FPL Double Gameweek 32 – Captain Picks

Manchester City’s excellent DGW schedule sees two of their assets in line for the armband, while our other three captaincy contenders also have two fixtures in Gameweek 32.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) vs Fulham (a) & Cardiff (H)

The striker has started each of the last eight gameweeks, scoring eight goals and setting up two. By being awarded the assist for the first strike of Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick at home to Watford in GW30, Aguero maintained his record of posting attacking returns in every Etihad start this season.

To further his armband appeal, the Argentine was not on international duty ahead of DGW32. After the two Premier League games, City take on Brighton in an FA Cup semi-final on Saturday week before the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Spurs the following Tuesday.

While Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m) might be expected to gain some minutes over that run, his last league start came in GW22. The Brazilian has started all four of the club’s FA Cup fixtures, while Aguero has been used just twice in that competition – both times from the bench. If Jesus is to earn a start up front ahead of the league’s top scorer, the Brighton clash appears the likeliest game in which that scenario might occur. The 21-year-old played 30 minutes in Brazil’s 1-1 friendly draw with Panama in Portugal last Saturday and could earn further pitch time in tonight’s friendly against the Czech Republic in Prague.

In Saturday’s early kick-off, Pep Guardiola’s side travel to take on the league’s worst defence in Fulham. The Cottagers have conceded seven goals in three games since Claudio Ranieri’s departure, with Scott Parker unable to plug the numerous leaks in the club’s backline. In those fixtures against Chelsea, Leicester and Liverpool, Fulham allowed their opponents 54 shots – 35 of which were attempted inside the box.

Cardiff have shipped ten goals in their last four gameweek outings, which includes a 5-1 drubbing at home to Watford in GW27. The Bluebirds conceded 46 shots – 31 inside the box – over that period. Neil Warnock’s side are not quite as porous as Fulham but are set to struggle on their visit to the Etihad. In eight games against top-six opposition this season, Cardiff have let in 27 goals.

City could hardly ask for two better match-ups as they aim to overtake Liverpool, who have played an extra game, at the top of the table. Aguero has the recent starts, form, fixtures, lack of international duty and fearsome home record all in his favour. The striker also started both of the Citizens’ DGW25 fixtures, giving FPL bosses plenty of captaincy confidence.

Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) vs Fulham (a) & Cardiff (H)

The England winger played 70 minutes for his country at Wembley last Friday, scoring a hat-trick and winning a penalty against the Czech Republic. Sterling then played the full game in Montenegro last night, assisting a Harry Kane (£12.5m) goal before scoring again himself.

Even though the second of those fixtures was an away trip, there are four days before City’s 12:30pm kick-off in London on Saturday. Sterling has outscored Aguero by 43 to 33 in City’s last four gameweeks, despite playing 279 minutes (three starts) to the striker’s 316 (four starts).

The midfielder was used from the bench at home to West Ham in GW28, while he was also named as a substitute in the second of City’s DGW25 fixtures at Everton. Sterling had logged eight consecutive league starts before that Goodison Park game.

Much like Aguero, Sterling should profit heavily from games against Fulham and Cardiff. The City pair both blanked in Gameweek 29, when Eddie Howe deviated from his normal gameplan as Bournemouth effectively had all ten outfield players defending. Guardiola’s men still scored once as part of 23 goal attempts and were perhaps a bit unlucky not to rack up a bigger scoreline.

The Bluebirds have been poor against top-six teams this season and Fulham’s results are similarly encouraging for free hitters, triple captainers and owners of City players in general. The Cottagers have shipped 32 goals in 11 games against the ‘bigger’ teams this term.

Sterling’s points-per-match figure of 7.3 is the highest in FPL over the campaign so far. The attacker has posted four double-figure returns in his last six starts and captainers can be assured of one start at a minimum.

Paul Pogba (£8.9m) vs Watford (H) & Wolves (a)

The Frenchman logged 180 minutes for his country over the international break, supplying a sumptuous assist away to Moldova last Friday before completing the entire 4-0 win at home to Iceland on Monday evening.

Pogba has been an ever-present under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so far. United also have the benefit of facing two FA Cup semi-finalists in DGW32. Wolves (7th) and Watford (8th) trail sixth-placed Chelsea by 13 and 14 points respectively. The league’s seventh-place finishers may gain a Europa League qualifying spot, though Burnley found that award to be a poisoned chalice this season.

Wolves’ seemingly aspirational nature may see Nuno retain the core of his XI for league games. Watford, on the other hand, appear to be gunning for silverware. Javi Gracia fielded several second-string players away to Man City in GW30 ahead of the Hornets’ quarter-final win against Crystal Palace, as key attackers Troy Deeney (£5.9m) and Gerard Deulofeu (£5.6m) were used from the bench.

Pogba has been on a fairly barren run of points after an explosive start to life with OGS as manager. The midfielder has managed just an assist in the last four gameweeks, totalling eight points over those fixtures. That includes a -1 score in GW29 when the France star missed a penalty at home to Southampton.

Between GW27 and GW30 – which included games against Liverpool (H) and Arsenal (a) – the United man took eight shots, half of which hit the target, and supplied four key passes. Whether or not Pogba will have Marcus Rashford (£7.6m) and Romelu Lukaku (£10.8m) playing ahead of him over the double remains to be seen but the midfielder’s fixtures and pitch-time potential certainly make him an armband contender.

Eden Hazard (£10.9m) vs Cardiff (a) & Brighton (H)

The Chelsea attacker played all available minutes for Belgium over the break, scoring twice (one penalty) at home to Russia last Thursday and netting once away to Cyprus last Sunday. Hazard has one goal and one assist in the past four gameweeks, blanking in BGW31 to the chagrin of investors. In the Blues’ 2-0 defeat away to Everton, the midfielder took three shots (one on target) and made one key pass.

Chelsea’s inconsistency has been a thorn in the side of FPL bosses all season. The fact that Maurizio Sarri’s men have failed to score in eight games out of 30 over the campaign is indicative of the club’s attacking struggles.

That Goodison Park defeat has left Chelsea three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, meaning Hazard’s security of starts for this double gameweek is further boosted as the Blues chase a Champions League spot.

As with Aguero and Pogba, Chelsea’s Belgian star is his club’s first-choice penalty-taker. Hazard takes on Brighton and Cardiff defences that rank first (9) and joint-second (7) respectively for penalties conceded this season.

The Bluebirds’ struggles against the top six are encouraging for Sarri and co, who beat Warnock’s men 4-1 – including a hat-trick from Hazard – back in Gameweek 5. The midfielder also scored and provided an assist in a 2-1 win away to Brighton in GW17.

The Seagulls could have one eye on their FA Cup semi-final when they travel to Stamford Bridge next Wednesday, though league survival will undoubtedly be Chris Hughton’s priority. Brighton have conceded six goals in their last four gameweeks. Hughton’s team are generally more solid against ‘bigger’ sides, with 13 goals shipped across eight fixtures.

While Hazard has flattered to deceive recently, he does have two double-figure hauls over Chelsea’s last six games. Though he may struggle to earn armbands considering City’s fixtures, the Belgium forward’s fixtures and 90-minute potential make him worthy of consideration. Nine of Hazard’s 13 goals this campaign have come against sides in the bottom half of the table.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Christian Eriksen (£9.2m) vs Liverpool (a) & Crystal Palace (H)

Considering Dele Alli (£8.8m) only returned from injury in GW30, Eriksen gets the nod as our differential captaincy pick for the doubles. The 5.4%-owned midfielder scored a penalty in a 30-minute run out during Denmark’s friendly against Kosovo last Thursday, while he can be expected to play 90 in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Switzerland tonight.

Eriksen’s returns have been sporadic this season, with a 13-point haul in GW26 the last time he has posted attacking returns. But the Dane has completed every league match for Tottenham since GW20. The potential absences of yellow-flagged pair Eric Dier (£4.7m) and Harry Winks (£5.5m) would also boost Eriksen’s hopes of logging 180 minutes in DGW32, with the 27-year-old generally being deployed in central midfield as part of Mauricio Pochettino’s 4-1-2-1-2 formation.

The downside of that is a less-advanced role for Eriksen, while a fixture away to Liverpool is undoubtedly difficult. The Reds have only conceded nine times at Anfield so far this campaign, boasting the meanest home and overall defensive record in the league. Jurgen Klopp’s side have conceded three of those nine home goals since GW24, with Leicester (1) and Burnley (2) both breaching the Liverpool rearguard.

Crystal Palace then become the first team to face Spurs at their new stadium. The Eagles have let in 24 of 41 total goals on the road this season. Roy Hodgson’s men last kept a clean sheet in Gameweek 25, when Fulham visited Selhurst Park. Palace – who will be without long-term injury loss Mamadou Sakho (£4.9m) and potentially Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.5m) – have conceded eight goals in their past five league ties.

Spurs’ form has been poor in their last four gameweeks, with Pochettino’s men losing three times and drawing once while conceding seven goals. Eriksen has taken ten shots over that period, hitting the target four times. He also supplied six key passes, four of which came during the 2-1 defeat to Southampton in GW30 when the Dane was Spurs’ standout performer. Eriksen is unquestionably a left-field captaincy pick but for those seeking a sharp ‘sword’ to the ‘shield’ picks of the masses, the Tottenham midfielder could be armband material.