FPL Gameweek 17 – Captain Picks

Heavy hitters’ minutes in Europe will have to be monitored ahead of GW17’s armband selection as two premium forwards and FPL’s two top scorers compete for the captaincy.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Harry Kane (£12.5m) vs Burnley (H)

Rotated in GW16 ahead of a must-win Champions League clash against Barcelona tonight, Kane played just 16 minutes against Leicester on Saturday – getting a well-earned rest while dashing the hopes of Mohamed Salah vice-captainers everywhere.

The Spurs striker has returned points in each of his last five league starts, bagging four goals and notching two assists. That run ended with a 12-point haul at home to Southampton in GW15. Kane sits joint-top for shots on target (27) alongside Salah, with over half of his total efforts on goal (51) accurate. Two of the striker’s last three league goals have also come at Wembley as FPL’s priciest forward improves on his home record.

Tottnham’s GW17 opponents Burnley kept just a fourth clean sheet of the season against Brighton at the weekend. Only Fulham (40) have conceded more times than Sean Dyche’s side (32), while the Clarets continue to lead the league for shots allowed per game on average (20.7).

Asked before the win away to Leicester about Kane potentially needing a rest, Mauricio Pochettino said: “Yes, we are thinking about that too. At the moment we see him with plenty of energy and that is why he plays. We'll see tomorrow. Every day we assess the player. Then we assess on Tuesday. But of course if we play with some players and repeat in every game then it is because we believe they can cope with the demands, physical demands. He is not irreplaceable, but if he feels well and with energy then Harry is one of the best players in Europe and there is no point to rest him of he is okay to play. There is no point.”

Having been handed a rare benching as Lucas Moura (£7.0m) played up front – Fernando Llorente (£5.6m) was not part of Tottenham's GW16 matchday squad – Kane looks primed for maximum minutes in the next couple of gameweeks at least. Once he comes through Spurs’ UCL clash, the 30.1%-owned forward looks set to GW17’s most-captained player by a distance.

Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) vs Everton (H)

FPL’s second-highest scorer (106) was used as a ‘false nine’ in GW16 as Man City were defeated for the first time this season. Leroy Sane (£9.5m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) flanked Sterling – with the Algerian sometimes leading the line – as Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) was dropped to the bench for the Stamford Bridge clash. The Brazilian striker’s introduction early in the second half for Sane saw Sterling playing in a more familiar role wide on the left.

Despite being overrun at times in the first half, Chelsea did not allow the Citizens a big chance as the home side won 2-0. Sterling had one decent opportunity from close range in the opening period but fluffed his attempt straight at Kepa (£5.5m).

After his side’s first loss and failure to score in a league match this season, Pep Guardiola said: “In the first half, we were exceptional. In general, we were fantastic. I don't have any regrets. We came and showed we wanted to win. We created chances. They had one in 44 minutes and we conceded a goal. Sometimes that happens. It is emotional for me to see these players do what they do every three days. We were outstanding except for five to eight minutes.”

The key words for fantasy managers in that excerpt are “every three days” as the threat of rotation continues to loom heavy over squads. However, the Spanish manager said today that "we have 15 players available" (for tomorrow's clash against Hoffenheim) after ruling out David Silva (£8.7m) for "a few weeks". On rotation, Guardiola added: "I can't do it too much." Goal difference means the Manchester outfit are more-or-less guaranteed top spot in Group F, whatever the result against the German side.

Despite a two-point return in GW16, Sterling – who was rested in GW15 – has scored 50 points in his last five league starts. Six of the attacker’s eight goals and three of seven assists have come at the Etihad.

City’s GW17 visitors Everton have conceded 10 of 19 goals on the road. Marco Silva’s men have kept two clean sheets in the last five gameweeks – including a shut-out at Stamford Bridge in GW12 – and were seconds away from keeping Liverpool scoreless at Anfield in GW14. Concessions at home to Newcastle (1) and Watford (2) in the past two gameweeks are less convincing, however.

While the Toffees could prove sticky opposition, City have scored 30 times in eight home fixtures this season. Not many would bank on Guardiola’s men failing to score in successive league games, while Sterling’s form is impossible to ignore in the captaincy debate.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.5m) vs Southampton (a)

Since a 16-point haul against Spurs in GW14, Aubameyang has almost as many prices rises (6) as points scored (7).

The striker missed two big chances at home to Huddersfield in GW16 but supplied the assist for a late Lucas Torreira (£5.1m) winner.

Aubameyang owners were relieved that he was not the Gunners forward pulled off at half time in that clash, as Unai Emery hooked Alexandre Lacazette (£9.6m) in order to switch from 3-5-2 to a four-man defence.

Considering defensive injuries and suspensions, the Arsenal boss might be more likely to employ a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 in upcoming games. While ‘Auba’ and ‘Laca’ would battle for one striker spot in that scenario, the Gabonese’s ability to play in a wide-left position does no harm to his pitch-time potential.

Having deployed a youthful XI in Arsenal’s last Europa League tie, Emery could once more rest his big guns for Thursday’s game at home to Qarabag. The Gunners face a big EFL Cup quarter-final at home to Spurs three days after the trip to Southampton this weekend.

The Saints, under new boss Ralph Hasenhüttl, lost 1-0 away to Cardiff in GW16 as a Jan Vestergaard (£4.6m) blunder let Callum Paterson (£5.3m) in for the winner. Southampton allowed the Bluebirds 13 efforts on goal at the Cardiff City stadium; all but one of those were taken inside the box.

Aubameyang has started each of Arsenal’s last seven league matches, completing 90 minutes in every fixture since GW12. A haul at St Mary’s on Sunday could send the striker’s already-rocketing price into orbit.

Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) vs Manchester United (H)

Fresh off a GW16 hat-trick, Salah just edges out Eden Hazard (£10.9m) for the final premium spot in the Gameweek 17 captain picks. The Egyptian destroyed Bournemouth’s defence at the Vitality Stadium last Saturday to net a 21-point haul.

Despite being offside for his first strike, Salah finished with aplomb before giving Nathan Ake (£5.0m), Steve Cook (£4.6m) and particularly Asmir Begovic (£4.5m) the run-around as part of goals two and three.

Having shot into the lead in the overall points standings, Salah will undoubtedly attract armband attention for Liverpool’s home clash with Manchester United. The Reds’ star attacker has blanked just twice at home this season and has posted one double-figure score (15) at Anfield (vs Cardiff in GW10).

Jose Mourinho’s side have shipped 26 goals this campaign, with 15 of those let in on their travels. The Red Devils only conceded to Fulham via the penalty spot last weekend in a dominating performance, allowing Claudio Ranieri’s men 10 efforts on goal (five inside the box). However, it is difficult to assess the United defence from GW16 considering the Cottagers' poor showing.

Salah blanked in both appearances against Man Utd last season, with Ashley Young (£5.7m) pivotal in frustrating the midfielder. However, in his current role at the tip of Jurgen Klopp’s attack, the Egypt attacker could cause the United defence a whole different set of problems.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Chicharito (£6.4m) vs Fulham (a)

In the last three gameweeks, the Mexican striker has scored a third of West Ham’s nine-goal total. Chicarito’s introduction to the starting line-up is paying dividends for Manuel Pellegrini, as the manager’s 4-4-2 formation seems to be bringing the best out of the Irons’ attack.

With 24 points in those three starts since GW14, Hernandez has the recent form to take into an away clash with the league’s worst defence. Fulham have conceded nine times in the four gameweeks that Ranieri has been in charge for, as the Italian struggles to plug a leaky Cottagers backline.

With Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m) sidelined until 2019 and Lucas Perez (£6.2m) forced off in GW16 due to a foot injury, Hernandez’s place in Pellegrini’s XI looks assured for the time being. Owned by just 4.3% of managers, the striker is an intriguing differential armband option in a goal-happy Hammers outfit.