FPL Gameweek 24 – Captain Picks

Mohamed Salah’s consistency continues to be a defining attribute in the armband debate though assets from Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United all offer attractive options for this midweek round of games.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Mohamed Salah (£13.6m) vs Leicester (H)

The Liverpool midfielder delivered a fifth double-figure score in six gameweeks with a brace at home to Crystal Palace in GW23. Salah’s two strikes were his first from open play since a GW16 hat-trick.

James Milner (£5.6m), the Reds’ recognised first-choice penalty taker, received two yellow cards against the Eagles and will serve a ban in GW24. Jurgen Klopp’s men were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves in the third round, meaning the club’s next fixture is the visit of Leicester on Wednesday.

Both Milner’s absence and a long rest are just further reasons for backing Salah with the armband for Gameweek 24. The midfielder is now averaging 9.6 points per match (PPM) at home to non-top-six sides, while 10.6 is his average score over the past six gameweeks.

Leicester conceded four times to Wolves at Molineux last Saturday in a dire defensive display. Harry Maguire (£5.4m) is a slight doubt for the Anfield game after being substituted due to injury during that clash. Claude Puel’s team allowed Nuno’s men 12 attempts on goal last time out, with five of those opportunities deemed ‘big chances’.

Salah was easily the most-captained player in GW23, with almost two million managers handing him the armband. The consistency offered by the 50.1%-owned midfielder will again be hard to look beyond in GW24, though there are several other appealing options for non-owners.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m) vs Cardiff (H)

The game’s highest-scoring forward (136) takes on the division’s second-worst defence in Gameweek 24. Aubameyang comes into the home tie against Cardiff on the back of consecutive blanks, having spurned a big chance against Chelsea at the Emirates in GW23. The striker tops the league for big chances missed (16) this season.

Auba’s record at home to teams outside the top six is encouraging, however. He has averaged 6.5 points per game against those clubs, while 12 of his 14 goals this season have come against non-top-six sides. Cardiff are conceding almost 15 goal attempts per fixture this campaign, which rises to 17 for the Bluebirds’ away days. Neil Warnock’s men have conceded six times in the past four gameweeks (three to both Spurs and Newcastle) while shutting out Leicester and Huddersfield.

Despite Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) being the Arsenal striker that scored against the Blues last weekend, Aubameyang was the forward who remained on the pitch for 90 minutes. The Gabonese attacker has been substituted once – in the Gunners’ 5-1 hammering at Liverpool – since GW12. That guarantee of pitch time is a positive for owners considering handing Auba the armband.

Leroy Sane (£9.7m) vs Newcastle (a)

While Sane is our pick of the Man City bunch for GW24, Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) is an equally viable option – particularly considering Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) was left out of the Citizens’ matchday 18 for the 3-0 win at Huddersfield last Sunday as a “tactical decision”.

The Algerian also started the EFL Cup semi-final formality away to Burton Albion. City won 1-0 – confirming a GW27 blank for themselves and Everton – as both Sane and Sterling were handed the night off. Pitch time for the duo in City’s FA Cup tie at home to Burnley on Saturday could be the main decider for which asset is the most solid captain pick in GW24.

Sane’s PPM away to sides outside the top six now stands at 6.9 following a 12-point haul in GW23. The winger assisted Sterling’s diving header before netting from a Sergio Aguero (£11.2m) knockdown.

The midfielder has bagged 31 points in the past four gameweeks, while starting every league fixture but one since GW13. The return of Benjamin Mendy (£6.1m) could impact Sane’s minutes – the defender was “not ready” for GW23 and made the bench for the Burton trip, coming on play 30 odd minutes. However, the German’s form and the use of Mahrez may offset any league selection issues for the time being.

Guardiola’s men take on a Magpies side with no wins and no clean sheets in eight games against top-six opposition this season. Rafa Benitez’s men conceded 19 times over those fixtures and have shipped nine goals in the past five gameweeks. A 3-0 win at home to Cardiff in GW23 was Newcastle’s first shut-out in that period.

City have scored 11 times since GW20, so goals are on the cards at St James’s Park in GW24. Sane has been directly involved in four of those strikes, an impressive stat considering he managed just six minutes off the bench against Southampton in the first game of that four-fixture run. The 17.1%-owned midfielder is a viable armband alternative to Salah considering his stellar recent form and City’s attacking prowess.

Paul Pogba (£8.7m) vs Burnley (H)

The Frenchman continued his FPL scoring spree with an eight-point return in GW23, courtesy of a penalty. Including that spot-kick, Pogba fired off seven goal attempts (four inside the box) at home to Brighton but an inability to find his range that day – all six open-play shots were off target – meant the midfielder was unable to notch a third successive double-figure haul at Old Trafford.

Pogba’s freedom in attack is plain to see under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while penalty-taking duties mean he edges out Marcus Rashford (£7.7m) in our armband thinking for United’s home tie against Burnley in GW24.

On United’s spot-kick pecking order and the France star’s technique, OGS said: “Paul is the penalty taker but we have got players who want to take penalties and that is the key. If they want to take it, they can argue among themselves but Paul is the nominated one. He scores them, which is what matters. I wouldn’t have done it that way. I would have run to the ball and smashed it, but he kept his calm. It took two minutes before he was allowed to take it so that shows how composed he is.”

Solskjaer’s side take on a Clarets outfit who have improved defensively since Tom Heaton (£4.8m) edged out Joe Hart (£4.4m) for the Burnley No 1 spot. Sean Dyche’s men have allowed opponents just over 10 shots per game since Heaton’s introduction in GW20, an average which had been sitting in or around 20 for the opening half of the season.

While Burnley have certainly improved at the back of late, conceding just twice in the last four gameweeks, taking on this United side at home will be a real test of that new-found defensive resolve. Pogba owners will no doubt be monitoring the Frenchman in the Red Devils’ FA Cup fourth-round clash at Arsenal tomorrow before making any final armband decisions.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Christian Eriksen (£9.4m) vs Watford (H)

The Dane recorded an assist in GW23 as Spurs left it late to beat Fulham 2-1. Eriksen also picked up a bonus point from the Craven Cottage clash. In seven starts from GW17, the midfielder has recorded six attacking FPL returns (4G, 2A) while earning five bonus points.

That equates to a PPM figure of 6.3 ahead of Watford’s visit to Wembley in GW24. With Harry Kane (£12.5m) and Dele Alli (£8.9m) both sidelined until March – and Heung-Min Son (£8.6m) away at the Asian Cup – Eriksen’s attacking output will be vital to Spurs in GW24 and beyond.

Watford were fortunate to keep a GW23 clean sheet as Chris Wood saw a strike incorrectly ruled out for offside. The Hornets allowed Burnley 12 attempts on goal (nine inside the box) in that clash, including four big chances. Javi Gracia’s men conceded seven times in the preceding four gameweeks.

The return of Lucas Moura (£6.9m) means Eriksen will have another outlet for his assist potential, while the availability of midfielders such as Eric Dier (£4.7m) means the Denmark international will have more licence to get forward whether Pochettino goes with 4-2-3-1 or employs a three-man backline.

Eriksen ranks fifth, just behind Son, on FPL’s form standings for midfielders going into GW24. The 7.4%-owned midfielder would certainly be a risky captain pick but for those seeking an armband differential, Spurs’ Danish star could be your man.