FPL Gameweek 9 – Captain Picks

With doubts over the fitness of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino enters the GW9 captaincy frame. Eden Hazard’s consistency is hard to ignore, while a juicy home tie against Burnley should give Sergio Aguero the chance to record a big haul.


Eden Hazard (£11.3m) vs Man Utd (H)

A goal and an assist away to Southampton in GW8 saw the Belgian record a fourth double-digit haul of the season. Hazard has now posted attacking returns in seven of eight gameweeks so far.

Despite the visit of Manchester United coming in at 4 on FPL’s Fixture Difficulty Ranking, the reality is slightly different. The Red Devils have conceded 14 times so far this campaign, the joint-fourth worst record in the league.

Hazard has also been a thorn in United’s side over his time in England, netting five goals and supplying two assists in 13 games against the Manchester outfit in all competitions.

Now owned by almost 50% of managers, Hazard’s consistency will ensure his selection as captain by a good chunk of that ownership.

With fixtures against Burnley (a), Crystal Palace (H) and Everton (H) from GW10, the Chelsea star could edge closer to becoming a ‘set-and-forget’ captain choice with returns against United.

Sergio Aguero (£11.3m) vs BUR (H)

A fourth curtailed gameweek in a row is a worry for Aguero’s captaincy credentials but a home tie against Burnley is difficult to resist.

The Clarets have conceded an average of 20.1 shots per game over eight fixtures, the highest rate in the league by a distance. That includes allowing Cardiff 20 efforts at goal (five on target) in GW8 and conceding 19 shots (two on target) to Huddersfield in GW9. Sean Dyche’s men have managed just one clean sheet this season in an anomalous 4-0 victory at home to Bournemouth in GW6.

City (174) and Aguero (38) top the team and player goal-attempt charts, despite the striker failing to get a shot off away to Liverpool in GW8 as Pep Guardiola’s team mustered just six efforts (two on target). The forward did have a strong penalty claim in the first half, however.

The Argentine was hooked after 65 minutes at Anfield as a noted foot problem continues to be managed. Despite those limited minutes, Aguero has two goals and two assists to his name since GW5.

Not part of the Argentina squad for the second time this season, Guardiola’s No 1 striker has the opportunity to recuperate over the international break unlike his heavy-hitting peers. FPL bosses will hope for an update on Aguero’s fitness ahead of GW9.

City do face a long trip to play Shakhtar Donetsk on the Tuesday following Saturday’s clash with Burnley. Despite the break, there is the possibility Aguero could find his league minutes managed once more whether or not his minor injury continues to be an issue.

However, the striker has started every gameweek so far and will be afforded plenty of shooting opportunities by the Clarets from the get-go at the Etihad. While Burnley haven’t allowed a high amount of quality attempts on goal so far, City should make Sean Dyche’s men pay for the amount of shots they concede.

Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) vs HUD (a)

With Mohamed Salah (£12.8m) currently a doubt after going off injured during Egypt’s match against Swaziland last Friday, Sadio Mane (£9.9m) was set to feature in the Gameweek 9 captain picks.

However, the Senegal star appears to have broken his left thumb on international duty; potentially ruling him out of the Huddersfield trip and definitely removing him from the captaincy conversation.

Reports on Monday night suggest Salah is fit for the weekend but the Egyptian must still be assessed by Liverpool, placing further importance on an update either from the club or via Jurgen Klopp in Friday’s press conference.

Up against a Terriers outfit that have conceded 17 times so far this season, a Liverpool attacker must be considered for the armband. At the present time, Firmino represents the safest route into profiting from Liverpool attacking points.

After returning four times in the opening five gameweeks, the Brazil striker has posted three blanks in a row. The downturn in his output has coincided with a stiffening schedule for the Reds, which eases massively from GW9.

A trip to face the Terriers could be the spark that re-lights Firmino’s season in FPL terms, though David Wagner’s side have tightened up somewhat in recent weeks. Over the last four gameweeks, only four sides have allowed opponents fewer big chances than Huddersfield (6). The Terriers have conceded 41 shots over that period, with 31 of those allowed inside the box. The net result of those attempts was seven goals conceded (three at home), a slight improvement on ten (also three at home) over the first four rounds of matches.

Those statistics still suggest that Liverpool will be afforded a decent amount of scoring opportunities at the John Smith’s Stadium. With James Milner (£5.7m) expected to be out for GW9 at least, Firmino also has the potential to be on penalties depending on the fitness of his fellow attackers and Klopp’s preferred second-choice taker.

Firmino’s lack of recent points scoring is a worry for his captain credentials, making him a definite fixture over form pick. The Brazilian has taken just five shots over the last four gameweeks (all inside the box, one on target), though has laid on six chances for his team-mates.

If Salah is passed fit, the Egypt attacker does trump Firmino as a captain pick. Over the same period, the midfielder has fired 13 attempts at goal, with 11 of those inside the box and five overall hitting the target. But if Klopp is coy on Salah’s availability and FPL bosses feel Liverpool’s juicy fixture requires a Reds asset to wear the armband, Firmino is certainly a viable option.

Alexandre Lacazette (£9.6m) vs LEI (H)

In stark contrast to Firmino, the form of Arsenal striker Lacazette propels the Frenchman into the GW9 captaincy conundrum. One of three differential picks for GW8, Lacazette has flown into FPL squads after a 12-point haul away to Fulham. Since commanding the striker spot in Unai Emery’s team from GW3, Lacazette has racked up a huge 42 points.

The now 11.5%-owned forward takes on a Leicester defence that has conceded seven times since GW5. The Foxes will be without the suspended Wes Morgan (£4.5m), which might be a blessing in disguise for Claude Puel. Jonny Evans (£4.9m) is the likeliest deputy for the club captain.

The only question mark over Arsenal’s attack and Lacazette at the current time comes in the form of a league-high goal conversion rate. Almost 20% of the Gunners’ shots have crossed the keeper’s line, while a 47.4% shooting accuracy is also top of the charts.

Lacazette, meanwhile, scored twice from a total of two shots against Fulham in GW8. The striker’s goal conversion rate sits over 20%; while this may not be sustainable for the season, his current deadly form cannot be ignored.

Like Aguero, Lacazette was not part of his national team’s squad over the international break. Rested and currently nailed-on as Arsenal’s frontman, the forward presents a viable captaincy option as he looks to post attacking returns for the seventh gameweek in a row.


David Silva (£8.5m) vs BUR (H)

City’s home tie against Burnley necessitates two captain picks from Guardiola’s squad in GW9. Raheem Sterling (still owned by just 5.4%) was another of the GW8 differential picks but the £11.1m midfielder failed to deliver away to Liverpool.

Leroy Sane (£9.2m) was used from the bench in that game, winning the penalty missed by Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m), but the 5%-owned German may struggle for game time with Benjamin Mendy (£6.2m) available.

The elder of City’s Silvas could also find his minutes curtailed with the return of Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m). However, the Belgian will need to build up match fitness so the Spaniard’s start should be safe for GW9 at least. Silva also has the benefit of being retired from Spain duty.

After being rotated in GW6, ‘El Mago’ has logged 177 minutes over two fixtures. Neither game saw Silva return points, though he has created a chance every 23 minutes in the league so far this season. Amazingly, he has yet to register an assist in any 2018/19 competition.

However, the midfielder has an ‘expected assists’ (xA) total of 2.48; higher than any other player without an assist. While Silva may lack the explosivity factor carried by his other attacking team-mates, it would be surprising to see the 7%-owned midfielder go another 90 minutes without fantasy returns.