min’s Asian Cup excursion means Spurs are far less exciting as captaincy assets for the next month.
Instead, it’s the North that dominates this week – predominantly in Manchester, but we of course go to Anfield for our no.1 captaincy pick and he needs to introduction…
Mohamed Salah vs. Crystal Palace (H)
Pros for captaining:
> League’s joint-top goalscorer (14)
> Highest FPL scorer (162)
> 5 double-figure returns in last 7 weeks
> Highest xG, second highest xA
> No goals from open play in last 4
> Palace’s pesky away form
It’s straightforward for any so-called FPL pundit worth their salt to make the case for captaining Salah in GW23.
The Premier League’s joint-top goalscorer (14) has registered five double-figure point hauls in the last seven weeks, and with Liverpool still unbeaten at Anfield, a home win is very likely.
Interestingly, much has been made of Liverpool’s penalty-earning exploits in recent weeks, and this begs an investigation.
They’ve won four spot-kicks since Christmas Day, with Salah scoring three – his last three league goals, and that’s a stat that may, just may sway some from taking the armband off Mo this week.
But that would be silly. Salah may not have scored from open play since GW18, but he is a consistent threat and has returned three assists in his last five.
As a non-owner, let me tell you – watching the Match of the Day highlights of Liverpool vs. Brighton in GW22 was both exhilarating and terrifying.
Not only should Salah have scored from that second-half James Milner set up, but he also teed up Sadio Mane who spurned an excellent second-half chance. On another day, Salah could have scooped a 20-pointer.
Salah remains top of the xG list (14.12) and is narrowly second for xA (8.03) behind Ryan Fraser. Those metrics are almost bang-on for his 14 goals and eight assists for the season. And those are the metrics I’m interested in this week.
Crystal Palace have shown nuisance tendencies in big games already this season. After holding Man United to a goalless draw they then of course broke the title race with victory at the Etihad.
The Eagles have won their last two away games, and Liverpool shouldn’t be expected to win this at a canter. But a Salah-inspired Reds victory remains the prediction.
Leroy Sane vs. Huddersfield (A)
Pros for captaining:
> Hitting form following Christmas lull
> Arguably safe starter until Mendy’s return
> City won reverse fixture 6-1
> Hudds worst home record (just 1 win)
> Possible new manager bounce?
> Huddersfield only conceded 16 at home
There’s a cognitive dissonance to touting captaincy a Man City player in GW23.
On paper, irrespective of a new Huddersfield manager arriving this week to replace David Wagner, the stats point comfortably to a City win, but who on earth will start?
As shown with Gabriel Jesus’s shock start against Wolves and Kevin de Bruyne’s benching, the healthy competition at City makes for unhealthy FPL outcomes.
However, it stands to reason that Leroy Sane is the most likely starter in the front three, even with Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy (soon) breathing down his neck.
Sane’s recent form hasn’t exactly been red-hot – he’s blanked in three of his last six league starts – but the German followed his match-winner vs. Liverpool in GW21 with an assist against Wolves, and he’s now started nine of City’s last 10 league games.
Sane also possesses the fifth-highest xA (6.04), and his eight chances created is bettered only by six players. Jesus may be City’s in-form player, but if you read this then you likely do not own Jesus, whereas you’re more likely to own either Sterling or Sane, and Sane pips his team-mates to the #2 slot based on his upturn in performances since Christmas.
Also, Huddersfield have the worst home record in the division (just 1 win) and, of course, they lost the reverse fixture 6-1 in GW2. They have though conceded just 16 home goals all season – that’s the same amount as Everton.
With City’s blank in GW27 nearing, and two problematic matches coming up in GWs 25-26 vs. Arsenal (H) and Chelsea (H), captaining a City player becomes decidedly riskier from two weeks’ time, so there’s an argument to be made for making it count now in what is, on paper, an excellent fixture.
Marcus Rashford vs. Brighton (H)
Pros for captaining:
> 4 goals, 2 assists in 5 PL games under Solskjaer
> United 15 goals in last 5 games
> United third-highest behind City, Liverpool (39.67)
> Differential pick for sure, but zero cons
Marcus Rashford was among just four goalscoring FPL strikers in GW22; the baby-faced assassin is thriving under his managerial baby-faced assassin, with four goals and two assists since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival.
United’s rearguard was arguably more impressive in their 1-0 win vs. Spurs, but United still had 13 shots (8 on target) at Wembley, and their 15 goals in five, an average of three per game, shouldn’t be ignored – United’s forward assets are undeniable captaincy consideration this week.
Not only are the Red Devils on a six-game winning streak in all competitions under the Norwegian, but their xG has spiked to 39.67 – the third highest in the PL behind Man City and Liverpool.
And Brighton may as well be hand-picked opponents. The Seagulls’ away form needs no introduction. It’s bloody awful.
Their two wins from 11 is as many as they managed in the whole of last season, an improvement for sure, but they’re still 16th in the away form table, conceding an average of just fewer than two goals per game.
One thing that will give the Seagulls consolation though is they’ve not been embarrassed on away turf. They only lost narrowly at Liverpool (1-0) and have only conceded three goals or more just once this season.
United, however, look capable of ripping apart the mid-table teams, as they’ve done since GW18, and while Rashford may be an outsiders’ captaincy pick, it could feel a long 90 minutes if you own him and don’t entrust him with the armband.
Paul Pogba vs. Brighton (H)
Pros for captaining:
> 4 goals, 5 assists in last 5
> 33 points in last 2 home games
> Dared to have a baby, missed training. Oh wait, Jose left. It’s fine.
United’s creator-in-chief was at it again in GW22, with a sumptuous ball for Rashford’s winning goal at Wembley making it four goals and five assists for Pogba under Solskjaer.
In fact, all four of those goals have come at Old Trafford; Pogba’s home comforts should be noted ahead of Brighton’s visit, who as mentioned above, don’t travel well.
The Frenchman didn’t train with United on Wednesday, but it is thought this is due to the birth of his child, and unlike with Jose Mourinho’s apparent distaste for footballers having the gall to conceive offspring, it is unlikely that this should impact Pogba’s starting position on Saturday.
Only four midfielders have been involved in more goals than Pogba this season (15), and his recent form, like Rashford, make him a perfectly valid captaincy pick with an excellent fixture (on paper) approaching.
Last week’s captain points: 10
Average captain score: 13.2
Total captain points: 292
This week’s Captain Obvious: Mo Salah
This is the section where my own personal captaincy picks are tracked and most often laughed at. However, three straight captaincy returns following two Christmas blanks has turned the tide, somewhat.
Salah is back this week following a grovelling apology from yours truly, and by way of an apology has been granted the armband likely for the rest of the season. Over to you, Mo.
BEFORE YOU GO… We’ll be giving away £25.00 in cash to the winner of FPLTips’ SUNDAY ONLY Mini League on Starting 11 this weekend.
Simply download the free app below and create your best 11-man team for SUNDAY’S 2 Premier League games – oh, and you’ll need to pick a captain.
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