FPL Gameweek 28 – Captain Picks

Pitch time is set to be a huge factor in the Gameweek 28 captaincy call as clubs approach the second round of fixtures in a week. Mohamed Salah will look to bounce back from a poor GW27 showing, while Sergio Aguero’s EFL Cup final minutes may be an armband deterrent. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can appease owners in a favourable home fixture, as Paul Pogba aims to continue a run of no consecutive blanks under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Mohamed Salah (£13.6m) vs Watford (H)

The Liverpool star once more toiled in a top-six contest as he blanked away to Manchester United in GW27. Despite being at 0-0, Jurgen Klopp decided to substitute Salah with 78 minutes gone at Old Trafford meaning the Egyptian has just one attacking return over the past four gameweeks.

Salah managed only one off-target shot against United and struggled to keep the ball, losing possession with 15 of his 41 touches. On the attacker’s performance, Jamie Carragher said: “Every time the ball goes to Mo Salah he is losing the ball, so Liverpool can't really connect with different people. It keeps falling down and they are getting done on counter-attacks.”

The upside of the midfielder’s early withdrawal is that he should be somewhat fresher for tomorrow’s visit of Watford. Salah’s record at home to non-top-six sides this season is excellent – he has scored nine goals and provided three assists, averaging 8.8 points per match, in 10 home fixtures against clubs outside the top six.

The Hornets are flying high in seventh place and boast two clean sheets in the last four gameweeks. Javi Gracia’s attack tore Cardiff apart in a 5-1 victory in GW27 but his defence allowed the Bluebirds 15 goal attempts, seven of which were inside the box and four of which were deemed big chances.

Salah may return to the centre-forward role in GW28 with Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) a big injury doubt. Klopp could also decide to hand Daniel Sturridge (£5.6m) or Divock Origi (£5.0m) a start up front, which would allow Salah to face off against the Hornets’ deputy left-back Adam Masina (£4.3m).

While Firmino’s likely absence is not ideal for Salah, who links up well with the Brazilian, the midfielder’s returns against ‘bottom 14’ teams cannot be overlooked in the captaincy debate. And with pitch time set to be a big factor in armband decisions for this midweek set of fixtures, Salah’s security of starts is a bonus for Gameweek 28.

Sergio Aguero (£11.6m) vs West Ham (H)

The Argentine played all 120 minutes of Manchester City’s EFL Cup final win against Chelsea, hardly ideal preparation for West Ham’s visit to the Etihad tomorrow.

On the other hand, Gabriel Jesus (£10.0m) was again ruled out of action with a hamstring problem for the cup decider. An update on the Brazilian striker’s fitness should surface from Pep Guardiola’s press conference this afternoon but Aguero could be City’s only fit striker for Gameweek 28. While Guardiola could use a host of his attackers in the ‘false nine’ position, the Argentine started three games in a week over GW25 and GW26 while Jesus was available.

UPDATE: Jesus has been ruled out of GW28.

Aguero scored two hat-tricks over that three-game period, netted against Schalke in the Champions League last week and had a strike ruled out for offside against the Blues at Wembley. The forward has posted attacking returns in seven of eight starts since Gameweek 19, while 14 of his 17 goals have come at the Etihad. While managed minutes for Aguero is a legitimate worry, the in-form forward demands consideration for the armband this gameweek.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) vs Bournemouth (H)

The Gabon forward caused further anguish for owners last Sunday as he found himself on the bench at the Emirates. Aubameyang managed 17 minutes as a substitute and could have salvaged something for those who handed him the GW27 armband – he almost registered an assist and saw a shot inside the box blocked.

That was Auba’s first benching since Gameweek 9, so the striker appears a good bet to start at home to Bournemouth tomorrow. Alex Iwobi (£5.4m) is an injury doubt for the Cherries’ visit, something which could also positively influence Aubameyang’s selection – albeit in a wide-left attacking role, particularly if Unai Emery continues with a four-man backline.

The forward has a PPM of 6.5 at home to sides outside the top six, which takes into account his one-point cameo against Southampton. Along with that, 86% (13 out of 15) of Auba’s goals have been scored against lower-table teams.

Since beating Chelsea 4-0 in GW24, Bournemouth have lost twice and drawn once. Eddie Howe’s men have conceded six times over that three-game period. The Cherries’ last clean sheet away from home came against Fulham in Gameweek 10.

Aubameyang has scored at least five points in each of his last four home starts against non-top-six clubs, twice notching maximum bonus points. The striker also has penalty-taking duties to add to his appeal. While owners have been stung on multiple occasions, Gameweek 28 could be Aubameyang’s redemption.

Paul Pogba (£8.9m) vs Crystal Palace (a)

Sunday’s 0-0 draw at home to Liverpool was just Pogba’s second blank since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as interim boss at Man United. The midfielder managed two shots (one on target) and one key pass in the GW27 stalemate.

The Frenchman has scored 33 points in the past four gameweeks. He also added a goal and an assist to his overall attacking tally in the Red Devils’ 2-0 win against Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round last week.

Palace have kept one clean sheet over their last four league games, at home to Fulham in GW25. Roy Hodgson could again be without Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.5m), who missed the 4-1 win away to Leicester last weekend with a “hamstring problem”, while Mamadou Sakho (£4.9m) limped off at the King Power stadium with a knee issue. United are the only top-six side that the Eagles have kept scoreless this season (out of eight games) in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford back in Gameweek 13.

Pogba has been a 90-minute man under Solskjaer so far and considering how many other injury issues the United chief has, the France star offers guaranteed pitch time for managers considering handing him the armband.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Joao Moutinho (£5.4m) vs Huddersfield (a)

With Huddersfield failing to offer any resistance at the back since Jan Siewert took over, our differential captaincy pick again has a fixture against the Terriers. Last week’s selection Salomon Rondon (£5.8m) scored 12 points, though Newcastle had the advantage of playing against 10 men for 70 minutes.

Huddersfield allowed the Magpies 29 efforts on goal at St James’ Park, the second time in four fixtures under Siewert that the league’s bottom side have conceded over 20 shots in a game. All but six of the Magpies’ goal attempts were taken inside the box. Siewert’s side have allowed their opponents 71 shots (54 inside the box) and 11 big chances over the last four gameweeks.

Moutinho’s relative safety in Nuno Espirito Santo’s XI sees the 8.5%-owned midfielder our pick for this midweek gameweek ahead of Diogo Jota (£6.1m), who has seen his pitch time managed in Wolves’ past three league fixtures. Ex-Monaco man Moutinho has provided five assists in the last six gameweeks as a more advanced role behind Nuno’s front two, usually consisting of Jota and Raul Jimenez (£6.8m), has paid dividends for the midfielder.

Moutinho made four key passes in Wolves’ 1-1 draw away to Bournemouth last Saturday and is averaging two key passes per match over the course of this season. Up against a Terriers outfit that have shipped 10 goals in four games, the set-piece specialist’s ability to create chances could lead to further attacking returns. For owners seeking a lowly-owned gamble, Moutinho might just be armband material.