FPL Gameweek 29 – Captain Picks

Raheem Sterling could benefit in GW29 after a midweek benching, while across Manchester the pitch time of Paul Pogba looks unquestionable. Mohamed Salah and Raul Jimenez will be aiming to appease owners after surprising blanks, as Gonzalo Higuain offers differential armband material against Fulham’s porous defence.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) vs Bournemouth (a)

The Manchester City winger appears the safest armband option in Pep Guardiola’s ranks for Gameweek 29. Sterling was used off the bench in City’s 1-0 win at home to West Ham last night, receiving praise from his manager post-match. Guardiola said: “Raheem & Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) made a step forward in terms of our intensity in the final third.”

Sterling has returned double figures in three of his last six starts. The midfielder, owned by a paltry 12.4% of managers, is in double figures for goals (12) and FPL assists (13) this season. He could even be deployed in the ‘false nine’ role – which is not necessarily a positive in fantasy terms – at the Vitality stadium if Guardiola chooses to rotate Sergio Aguero (£11.6m). However, with Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m) a likely absentee, it would be no surprise to see the Argentine start for the third time in the space of a week.

Bournemouth shipped five goals at the Emirates yesterday, allowing Arsenal 16 goal attempts – three quarters of which were taken inside the box. It sounds as though first-choice Cherries centre-back Steve Cook (£4.4m) is unlikely to return from injury for GW29, while combative midfielder Jefferson Lerma (£4.5m) serves the second game of a two-match ban. Eddie Howe could use a wing-back system for the visit of City, though that would probably require a full-back filling in one of the central defensive spots. Bournemouth are without a clean sheet in the past four gameweeks.

Sterling fired off three shots (two on target) in his 35-minute cameo against West Ham, while also missing a big chance. With pitch time once more set to be a big factor in our captaincy decisions, the England forward edges out team-mate Aguero in the GW29 armband picks as he seeks a fourth double-digit score in seven gameweeks.

Paul Pogba (£8.9m) vs Southampton (H)

The Manchester United midfielder has now returned attacking points nine times in 11 gameweeks, having assisted an Ashley Young (£5.7m) strike against Crystal Palace last night.

Pogba played on the right-hand side of a midfield three at Selhurst Park, tasked with greater defensive responsibility due to the absence of regular midfield partners Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera (both £5.0m). The Frenchman still managed to fire off three shots (one on target), while supplying two key passes.

Southampton kept a first clean sheet since GW21 in a 2-0 win at home to Fulham yesterday. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s outfit did allow their visitors 14 shots (seven inside the box), with the Cottagers missing two big chances and hitting the woodwork.

Pogba has not earned less than three points in a match since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival ahead of Gameweek 18, posting just two blanks over 11 fixtures. The midfielder has logged 90 minutes ten times across that period, his only substitution coming away to Fulham when United were 3-0 ahead. A strong security of starts, along with both form and a favourable home fixture, puts Pogba firmly in the frame for the Gameweek 29 armband.

Mohamed Salah (£13.5m) vs Everton (a)

The midfielder disappointed his legion of captainers last night, failing to get involved in the attacking returns as Liverpool hammered Watford 5-0.

Salah did everything but score against the Hornets as he gave left-back Adam Masina (£4.3m) the run-around. The midfielder totalled as many goal attempts (4) as Sadio Mane (£9.7m), hitting the target twice and the post once.

Salah was again used from the right wing as Mane took up the No 9 role in GW28. All four of the Senegal star’s shots were taken inside the box, compared to two for the Egyptian. The availability of Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) for the Merseyside derby could determine whether Salah or Mane is the more attractive option for those seeking to captain a Liverpool asset in GW29. James Milner (£5.6m) may be due a rest after starting both GW27 and GW28, which would assure penalty-taking duties for Salah at Goodison Park.

Everton have kept one clean sheet in seven fixtures against top-six opposition this season, shutting out Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in Gameweek 12. The Toffees’ 3-0 win away to Cardiff on Tuesday was the first time in four league games that Marco Silva’s men kept their opponents scoreless.

While Salah frustrated those who handed him the armband in GW28, there were encouraging signs ahead of a battle with the attack-minded Lucas Digne (£5.3m) on Sunday. Though the fixtures for both Manchester clubs are likely to sway armband thinking, the £13.5m man and team-mate Mane are worthy of captaincy consideration for GW29.

MID-PRICED CANDIDATE

Raul Jimenez (£6.9m) vs Cardiff (H)

Wolves and Jimenez flattered to deceive away to Huddersfield on Tuesday night, with the Mexican replaced after 78 minutes as Wanderers went on to lose 1-0.

The striker managed just one off-target shot against the Terriers before a rare early substitution. But a home clash against a leaky Cardiff side should offer Jimenez and his team-mates an immediate opportunity to bounce back from defeat at the John Smith’s stadium.

The Bluebirds have conceded nine times in three gameweeks since shutting Bournemouth out at home in GW25. Neil Warnock’s men allowed Everton 12 shots (eight inside the box) in GW28’s 3-0 defeat, which followed a 5-1 hammering from Watford in GW27.

Seven of Jimenez’s ten goals this season have been scored at Molineux and his early night in GW28 should be a bonus ahead of Cardiff’s visit. Despite being owned by nearly 36% of managers, the forward will essentially be a differential captain pick this weekend. For those seeking to take a risk with the GW29 armband, the Benfica loanee could be worth a punt.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Gonzalo Higuain (£9.5m) vs Fulham (a)

With Chelsea playing in both of the upcoming blank gameweeks, Higuain has the perfect opponents to audition against this weekend in Fulham. With such a favourable fixture, some FPL bosses are moving early for the striker ahead of BGWs 31 and 33.

Higuain’s pitch time since arriving at Stamford Bridge is encouraging – the Argentine has started all four league games since moving from AC Milan. He was only an extra-time substitute in Chelsea’s EFL Cup final defeat to Man City and came off after 83 minutes in the 2-0 win over Spurs last night. The forward took three off-target shots in a cagey London derby, hitting the post while being otherwise well-marshalled by Toby Alderweireld (£6.0m).

In the striker’s favour is his 15-point haul against Huddersfield in Gameweek 25, his only game against a bottom-three side so far. A home brace saw Higuain rack up all three bonus points as Chelsea’s attacking quality shone through against lower-quality opposition.

Fulham are in freefall, with ten goals conceded in four defeats over as many gameweeks. Claudio Ranieri’s job is reportedly hanging by a thread. Whether or not the Italian is in the hotseat for Chelsea’s visit, Higuain will be going up against the league’s worst defence on Sunday. Currently owned by just 2.8% of FPL bosses, the striker has all the makings of a lucrative differential captaincy pick.