FPL Gameweek 36 – Captain Picks

Liverpool assets have the greatest armband claim in GW36 as Huddersfield arrive on Merseyside, with many remaining triple captain chips set to be used for the Anfield tie. However, Mohamed Salah’s New York excursion has sown some seeds of doubt. Man City’s visit to Burnley puts their attackers in the frame, while Heung-min Son’s Champions League suspension boosts his captaincy credentials.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Mohamed Salah (£13.2m) vs Huddersfield (H)

An assist for James Milner’s (£5.6m) penalty last Sunday saw Salah make it four consecutive gameweeks with an attacking return. The midfielder took four shots in DGW35, three inside Cardiff’s penalty area. One of those constituted a missed ‘big chance’ as Neil Etheridge (£4.6m) kept Salah scoreless.

The Liverpool star has scored twice and provided three assists over the past six gameweeks, following a run of three blanks. However, his most recent double-figure score was back in Gameweek 23 – which was also the last outing in which he earned bonus points.

Salah could not ask for a better fixture than the visit of Huddersfield to earn a points haul. The relegated Terriers have conceded 16 times in their last five fixtures. That includes letting in four goals on three separate occasions. The last time Jan Siewert’s men conceded less than two goals in a game was their 1-0 loss to Brighton in GW29.

With Liverpool having five days between Friday night’s kick-off against Huddersfield and their Champions League semi-final first leg in Barcelona, rotation in the Reds’ ranks will hopefully not be a GW36 issue. Salah has been an ever-present for Jurgen Klopp, with the Egyptian not featuring in the German’s starting XI just once this season.

While Salah is one of several players that could come off early on Friday if Liverpool are cruising, that is unlikely to deter many owners. FPL’s top scorer is set to be heavily backed with the regular armband and triple captaincy in Gameweek 36.

Salah’s jaunt to New York for the Time 100 Gala on Tuesday night caused some concern, but Jurgen Klopp went some way to allaying those fears in his press conference on Thursday. The Liverpool boss said: “He's back. Travelling these days is no problem. Yes he missed a session but today he will be back.” On team selection, Klopp added: “This will be the last game I overthink anything. The things people think about, the game, is already enough. I will not push that preparation with a fresh line-up. We have enough time to recover for the next game. Barcelona has nothing to do with Friday night.”

Sadio Mane (£10.0m) vs Huddersfield (H)

The Senegal attacker made four key passes against Cardiff, creating big chances for both Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) and Jordan Henderson (£5.3m). Mane also fired off three goal attempts (two inside the box) but failed to hit the target with any of his shots.

Last weekend’s three-point score made it three blanks in four for Mane. Prior to that, the midfielder had returned attacking points in seven out of nine gameweeks – a run which included three double-figure hauls.

Huddersfield have conceded 19 times in five away games against top-six opposition this season, while letting in 11 goals over five fixtures at home to ‘bigger’ teams.

Mane has outscored Salah by 42 to 32 over the last six gameweeks. That includes six bonus points for the Senegalese winger, who is also more affordable for those looking to invest in the Liverpool midfield this week. For FPL bosses holding both players, choosing which of the golden-boot chasers to armband is a good problem to have.

Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) vs Burnley (a)

For those handing the armband to a Manchester City player this weekend, both Sterling and Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) are viable candidates. The England winger beats his team-mate into the GW36 captaincy analysis due to Pep Guardiola’s unwillingness to even substitute Sterling at the moment.

The midfielder has completed each of City’s last six games in all competitions, while Aguero’s minutes have been managed after he picked up a slight injury back in DGW32. Both players can be expected to start each of the club’s final three league games but Sterling’s 90-minute potential gives him a minor edge in the captaincy debate.

With Leroy Sane (£9.3m) a potential starter if Bernardo Silva (£7.6m) is required in midfield due to injuries, Sterling’s competition for wing spots could also be diminished. He provided the assist for Sane’s strike against Man Utd on Wednesday night in City’s 2-0 victory. Sterling blanked at home to Spurs in the club’s other DGW35 fixture, missing a big chance as his team carved out a 1-0 win.

Burnley have conceded nine goals in the last six gameweeks, with Liverpool netting four of those back in GW30. Over ten fixtures against top-six opposition, Sean Dyche’s men have conceded 27 times. 17 of those goals were let in across six away games, with the Clarets conceding ten times in four visits from ‘bigger’ sides to Turf Moor. The Citizens put five past Burnley – who have now reached the magic 40-point mark – at the Etihad back in Gameweek 9.

While Liverpool’s fixture is more alluring, City assets remain viable armband options with both teams facing three ‘must-win’ games up to Gameweek 38. Seemingly immune from rotation at the moment as City have no European distractions, Sterling has the form and fixture to heavily reward his backers in GW36.

Heung-min Son (£8.8m) vs West Ham (H)

Suspended for the first leg of Tottenham’s Champions League semi-final against Ajax next Tuesday, Son’s GW36 pitch time is not in doubt. The attacker blanked in the first fixture of Spurs’ DGW35 schedule as Mauricio Pochettino’s men lost 1-0 to Man City. Son missed a big chance at the Etihad, while his other effort on goal from inside the box was also saved by Ederson (£5.6m).

The South Korean struggled to impact proceedings against a dogged Brighton on Tuesday night as Spurs stuttered to a 1-0 win thanks to a late Christian Eriksen (£9.3m) strike. Son had four shots against the Seagulls, with two taken inside the box, though failed to hit the target with any attempt. Tottenham did not create a single big chance during that game as Brighton camped in at Spurs’ new stadium. This weekend’s home fixture against West Ham, however, may be a different story for Son and co.

In the last six gameweeks, the Hammers have conceded 13 times. Huddersfield put three past West Ham in BGW31, while Manuel Pellegrini’s men conceded twice in each of the other five fixtures. Over that period, the Irons allowed their opponents 21 big chances. West Ham last kept a clean sheet at home to Newcastle in GW29.

With Son assured of a GW36 start, he provides a tempting differential to the masses that will undoubtedly captain a Liverpool player. Prior to his double-blank in DGW35, the attacker had scored four goals in three games across all competitions while registering an assist in a three-minute GW34 cameo.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) vs Arsenal (H)

At the time of writing, Vardy’s ownership sat at 9.7% - just low enough for the striker to sneak in as our differential captaincy pick. The Leicester forward has scored nine times in the last ten gameweeks. Eight of those goals have come since Claude Puel’s exit from the club ahead of GW28.

Since then, Vardy also has two assists to his name along with a huge 13 bonus points. The striker has scored an average of 8.25 points per match from GW28. He has returned attacking point four times (three goals, one assist) in seven games against top-six opposition this season.

Arsenal’s only away shut-out of the campaign came against a ten-man Watford in GW34. The Gunners have three clean sheets over their last six league outings, with the other two recorded at the Emirates. Unai Emery’s men shipped six goals across DGW35, with Crystal Palace and Wolves both putting three past the Spaniard’s team.

With Arsenal juggling a top-four race and the Europa League semi-finals, Emery continues to switch formations and personnel. Whatever way the Gunners boss sets up his troops, it is difficult to see the clinical Vardy not getting at least one opportunity to rattle the net. The forward is an intriguing, in-form armband differential for FPL managers seeking to take a risk in Gameweek 36.