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19 Feb 2019 by Colm Hayes

FPL Blank Gameweek 27 – Captain Picks

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will have to come through a Europa League test ahead of Southampton’s visit to the Emirates, while Heung-Min Son is aiming to keep up a 100% scoring record since his return from international duty. Mohamed Salah will look to improve his statistics against the top six, as Felipe Anderson and Salomon Rondon’s fixtures mean this week’s captaincy debate contains a double dose of differentials.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m) vs Southampton (H)

The Arsenal striker’s BGW27 audition has not gone to plan, with a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in GW25 followed by a no-show in GW26. Aubameyang is now over the illness that ruled him out of the Huddersfield trip, having played 25 minutes in Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat away to BATE last Thursday. Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) was sent off in that clash, meaning Auba is a more-or-less guaranteed starter in the UEL this week. With Gameweek 28 a midweek affair, the Gunners have a hectic schedule of four matches in the space of ten days.

Arsenal’s GW27 opponents Southampton are without a clean sheet in the last five gameweeks, though the 2-1 defeat at home to Cardiff in GW26 was the first time the Saints have conceded more than one goal over that period. The south-coast side have managed just one shut-out since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over as manager in GW16.

13 of Aubameyang’s 15 goals this season have been scored against non-top-six sides, while his points-per-match at home to ‘lesser’ opposition this season stands at 7.11. He has scored at least five points in each of Arsenal’s last four home games against lower-table teams, twice notching maximum bonus points. The Gabon forward also has penalty-taking duties to add to his appeal.

FPL bosses on the wrong side of the Aubameyang/Sergio Aguero (£11.5m) hokey-cokey will be hoping this is the weekend when their faith is repayed. Once the Arsenal forward comes through his Europa League duties unscathed, he is a very strong contender for the blank Gameweek 27 armband.

Mohamed Salah (£13.6m) vs Manchester United (a)

FPL’s top scorer bounced back from consecutive blanks with an eight-point score in GW26. Despite clocking up seven shots (three on target, three inside the box, one blocked) at home to Bournemouth, Salah netted just one goal. The attacker hit the woodwork as Liverpool ran the Cherries’ defence ragged, while also fluffing one glorious opportunity.

Not in the Egyptian’s favour is his record away to top-six sides this season – Salah has yet to post an attacking return in four road trips to the ‘big’ clubs. Indeed, a 12-point haul at home to Arsenal in GW20 was the only time the Liverpool star scored or assisted against one of the top six this campaign.

However, a trip to Old Trafford may not be as daunting as it seems. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men do boast three shut-outs in the last five gameweeks, though all of those came on the road. United conceded in home games against Brighton and Burnley, while they were fortunate to leave Wembley with a clean sheet in GW22 – the Red Devils allowed Spurs 21 shots (12 inside the box) and two big chances in that fixture. Fulham managed 15 goal attempts (eight inside the box) against United in GW26, with the home side spurning three big chances.

Like Aubameyang, Salah has a big European tie to navigate as Liverpool welcome Bayern Munich to Anfield tonight. Those planning to captain the 50.4%-owned midfielder will need to monitor that fixture before setting their squads ahead of Friday’s 6.45pm deadline.

Heung-Min Son (£8.9m) vs Burnley (a)

The South Korean left it late to bag a third goal in three gameweeks, racing through Leicester’s half to finish in the 91st minute as Spurs won 3-1 at home in GW26.

A goal in the north London side’s 3-0 win at home to Borussia Dortmund last Wednesday means Son has now scored in all four Tottenham appearances since returning from Asian Cup duty.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men take on a Burnley side that have improved defensively since the GW20 introduction of Tom Heaton (£4.8m) to Sean Dyche’s starting XI. The Clarets are conceding 13.57 shots on average with Heaton between the sticks, down from 19.58 when Joe Hart (£4.3m) was the No 1. However, the only top-six team Burnley have played since that line-up alteration was Man Utd. Dyche’s men allowed the Red Devils 28 efforts on goal (15 inside the box) during a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in GW24.

Son’s last blank when named in Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI came in Gameweek 8. In 12 starts since GW13, the attacker has scored 11 goals and provided six assists. That consistency should mark him out as a captaincy choice most gameweeks and with a reduced slate of fixtures this weekend, the Spurs attacker is definitely worthy of armband consideration.

MID-PRICED CANDIDATE

Felipe Anderson (£7.2m) vs Fulham (H)

The West Ham midfielder has flattered to deceive since a 15-point haul back in GW19. Anderson’s only attacking return since then was an assist in GW25 as the Hammers drew 1-1 at home to Liverpool.

But the Brazilian’s explosive potential is clear, with five double-figure scores to his name this season. Four of those have come against non-top-six sides. Fulham visit the London Stadium on Friday having conceded nine times in the past four gameweeks.

The Cottagers have now shipped 58 goals this campaign, allowing opponents an average of 15 shots per game. Fulham’s total of two clean sheets has been amassed under Claudio Ranieri, though the Italian’s team have conceded 15 times since a GW20 shut-out at home to Huddersfield and are particularly susceptible to attacks down their right flank.

Left-winger Anderson’s own shot count has been low in the last four gameweeks, with the midfielder firing just three efforts over that period. But he has supplied seven key passes since GW23 over a poor run of form for West Ham [L, L, D, D].

Seeking a first league win since GW22, the Hammers could not ask for a more obliging opponent than fellow London side Fulham. Anderson has the added bonus of definite fixtures in both post-GW27 blank gameweeks.

With Marko Arnautovic (£6.8m) not fully re-integrated at the London Stadium following his January transfer saga, the Brazilian is Manuel Pellegrini’s chief attacking threat at present. While there’s no doubt armbanding the attacker would be a risk, Anderson could be a lucrative punt for those seeking to take a captaincy risk in BGW27.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Salomon Rondon (£5.7m) vs Huddersfield (H)

If the 15.1%-owned Anderson is not enough of a differential, Newcastle’s 4.4%-selected striker Rondon should do the trick. The Venezuelan comes up against a Terriers outfit with no clean sheets in three games under new boss Jan Siewert.

Huddersfield have conceded eight times (including five away to Chelsea) over that period. Siewert’s side allowed their opponents 42 shots (31 inside the box) and eight big chances in those three fixtures.

Rondon has recorded two consecutive away blanks but scored against Man City at St James’s Park in GW24 and provided an assist at home to Cardiff in GW23. The striker has fired off ten shots (three on target) over the past four gameweeks, while supplying six key passes. He also scored in Newcastle’s 1-1 friendly draw against CSKA Moscow last Saturday.

New Magpies man Miguel Almiron (£6.0m) should add some much-needed creativity to Rafa Benitez’s attack if he gets the nod for the visit of 20th-placed Huddersfield. The Paraguayan could boost Rondon’s output, while the visit of the league’s bottom side is as good a reason as any for the striker to claim his place as BGW27’s differential captaincy pick.

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