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27 Nov 2018 by Colm Hayes

FPL Gameweek 14 – Captain Picks

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FPL bosses will be hoping for home runs from their heavy-hitters this weekend as the fixtures point to assets from Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. With Gameweek 15 kicking off on Tuesday, the armband decision could come down to a matter of minutes.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) vs Bournemouth (H)

The midfielder blasted his way to the top of the FPL scoring charts (95) with a 16-point display away to West Ham in GW13. A goal, two assists, two bonus points and a clean sheet was great reward for those who backed Sterling with the armband.

The attacker scored with his only shot of the game, though the manner of the goal – Sterling ghosted in at the back post to tap home a Leroy Sane (£9.3m) cross – means a lack of attempts is not a worry.

Over 156,000 managers have bought Sterling since Saturday’s haul, with fellow captain pick Eden Hazard a popular transfer out this week.

There is always the threat of rotation with Sane and Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m) as competition, though the England winger has played over 300 minutes more than his two team-mates so far. With City averaging just north of three goals a game, scoring 27 of 40 total in seven home fixtures, Sterling and co are screaming out for armband attention in Gameweek 14.

Sergio Aguero (£11.5m), owned by 53.6% of bosses, is another standout option in the Etihad ranks. The striker has returned in every home game this season, netting seven of eight goals and registering all six of his assists at the Etihad.

Aguero was not at his best in GW13, firing his only goal attempt high over the crossbar, but it is hard to ignore that home form against a Bournemouth side who have conceded twice in each of the last three gameweeks. The Cherries, allowing opponents an average of 14 shots per game, have let in nine goals (of 18 total) on their travels.

Sterling has now outscored Aguero by 45 points to 24 over the past four gameweeks. The captain pick could come down to Pep Guardiola’s team selection away to Lyon tonight. The Argentine has not featured in City’s previous two European ties, while Sterling completed both games.

However, Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) has not travelled to France so Aguero looks set to feature. With the Citizens playing away at Watford next Tuesday in GW15 as the fixtures pile up, attempting to predict Guardiola’s XIs is even more difficult than usual. With European and domestic cup action, the league champions play a game every three to four days from now until January 3.

Eden Hazard (£11.1m) vs Fulham (H)

The Belgian has registered just one assist, from a free kick, in his last four gameweek appearances. He picked up an ankle injury in GW13 as Tottenham blew Chelsea away at Wembley. Despite a lacklustre showing, Hazard should have been awarded a penalty after Juan Foyth (£5.0m) felled the attacker in the area.

On the injury, Hazard said: “My injury I think is not something bad. I think I just twisted my ankle, but it's like every game, it's the same. I am used to it and I will be back soon.”

Five of the Belgian’s seven goals have been scored at Stamford Bridge, while two of his four assists were registered at home. Gameweek 14 visitors Fulham conceded twice at home to Southampton in Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge. Under Slavisa Jokanovic, Fulham were allowing opponents just over 16 shots per game on average. The Saints had 19 attempts on goal at Craven Cottage in GW13, 10 of which came inside the area.

Those numbers suggest that, unless Ranieri works a quick miracle with what is still the league’s leakiest defence, Hazard should have a good chance of ensuring he doesn’t post a third consecutive blank. The midfielder’s attacking stats are slightly concerning, though his minutes between GW4 and GW8 (443) outweigh those over GW9, 11, 12 and 13 (296). The midfielder missed GW10 through injury.

Hazard’s poor run has coincided with Alvaro Morata (£8.7m) taking the place of Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) at the head of Chelsea’s attack. The Frenchman came on to grab the Blues’ consolation against Spurs. Hazard owners will be hoping to see the Spaniard start at home to PAOK Salonika on Thursday night, which would make Giroud likelier to begin at the weekend.

That Europa League tie should allow Maurizio Sarri to rest Hazard, while an update on the Belgium star’s fitness is likely to arrive before the weekend. If doubtful or ruled out, the sales (133,000 transfers out this week) will only get heavier. If passed fit, the Chelsea talisman is a genuine armband contender.

Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) vs Everton (H)

The only home fixture that Salah failed to post attacking points in was the GW8 visit of Man City. Five of the attacker’s seven goals and two of four assists have come at Anfield.

Salah will also be in France this week as the Reds take on Paris Saint-Germain in a crunch Group C clash on Wednesday, but GW14’s Merseyside derby appears an unlikely fixture for Jurgen Klopp to rest key players.

The Toffees have tightened up at the back in recent gameweeks, conceding just three times in the last four with two clean sheets in their previous two games. Only City, Liverpool and Chelsea are giving up less attempts on average than Everton (10.2) so far this season. Marco Silva’s men kept Sarri’s outfit scoreless in an astute GW12 performance at Stamford Bridge.

The consistency offered by Salah, however, means the Egyptian must be under consideration for the GW14 armband. He has netted four times in the last five gameweeks, while two of those four assists came in GW10 at home to Cardiff. With Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) dropping into a No 10 more often for the Reds, Salah can even be considered an out-of-position candidate at times.

Derbies tend to be harder games to call but Everton’s defensive resolve is certain to be tested by Salah, Firmino, Sadio Mane (£9.9m) – who is fit for the PSG trip after illness – and Xherdan Shaqiri (£7.0m) at Anfield on Sunday.

Marko Arnautovic (£7.1m) vs Newcastle (a)

Much like the lead up to GW13, yellow flags are dotted among some of this weekend’s top captain contenders. Arnautovic limped off late on at the London Stadium last weekend as West Ham were hammered by Man City.

While the Austrian’s 20.8% ownership will be eagerly waiting for an official update, early reports suggest the issue may not be too serious. Arnie managed to fire off three goal attempts (two blocked, one off target) against City, with two of those inside the box.

The Irons travel to take on a Newcastle side in good form; the Magpies are unbeaten in four, notching three successive wins with Monday night’s 2-1 victory away to Burnley. The Clarets totalled 14 shots against Rafa Benitez’s side, with nine of those efforts taken inside the box.

Arnautovic could reap the benefits of taking on a Newcastle outfit conceding just over 15 goal attempts per game. Of the 16 goals the Magpies have let in, 10 have been at St James’ Park. Arnie, who has scored two of his five goals on the road, is shooting once every 26 minutes. If deemed ready to play, the forward is an outside bet for the GW14 captaincy.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Leroy Sane (£9.3m) vs Bournemouth (H)

We endeavour to pick four premium captaincy options and a deadly differential from five different clubs each week. However, fixtures and form sometimes necessitate that a less than 10%-owned player from one of the same four clubs is selected.

Man City and the 5.8%-owned Sane are the perfect example of this. A home match-up with the aforementioned Bournemouth looks unlikely to slow down Guardiola’s attacking juggernaut.

The German winger was an integral part of that attack in GW13, scoring twice and assisting Sterling in a 19-point performance.

With Benjamin Mendy (£6.3m) out for up to three months, Sane could benefit by offering Guardiola that natural width on the left of the pitch. The attacker’s most sustained run of starts (3) came between GW5 and GW7, when Mendy was also in the treatment room.

Champions League minutes are a running theme in the armband discussion this week and Sane’s pitch time against Lyon will also need to be considered, while the threat of rotation amid the upcoming glut of games is clear.

The midfielder has yet to blank in any of his six league starts so far this season, returning a huge average of just over ten points per game in those matches. Like Sterling, Sane has risen in price already this week.

That differential tag is unlikely to last long, particularly if the German can nail down a run of starts. With Simon Francis (£4.4m) operating at right-back for the Cherries at present, Sane has the potential to heavily reward those brave enough to hand him the armband.

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