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13 Mar 2018 by Colm Hayes

FPL Gameweek 31 – Captain Picks

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Blank GW31 is upon us, and sane FPL managers will put the armband on Mo Salah. But for the crazy members of the community, we’ve served up four other assets that might be worth a punt.

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Mohamed Salah (£10.6m)

A rare blank from the Egyptian in GW30 will not stop the masses captaining Salah this gameweek, and rightly so. The Liverpool star comes up against a Watford defence that were torn apart by Arsenal on Sunday. The Hornets have kept just two away clean sheets since GW13.

Jurgen Klopp has no need to rotate key players, as Liverpool have just two matches left to play this month. It will be a brave, small percentage of managers who decline to armband Salah in GW31. Luckily for those hardy souls, we have some alternative (read: risky) picks.

Sadio Mane (£9.4m)

The Senegalese has outscored Salah by 24 points to 20 over the last three gameweeks. However, Mane’s GW30 assist came via a ludicrous Eric Bailly own goal, while his teammate plundered 28 points between GW26 and GW27.

Mane is finally showing some consistency, with consecutive goals in GW28 and GW29. The midfielder also netted a hat-trick away to Porto last month, after which Klopp praised the attacker’s return to form.

There’s no question that handing Mane the armband over Salah is a gamble but both Liverpool forwards, along with Roberto Firmino (£9.4m), will fancy their chances against the Hornets.

Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.3m)

The Stoke midfielder, owned by nearly 14%, has played 90 minutes in each of the last eight gameweeks; encouraging for a fantasy asset who has a habit of picking up injuries.

Two blanks have followed a run of three consecutive goals for Shaqiri, though Monday night’s clash against Man City was never likely to be profitable. A BGW31 fixture against an Everton side with an abysmal away record should be much more fruitful.

The Swiss should be able to find holes in the Toffees defence, even though Sam Allardyce can now call upon first choice full-backs Seamus Coleman (£6.4m) and Leighton Baines (£5.6m). Everton have conceded 12 goals in their last six on the road.

Differential Choices

Junior Stanislas (£5.9m)

Owned by just over 1% of managers, the Bournemouth midfielder is the ultimate differential this week. A sorry West Brom outfit are there for the taking, having shipped four goals to Leicester in GW30.

Despite sitting in 12th, Eddie Howe’s team are just six points above the bottom three in a congested bottom half of the Premier League table. The Cherries must take all three points against the Baggies in a gameweek where several relegation candidates don’t play.

Stats over last four matches (Image via @FFScout_Jonty/fantasyfootballscout.co.uk)

In the last four gameweeks, Stanislas has managed a goal attempt in the box every 46 minutes while being presented with two big chances. The 28-year-old did miss one of those against Spurs in GW30 but took his opportunity at the second time of asking.

That goal, Stanislas’ third in six starts, may spark a Junior bandwagon for the blank gameweek. However, Bournemouth’s following two fixtures against Watford and Crystal Palace could also see the winger return points providing he remains fit.

Steve Mounie (£5.8m)

The Benin international looks to have moved ahead of Laurent Depoitre in the Huddersfield pecking order. Mounie has started each of the last four gameweeks, scoring two goals and providing two assists.

The striker failed to net against 10-man Swansea in GW30 but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Terriers frontman fired off eight efforts, three which forced Lukasz Fabianski into saves.

Despite improved performances recently, Palace are winless since GW23. Roy Hodgson’s side have shipped 11 goals in their previous six league outings, including five over the last two gameweeks.

However, Mamadou Sakho (£4.6m) returned to the Eagles’ bench for the loss against Chelsea on Saturday evening and could bolster Palace’s backline in GW31. Hodgson’s press conference is one to keep an eye on ahead of Saturday’s 2.00pm deadline.