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03 Dec 2018 by Colm Hayes

FPL Gameweek 15 – Captain Picks

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FPL’s most expensive forward looks set to be Gameweek 15’s most selected captain, while the game’s priciest player may benefit from being hooked early in GW14. Pitch time is the driving force behind this week’s Manchester City pick, while a favourable home fixture promotes the prospects of a mid-priced striker ahead of tomorrow's 6.45pm deadline.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Harry Kane (£12.4m) vs Southampton (H)

The striker’s penalty on Sunday brought his returns for the last four gameweeks to six points per match. Apart from a free kick, Kane’s only other shot in Spurs’ 4-2 defeat to Arsenal was an off-target effort from outside the box.

However, the Tottenham frontman has amassed 12 efforts on target in bagging those 24 points as his early season shot-shyness looks to have evaporated. Kane sits joint-third for attempts so far this season (48), level with Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.6m) and just behind Mohamed Salah (51) with Sergio Aguero (£11.4m) leading the charts on 55.

While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) is currently showing that shot volume is not the be all and end all, Kane owners will be encouraged by the forward’s form ahead of a captainable run of fixtures. The return of Dele Alli (£8.9m), Christian Eriksen (£9.2m) and Heung-min Son (£8.3m) to the Spurs starting XI is another positive for the England striker.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men will take on a Southampton side under the caretaker management of Kelvin Davis after Mark Hughes was sacked today. The Saints have conceded six times in the past three gameweeks and shipped that number to Manchester City in GW11.

Having moved to three at the back on Saturday, Southampton allowed Manchester United 11 attempts on goal. Seven of those were from inside the box. Under Hughes, the south-coast side let opponents shoot 13 times a game on average.

The effect of the Welshman’s departure is an unquantifiable factor in FPL terms but Kane definitely has both form and fixture on his side this gameweek. The forward, who rose in price on Sunday night, is on course to be the most-captained player for this midweek set of fixtures.

Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) vs Burnley (a)

One off-target shot in a 75-minute display against Everton was not encouraging for Salah’s 35.5% ownership. However, the midfielder did create two big chances as Sadio Mane (£9.9m) and Xherdan Shaqiri (£7.0m) failed to convert after being put through by the Egyptian.

The second most-popular GW14 captain pick, Salah’s early withdrawal further clouded the case for holding FPL’s most expensive player. The potential silver lining is that the Reds attacker may be fresher than some team-mates for Wednesday’s trip to Burnley. Mane is set to assessed after sustaining a cut on his foot during the 1-0 Merseyside derby win.

Jurgen Klopp said of the Senegalese forward: “He is sitting in the dressing room and has a cut on his foot, so 20 minutes before the end of the game, I don’t know how it happened [but it’s a] very painful thing and he stayed in. He didn’t tell me but otherwise maybe we would have changed differently, probably not. We will see how we line up in the next [games]. We only have to think about Burnley, not Bournemouth or Naples or United or Wolves.”

While Klopp praised Mane as the outstanding performer of Liverpool’s attacking trident – Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) was also substituted – Salah being taken off could end up paying dividends at Turf Moor. The Clarets continue to leak goal attempts, averaging 21.4 shots conceded over 14 games. A 2-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace in GW14 saw Sean Dyche’s outfit allow the Eagles 29 efforts on goal. A massive 17 of those were taken inside the Burnley penalty area.

James Tarkowski (£4.7m) could return to Dyche’s starting XI after making the bench at Selhurst Park but the England cap has played the majority of games for the league’s second-worst defence. Whether leading the Liverpool line or stationed on the right wing, Salah should get the opportunity to increase his seven-goal tally in GW15.

MID-PRICE CANDIDATES

David Silva (£8.7m) vs Watford (a)

Rotated to the bench in GW14, the Spanish midfielder is our pick of the City captaincy candidates this gameweek. Raheem Sterling (£11.5m), who broke through the 100-point barrier with a goal against Bournemouth, is undoubtedly a great selection but Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) will be pushing for a start. Leroy Sane (£9.4m) is a further armband option, while Pep Guardiola’s press conference comments leave too much doubt over pitch time for Sergio Aguero (£11.4m). Asked about the striker’s fitness, the City boss said on Monday afternoon: “I don’t know. We have training this afternoon so I can’t tell you the answer now.”

Silva has the form to back up his selection, having posted attacking returns in four of his last five starts. ‘El Mago’ scored in three consecutive fixtures from GW11 to GW13, while picking up his only two assists of the season in GW9. The Spaniard is joint-top of the league for key passes per game (2.8) and has an expected assists (xA) figure of 5.34. Silva’s xG tally (4.34) is almost in line with his five goals scored. The midfielder is delivering on a clear goal threat, while the assists are likely to begin stacking up.

Before his benching for City’s 3-1 win against the Cherries, Silva’s last rest came in GW6. With Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m) still working his way back to fitness – Guardiola said today that the Belgian is “not ready” – Silva should be safe from ‘Pep roulette’ for the time being.

City – still averaging over three goals a game – travel to take on a Watford side without a clean sheet since GW10. The Hornets have let in 11 of 19 goals at Vicarage Road. Seven of those 19 were conceded in the last four gameweeks. While Silva will have stung a few vice-captainers in GW14, the probable minutes for City’s creative force tomorrow night promote his GW15 prospects.

Marko Arnautovic (£7.1m) vs Cardiff (H)

The Austrian assisted striker partner Chicharito (£7.1m) before going off on 70 minutes as West Ham beat Newcastle 3-0 in GW14. Similar to Salah, Arnautovic’s substitution has the potential to work in his favour as Cardiff roll up to the London Stadium tomorrow.

The forward was passed fit last week after limping off in GW13, so reduced minutes at St James’ Park were perhaps no surprise as Manuel Pellegrini attempts to keep the Hammers’ talisman fresh. Aaron Cresswell (£5.1m) was the only player namechecked by the manager when he was asked about injuries at his press conference today.

Arnautovic failed to register an effort on goal against the Magpies but did create two further big chances. Cardiff have tightened up on the goal-concession front in recent gameweeks, shipping just once in each of their past four league outings. However, Neil Warnock’s defensive unit are allowing opponents over 13 shots a game on average.

A thin Bluebirds squad could be stretched to the limit this week, with Warnock admitting at his presser: “We’re struggling a bit injury-wise. Another couple of lads had knocks. I was going to change it and rest players, but I don’t think I can now. I’ll have to ask the lads to perform three times in a week.”

Without a goal since GW11, Arnie has the fixture to add to his current five-goal tally and could reward those maverick managers who are looking outside the box for a captain pick.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4m) vs Newcastle (H)

The Iceland international comes up against a Newcastle team that gave up seven big chances to West Ham on Saturday. Owned by 8.1%, Sigurdsson has racked up 21 points in the last four gameweeks. Four of the midfielder’s six goals have been scored at Goodison Park.

While the Magpies have conceded just six of 19 total goals on their travels, their GW14 performance is enough to suggest Everton will be afforded opportunities on Wednesday.

Sigurdsson did not create either of the Toffees’ big chances at Anfield on Sunday, but put Theo Walcott (£6.3m) through with a brilliant pass and was not far off converting after Andre Gomes (£5.4m) failed to score from close range.

With a great fixture run on the horizon for Everton from GW19, Sigurdsson – now just £0.4m more expensive than Richarlison (£7.0m) – is unlikely to last in differential territory too much longer but offers a good captaincy punt this week.

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