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30 Apr 2019 by Colm Hayes

FPL Gameweek 37 – Captain Picks

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Manchester City and Liverpool assets continue to dominate the captaincy debate as the title race goes down to the wire. A trip to face Huddersfield promotes the prospects of Manchester United attackers, while Wolves players are worth considering as Fulham roll up to Molineux.

PREMIUM OPTIONS

Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) vs Leicester (H)

The Argentine striker’s home record this season edges him ahead of team-mate Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) in the armband debate. Aguero has yet to blank when named in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI for Etihad fixtures this season, a phenomenal record going into City’s final home game of the season.

The forward has returned an average of 8.8 points across his last six starts on home soil. That includes two 17-point hauls gained from hat-tricks in GW25 and GW26. Sterling’s average in the same parameters is a huge 10.3 but does include one blank (vs Spurs in GW35). For those who own both players and plan on giving one the armband, or even using the triple captain chip, it is undoubtedly a marginal call.

Leicester’s clean sheet at home to a ten-man Arsenal in GW36 was their second since Brendan Rodgers took over in Gameweek 29. The other shut-out was recorded at home to Bournemouth in GW32. The Foxes have not conceded more than two goals in a game under their new manager. Leicester have allowed their opponents 38 shots over the last four gameweeks, with 28 of those taken inside the box. Rodgers’ team gave up five big chances over those four fixtures.

City are in incredible form, with 12 wins and 27 goals scored from Gameweek 25. Guardiola’s men also have the added FPL bonus of not playing European football this week ahead of Leicester’s visit next Monday. That rest period could swing the captain pendulum in the direction of City assets, while Aguero’s home comforts may come to the fore once again.

Mohamed Salah (£13.3m) vs Newcastle (a)

It will not be as easy at St. James’ Park for Liverpool as it was at home to Huddersfield, but backing the title chasers for goals seems sensible. The Reds were last kept scoreless at Goodison Park in GW29. Since that 0-0 draw with Everton, Jurgen Klopp’s side have scored 20 times on a seven-match winning streak. Salah’s huge 19-point haul in GW36 sees him oust Sadio Mane (£10.2m) as the top Reds captain pick – though the Senegal star was just a post away from recording a hat-trick of headers last Friday.

Salah has returned attacking points in each of the past five gameweeks, scoring four goals and providing three assists. The midfielder had eight shots against a lame Huddersfield outfit – up from a previous home average of 4.75 – while he also made four key passes.

Newcastle have conceded just three goals in the last four gameweeks, keeping a clean sheet away to Leicester in GW34. The Magpies allowed their opponents 39 shots (27 inside the box) over that period, with six of those opportunities considered ‘big chances’. Rafa Benitez’s defence has been breached in each of their past three home games.

Owners of Salah and his Liverpool team-mates will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final first leg clash in Barcelona on Wednesday night. Once the Egyptian comes through that tie unscathed he is set to be heavily backed in the captaincy stakes, as rotation in the Reds’ ranks appears unlikely with the title race balanced on a knife-edge.

Paul Pogba (£8.5m) vs Huddersfield (a)

Despite failing to record a shot or a key pass at home to Chelsea in GW36, Pogba was heavily involved in a much-improved display from Man United over the first 45 minutes.

As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted post-match, the Red Devils were unable to recreate the same level of performance in the second period at Old Trafford. The United boss told Match of the Day: “The boys started fantastic, created chances, got in behind and got the lead. Then, in the second half, we never managed to get the quality and tempo back up again. It was a good game of football, both could have won it but probably a draw is fair result. They're probably happier than we are with the draw, it's one of those days and we must dust ourselves down and win the next two – you never know as points are being dropped left, right and centre.”

United’s top-four fate is out of their hands now but six points from the trip to Huddersfield and Cardiff’s visit in GW38 will at least give Solskjaer’s men a fighting chance. The Terriers’ prolific concession of goals in recent weeks is the main reason for Pogba’s inclusion in the GW37 captain picks. Gameweek 29 was the last time Jan Siewert’s men conceded less than two goals in a match, as they lost 1-0 at Brighton. Since then, the Terriers have shipped 23 times over seven fixtures. They have allowed 72 shots (48 inside the box) in the past four gameweeks, giving up 15 big chances in the process.

Ninety-minute man Pogba has been substituted just once since OGS took over, after 73 minutes against Fulham as United led 3-0. FPL bosses taking the risk of captaining the Frenchman can at least be assured of pitch time, while the midfielder also has penalty-taking duties in his locker. Pogba’s only attacking returns over United’s last eight league ties have come from spot-kicks, though Huddersfield’s miserable defence should offer United plenty of opportunities to score.

MID-PRICED CANDIDATE

Raul Jimenez (£6.9m) vs Fulham (H)

The Mexican striker ended a run of three consecutive blanks by firing home Wolves’ opener in a 2-1 win away to Watford last weekend. Jimenez missed his other big chance in that clash, while seeing a third shot inside the box blocked. The forward has averaged 6.8 points per match over his last six Molineux outings, a run which includes three blanks and three double-figure hauls.

Wolves’ GW37 visitors Fulham still have the league’s worst defensive record but are on a run of three consecutive clean sheets. The Cottagers allowed 52 shots (42 in the box) in their last four fixtures. Scott Parker’s men also gave up 11 big chances, with only Watford (2) managing to convert those opportunities against the relegated side.

Wolves’ victory over the Hornets put them into seventh place, three points ahead of Leicester. If Man City beat Watford in the FA Cup final, the team finishing seventh will earn a Europa League qualifying spot. On that possibility, Jimenez said: “It would be a very great achievement. At the beginning of the season all the people thought we'd fight to stay in the Premier League. Now we are making good things and one game away to stay in seventh, so that makes us confident for the next match and it would be amazing if we can go to the Europa League. There's a possibility if we stay in seventh, but (there is still) the final of the cup to play. This is a very good season for us, we're very happy. Maybe we need more players (next season), there might be some more matches. It's up to the coach to think about it and we'll see.”

With Wolves motivated to secure seventh, it could be worth backing their assets against Fulham. A fourth clean sheet in a row appears unlikely for the Cottagers, while Jimenez’s goal in GW36 bodes well for his owners ahead of Saturday’s fixture.

DIFFERENTIAL CHOICE

Romelu Lukaku (£10.7m) vs Huddersfield (a)

Such is the favourable nature of Man United’s fixture this week, our differential armband pick also comes from the Red Devils’ ranks. Lukaku’s inclusion is further bolstered by the early withdrawal of Marcus Rashford (£7.3m) in GW36 due to a lingering injury. On the England forward’s substitution, Solskjaer explained: “Rashy’s struggled with his shoulder and he came through an hour, but couldn’t do more.”

The United boss paired the strikers in a 4-4-2 diamond formation against Chelsea, so even if Rashford is passed fit there’s a decent chance Lukaku could start against the Terriers. If the Englishman is ruled out, the Belgian striker looks a good bet to make Solskjaer’s XI [pending injury rumours/manager's press conference].

Lukaku managed just one shot against his former club in GW36, a big chance inside the box which he failed to convert. He also put an excellent ball over the Chelsea defence to find Luke Shaw (£5.0m), whose pull back was tucked away by Juan Mata (£6.1m).

The £10.7m forward is without a goal since Gameweek 29, with blanks in each of his five starts since then. However, as with Pogba, the 4.1%-owned Lukaku is purely a fixture pick this week. Huddersfield’s aforementioned defensive statistics are dire, with the visit to the John Smith’s stadium a potential tonic for United’s ailing attack.

Note: Rumours are flying around of an injury for Lukaku, so keep an eye out for our team news and predicted line-ups article on Friday.

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