FPL Gameweek 29 – Captain Picks

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Well, that was an unmitigated disaster!! The lowest-scoring gameweek of the season unsurprisingly coincided with the worst captain pics article of the season. No Man City or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) meant the FPL community doubled (or quadrupled in the case of this author) down on Liverpool assets for GW28. Of all the potential outcomes from their match against Watford, a 3-0 hammering and a top score of 2 FPL points per player was not expected. Still, at least Sadio Mane (£12.4m), Mo Salah (£12.8m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) and Roberto Firmino (£9.7m) made it onto the pitch. Fifth captain choice Jamie Vardy (£9.8m) didn’t even make the bench for Leicester. All in all, a resounding success!

Elsewhere, GW28 saw Man City win their third Carabao Cup in a row, and fourth in the last five years. It’s quite a remarkable record, in that the side have only been eliminated once from the competition in its last five iterations. Points for who can name the last side to knock them out. City’s day out at Wembley saw their league fixture against Arsenal postponed and rearranged for GW29, which means we have our second double gameweek of the season on the horizon - how exciting!

With Arsenal and Man City pulling double duty, FPL managers will no doubt flock towards transferring these players into their line-ups. Buyers beware though, while Arsenal are less likely to rotate, Man City have an important match against Real Madrid coming up in the near future. While the propensity for rotation at City is always high this season, stocking up on Man City players with the promise of them playing twice seems like a bit of a trap. Still, it'll make a brave manager to not jump on the City bandwagon, and with that indecision lighting the way, let's discuss the top captain choices for Gameweek 29 ahead of Saturday’s 11:30am deadline.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m) vs MUN (a) / ARS (H)

Top points scorer and the top-owned FPL player Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m) will be a popular captain selection for Gameweek 29. Rested for the League Cup final at the weekend, De Bruyne is the one outfield player who FPL managers will be most confident about starting both fixtures for Man City in their double gameweek. City's standout player for the campaign pretty much guarantees points over a two-match period having only blanked two gameweeks in a row twice all season. He also loves a match against Arsenal, as evidenced by his two goal, one assist, 19-point haul against them earlier in the season.

Mo Salah (£12.8m) vs BOU (H)

A match back at Anfield in GW29 should mean a return to home comforts for the side. Despite losing at the weekend, Liverpool still haven’t lost a league match in front of their own fans since before Philippe Coutinho left the club. The Brazilian actually scored in their 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace back on 23rd April 2017. Looking to get straight back to winning ways, the club face Bournemouth on the Saturday early kick-off.

A match against Bournemouth normally means goals, clean sheets and victories for the Anfield club. The last five league matches between the two sides have seen Liverpool win all five with an aggregate score of 17-0. During this time period, the Reds have put a minimum of three goals past Bournemouth in each of the matches. Unsurprisingly, like Liverpool, Salah has feasted on the Cherries since his arrival on Merseyside. In fact, he has never failed to score when playing against Bournemouth, finding the net a combined total of seven times in those five fixtures – though Liverpool's and Salah's record was similar against Watford before last weekend’s humbling.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) vs WHU (H) / MCI (a)

With three goals since his return from suspension and six goals in his last seven appearances, Aubameyang is one of the form strikers in the division. Afforded the night off on Monday following Europa League heartbreak, the Gabonian is expected to slot straight back into the starting XI on Saturday when Arsenal host West Ham. Despite the 3-1 victory at the weekend, the Hammers find themselves deep in the relegation battle, a situation mainly down to their inability to keep clean sheets. The club have now gone seven league matches since their last shutout, conceding 17 goals in that time period.

West Ham’s inability to keep the opposition out is something Aubameyang knows all about given his goal and assist when the two sides met earlier on in the season. In recent years the Gunner have put West Ham to the sword in front of their own fans, scoring three, four and three times in their last three home league matches. While Arsenal's and Aubameyang's record is not nearly as impressive against Man City, like West Ham the Manchester club have struggled to keep the opposition out when playing in front of their own fans. Just three clean sheets in their last 10 home league matches would seem to indicate Aubameyang will be afforded chances.

Finally the advantage of placing the armband on Aubameyang can be measured the fact he is almost certain to start both matches. While rotation is always at the forefront of FPL managers eyes when it comes to a City selection, as Aubameyang is Arsenal's captain, it is highly unlikely he will be rested or rotated out of the starting XI for either of these two matches. He was just given a rest for the FA Cup 5th round match against Portsmouth after all.

Jamie Vardy (£9.8m) vs AVL (H)

After Vardy’s no-show on Friday night, Brendan Rodgers has reassuringly stated that his premier marksman will be fit for their Monday night match at home to Aston Villa. When asked about the striker's availability for their midweek FA Cup match with Birmingham, Rodgers said, “He won’t be available. He’s making good progress but our target will be Aston Villa (in the league) on Monday and he should be fine for that.” Without Vardy, Leicester were toothless in attack as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Norwich. Even without a goal in his last nine appearances (in all competitions), the Englishman still represents Leicester’s best attacking option.

Vardy will be afforded plenty of chances against an Aston Villa side that could potentially be suffering from a Carabao Cup hangover after their defeat to Man City at the weekend. No one has conceded more shots to their opposition than Villa this season, who average 18.2 shots against them per match. In the reverse fixture earlier this season, Vardy bagged a brace as Leicester ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.

Raul Jimenez (£12.8m) vs BHA (H)

One man who didn’t fail to secure attacking returns last week was Wolves’ Raul Jimenez (£8.0m). While lacking the explosive potential of some of the more popular captain picks (just three double-digit hauls all season), what Jimenez does offer is consistency of point-scoring. Another goal against Spurs brought his tally up to 13 for the season. Five goals in his last six league matches speak of a man who is on a good run of form as Wolves look to challenge for the Champions League spots. GW29 sees Jimenez and Wolves take on Brighton this weekend, who themselves are on a poor run of form. Yet to win in the league since the turn of the year, the Seagulls have gone nine Premier League games since they last kept a clean sheet.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) vs EVE (H)

Out of the team at the start of the season, it appears that Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) has finally secured his place back in the Chelsea starting line-up. A favourite from years gone by, Alonso has been a points machine whenever he has managed to find his way onto the pitch this season. 10 appearances have yielded four goals, three assists and 71 points. That equates to an average of 7.10 points per appearance for Chelsea’s left-back. To put that into perspective, Alexander-Arnold is currently averaging 5.86 points per appearance.

Owned by just 2.9% of FPL managers, Alonso could be quite the differential down the stretch. Other than the likely rearranged Man City match in GW31, three of Chelsea’s next five fixtures are against side that currently occupy the bottom five of the Premier League. This week, Chelsea and Alonso face Everton at Stamford Bridge, a team Chelsea have had success against in recent seasons. The Toffees haven’t scored at Stamford Bridge in the league since the 2015-16 season.

Nicolas Pepe (£9.2m) vs WHU (H) / MCI (a)

Owned by just 3.9% of FPL managers this season and with a double gameweek on the horizon, Nicolas Pepe (£9.2m) has differential captain choice written all over him. Finally getting a run of starts in the first team, Pepe has started to show glimpses of the form that encouraged Arsenal to part with £72m to acquire his services over the summer. Lest we forget, this is a man who scored 35 goals in 74 league appearances for Lille. Interestingly, Arsenal played West Ham and Man City in back-to-back gameweeks earlier in the season (GW16 and GW17). Pepe started both of those games scoring one goal, one assist and 14 FPL points over the two fixtures. Not a bad return indeed if he can match that outlay this time around. He goes into these fixtures in much better form also, having scored once and assisted three times in Arsenal's previous two matches.

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