FPL Gameweek 20 – Captain Picks

FPL’s two highest scorers are in the captaincy frame this weekend, while Spurs and Manchester United supply a pick each with both clubs finding their attacking groove over Christmas.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Eden Hazard (£11.0m) vs Crystal Palace (a)

The Belgian continued his sublime recent form with a brace away to Watford on Wednesday. That 15-point haul was Hazard’s second double-figure return in three gameweeks, with the Chelsea star posting just one blank since GW14.

The attacker was again used as the ‘false nine’ in GW19, with Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) warming the bench again as Alvaro Morata (£8.5m) failed to make Chelsea’s matchday 18. An injury to Pedro (£6.3m) saw Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.2m) introduced at Vicarage Road, which suggests Maurizio Sarri is keen to continue using Hazard as his lead attacker. Both of those wingers are out for GW20, so the Italian may be forced into fielding an out-and-out striker at Selhurst Park.

After the 2-1 win over the Hornets, the Chelsea boss said of the Belgian’s new position: “In this moment we need this solution because we need to be more solid defensively and with this system we can score and become more solid in the defensive phase. Maybe in the last match, we played better in the first half than we did tonight, but today the application was very good. I think [Hazard] played very well, not only for his two goals, but he was good with his teammates and in open spaces. I like him in every position, he is a great player.”

Hazard has now been directly involved in more goals (19) than he has made appearances (18). Chelsea make a short GW20 trip to take on an in-form Palace side who boast two clean sheets in their last four league ties. However, the Eagles have also shipped five goals over that period and are allowing opponents an average of just over 12 shots per match.

Roy Hodgson’s men are hard to break down at Selhurst Park – Palace have conceded just eight of their 25 goals at home. But Hazard’s form in a Blues outfit averaging 16 goal attempts a game means the Chelsea talisman is a standout armband choice this gameweek.

Mohamed Salah (£13.2m) vs Arsenal (H)

Three double-figure hauls in the last four gameweeks make the Egyptian impossible to ignore in the armband debate. Despite failing to return points against any top-six side so far this season, Salah’s form sees him edge out Richarlison (£7.0m) in the GW20 captain picks. The penalty awarded to the Liverpool attacker against Newcastle was widely debated but FPL owners can rest easy, as no action will be taken over the incident.

That spot-kick goal, along with an assist for Fabinho (£5.5m), means Salah tops the FPL scoring charts with 137 points at the campaign’s halfway mark. The attacker’s penalty was his only shot of the game against the Magpies in an unusually quiet showing, while he also registered two key passes.

Since shutting Huddersfield out in GW16, the Reds’ GW20 visitors Arsenal have conceded to Southampton (3), Burnley (1) and Brighton (1). Liverpool, meanwhile, have scored at least two goals in each fixture since GW15.

Gunners boss Unai Emery is contending with several defensive injuries, which saw Arsenal end the 1-1 draw against Brighton with a back three of Stephan Lichtsteiner (£4.5m), Sokratis (£5.1m) and Granit Xhaka (£5.3m). Salah owners will be salivating at the thought of the midfielder up against such a trio, as the Egypt forward aims for a third consecutive double-figure score.

MID-PRICED CANDIDATES

Heung-Min Son (£8.7m) vs Wolves (H)

The South Korean star has bagged four goals in the space of five days. In doing so, he has edged out Harry Kane (£12.6m) as our armband pick in the Tottenham ranks for GW20. Spurs have scored 11 times in the last two gameweeks, with Son hitting over a third of those along with two assists.

Rotation is clearly a danger considering the options available to Mauricio Pochettino in attack, with Dele Alli (£8.9m) potentially available for the visit of Wolves. However, the manager’s post-match comments on Son are encouraging for owners. Poch said: “What can I say, Sonny is doing a fantastic job for the team. After November he had a rest [from international duty] and was here trying to recover his best and I think he is doing fantastic. He started his fantastic run against Chelsea and until today he is doing a fantastic job for the team. I hope he can keep that level but you know in few weeks he is going to be away from Tottenham because he needs to go with his national team to Dubai to play the Asian Cup.”

While Son’s post-GW22 departure for South Korea duty means owners likely need to plan his exit, it could also mean he is the most-used Tottenham attacker over the Christmas period. On Saturday, the North London side take on a Wolves outfit with just one clean sheet (at home to Bournemouth in GW17) since Gameweek 8.

Over that period, the only time Nuno’s team conceded more than two goals was in GW11 – against Spurs. Having moved ahead of Manchester City in the league table, a goal-happy Tottenham will be aiming to keep hold of second place in GW20. Son’s shining form, as part of an attack firing on all cylinders, single him out as the best armband option in the Tottenham ranks this weekend.

Paul Pogba (£8.0m) vs Bournemouth (H)

The shackles are well and truly off the Manchester United midfielder, who has banked 28 points in the two gameweeks since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment at Old Trafford. Pogba followed a three-assist showing at Cardiff in GW18 with a brace at home to Huddersfield on Wednesday. In those two fixtures, the Frenchman has taken eight shots (five on target) and made five key passes.

On the midfielder’s performance against the Terriers, Solskjaer said: “He (Pogba) has got the attributes for scoring, and got a few assists last game. I was very pleased for him today. Paul is the same, he loves football and loves to go forward.”

United’s GW20 visitors Bournemouth have shipped 11 goals in the last four gameweeks, which includes conceding four to Liverpool in GW16 and five to Spurs on Wednesday. Club captain Simon Francis (£4.4m) is out for at least six months after suffering a serious knee injury in that 5-0 defeat, which could see the Cherries use a three-man backline against the Red Devils – a tactic often employed by Eddie Howe against ‘bigger’ sides.

Captaining Pogba could be the perfect storm for owners of the midfielder, with United’s attacking intent under Solskjaer coming up against a leaky Cherries defence. Bournemouth have conceded 33 times this season, with 19 of those let in on the road. Having not played a minute in GW16 or GW17, the France star should see plenty of pitch time despite the festive fixture pile-up.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m) vs Southampton (a)

A couple of weeks ago, not having a well-owned Manchester City attacker in the premium captain picks would have been unthinkable. Two defeats in a row for the Citizens has seriously shaken up the fantasy landscape, however, with trust in Pep Guardiola’s expensive assets waning.

Despite City’s downturn in form, a trip to Southampton could be the required tonic for the champions. The Saints have yet to keep a clean sheet under new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, conceding six goals in four games. A new-look Southampton defence allowed Huddersfield 16 goal attempts in GW18 and afforded West Ham the same number of efforts in last night's 2-1 defeat.

De Bruyne made his first league start following a knee injury in City’s GW19 loss to Leicester, logging 69 minutes. The Belgium star, who scored a fortunate goal in the defeat against Crystal Palace last weekend, is clearly still building up to full match fitness.

However, the likely absence of Fernandinho (£5.4m) means KDB's GW20 start should be more secure; though attempting to predict Guardiola’s XI on the back of two losses is mission impossible. David Silva (£8.5m) is also back in contention for a starting spot, which further clouds the line-up issue.

De Bruyne also scored against the Foxes in a recent EFL Cup quarter-final, while assist totals of 18 and 21 in the last two seasons are indicative of the Belgian’s ability to create chances. If City can rediscover their attacking mojo on the south coast, the 4.3%-owned KDB could reward any FPL bosses looking to take a captaincy punt in Gameweek 20.