The Premier League winter break has come and gone in a swirl (quite literally in most places) of wind, rain and FFP (Financial Fair Play) controversy. For those unaware FFP has been quite the hot topic over the last few days as Man City have been kicked out of Europe for the next two seasons for spending more money then they’re allowed to – allegedly. It was something Gary Neville was very unhappy about on Monday Night Football, whereas Jamie Carragher seemed unable to make up his mind, flip-flopping between agreement with Neville but also stating City should have been kicked out of this season’s tournament. Who’d have thought that Roy Keane would be the voice of reason as he calmly pointed out to his esteemed colleagues that whether you agree with FFP or not, the rules are the rules whether you like them or not, and if City have broken them, they need to be punished.
Before FFP clogged up our timelines, the first big story – then non-story – was at the start of the gameweek, with Man City’s postponed match against West Ham. Captainers of Sergio Aguero (£12.1m) all let out a collective sigh of relief when City’s match was rearranged to still fall inside Gameweek 26’s ever-widening boundaries. Of course the promise of a City fixture inevitably brings with it the fear of rotation, so those calm fans will be starting to clamour up again ahead of Wednesday night’s match.
I don’t own Aguero but after some the captain hindsight tweets I’ve seen I hope the games rescheduled for tomorrow and he scores a hattrick ⚽️⚽️⚽️— Flapjack (@FlapjackFpl) February 9, 2020
On the pitch, Liverpool made it 26 wins out of 27 with a sluggish performance away at Norwich, as Sadio Mane (£12.2m) came back to haunt previous trigger-happy owners. Man Utd continued to be consistently inconsistent with victory away to Chelsea, thanks to goals from Anthony Martial (£7.9m) and Harry Maguire (£5.2m). Danny Ings (£7.1m) continues to score, while Jamie Vardy (£9.7m) continues to frustrate, and Arsenal celebrated moving up to tenth place like they’d won the league. Small victories I guess, which moves us nicely onto the top captain options for Gameweek 25 ahead of Saturday’s 11:30am deadline.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.7m) vs WHU (H)
It was just two weeks ago in Gameweek 25’s captaincy piece that the idea of Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.7m) being the top captaincy option from a Liverpool team full of them was first purposed. In the two gameweeks since that initial suggestion, TAA has done nothing to change my mind as his 13 points (six and seven) in that time period has led him to 153 points total – one more than Sadio Mane and just 13 behind Mo Salah (£12.8m) for the season. While his two teammates may offer the greater explosive potential, the thing that sets Alexander-Arnold apart in the captain choices is his consistency.
An analysis of Alexander-Arnold's performance over the last 38 games. #FPL— Foomni Analytics (@foomnianalytics) February 7, 2020
The graphs tell us that he actually became a bit more efficient lately, as total number of crosses/key passes is down compared to start of this season, but the end-product remains about the same 🤔 pic.twitter.com/Wm6yuEHHby
Mo Salah (£12.8m) vs WHU (H)
Ok, even though Trent is our top pick, let’s not get silly and ignore the potential Salah has this weekend to secure massive points for his owners. As the likely top captain choice for Gameweek 27, FPL owners may feel they have to put the armband on the Egyptian just to prevent other owners from stealing a march on them. While a solid play, as illustrated just last gameweek, there can be rewards for those willing to steer away from the masses if he does in fact blank. That does seem unlikely, however, with a home match against West Ham on the horizon.
A goal and an assist against the Hammers just three gameweeks ago, Salah has an excellent record against the London club. Only once in five appearances has Liverpool’s premier marksman failed to find the net and he has never failed to score against West Ham for Liverpool at Anfield. In two previous home matches, Liverpool have put eight past West Ham with Salah accounting for two of them. Given his home goalscoring form this season, it seems likely he’ll add to this tally. Of is 14 league goals this season, 12 have come at home and Salah has only failed to score three times in Liverpool’s 13 home league matches.
Danny Ings (£7.1m) vs AVL (H)
Another gameweek saw another Danny Ings (£7.1m) goal on what was his 50th appearance for Saints in the league. Already comfortably his best goalscoring season in the Premier League, the finish against former club Burnley brought his total to 15 for the season. With 12 games to go, Ings will be eyeing his first 20-goal season since firing Burnley to promotion in the 2013-14 Championship season.
Ings (Sou) has the best fixtures as his next 4 opponent has conceded 12.67 Big Chances, 38 Shots-In Box, 60 Shot Attempets in their last 4 matches on average. As i am wildcarding this GW, i'm thinking to get Jimenez, Ings and DCL instead of Vardy for my forward line. (3/X)— FPL_Actuary (@FPL_Actuary) February 18, 2020
Gameweek 27 brings a home match against Aston Villa, a side that Ings scored twice against earlier in the season. Villa currently hold the unenviable record of the league's worst defence having shipped 50 goals already this season, at an average of almost two a match. The Villains are currently giving up an average of 17.8 shots per game to their opposition, so the chances will be there for Ings to continue his excellent 2019-20 goalscoring record.
Raul Jimenez (£7.7m) vs NOR (H)
With no goals or assists in his last two league matches, Raul Jimenez (£7.7m) is a game away from blanking in three consecutive starts for the first time since Gameweek 7. On paper, a home match against Norwich certainly looks like a fixture where Jimenez will be afforded plenty of chances to avoid that as the Mexican currently averages 3.3 shots per game, fourth best in the league, while Norwich are giving up 15.4 shots per match, the third worst record in the league.
It's a damn shame WOL are still involved in the soon-to-resume #EuropaLeague because their upcoming fixtures have them ranked 2nd only to LIV for ATT by my spreadsheets over the next 6, and top for DEF 🛡— FPL P⚽️ker Pl🅰️yer (@barCOLEYna) February 18, 2020
Jimenez/Traore/Doherty/Boly 👀 pic.twitter.com/dUVb0HcE98
Furthermore, despite not scoring against Leicester Jimenez did manage five shots, all from inside the box, and he had an xG of 0.71 illustrating that he probably should have found the net against the Foxes. The Mexican also ranks first for big chances over the last four gameweeks and simple reality is you can’t score them all. The fact that he is getting these chances is heartening, and given his quality in front of goal it will surely be just a matter of time before he gets his name back on the scoresheet.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m) vs EVE (H)
Back from his ban and back amongst the goals, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m) scored his first goal since Gameweek 22 in Sunday’s match against Newcastle. While Arsenal have been struggling this season, Newcastle’s four goal victory should see them enter this weekend’s match against Everton full of confidence. Regardless of his club’s form Aubameyang has remained a pillar of excellence with 15 goals this season. Seemingly un-droppable now that he’s been made club captain, his average of 5.7 points per appearance is behind only Aguero, Marcus Rashford (£8.9m) and Vardy.