Fantasy Football Captain Picks Gameweek 27 2017/18
Welcome to Fantasy Football Captain Picks Gameweek 27. I have two comments to make on Gameweek 26: thank God I captained Salah, and if any of you scored less than one point across your entire backline, please come forward. I will leave it at that.
As a late (at least) second-choice call-up to write this article, it promises mediocrity. I say late, I have had plenty of time to write this up; I even got an extension. The mediocrity is not for want of trying though: Salah is so consistent and Manchester City’s fixtures seem to be constantly so good, that any other player I thrust above the parapet will inevitably be shot down by a wave of eagle-eyed FPL experts. How frightening.
After my first article, ‘Gameweek 25 Fixtures’, I was lambasted for only looking at fixtures, this article looks at exactly what you are looking for from the off: captaincy picks, and captaincy picks only. Well, after I dissuade you from a few choices first. Won’t name names but rest assured all (Silvers) that this handful of selections looks at both fixtures and form.
Players to avoid
Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez – away vs Newcastle
Manchester United have managed to score ten in five away games against the bottom nine, and Newcastle have not won at home since October. Romelu Lukaku has also grabbed two goals and an assist in his last four games. Before your head starts to hurt whilst reading this over a bowl full of cereal, or a liquid lunch in Cookie’s case, yes I am trying to tell you to avoid Manchester United players. The problem with Lukaku is that he has not had the ‘wow’ factor for a captaincy choice this season, only being directly involved in more than one goal (so a goal or an assist) on two occasions. The last of those came back in Gameweek 5 against West Ham and he has only accrued four bonus points since. Contrast this to Jamie Vardy, who has not scored or assisted more than once all season bar Gameweek 1, yet he has brought home double the bonus points. Further, of his 12 goals and five assists this season, which is verging on impressive, only four goals and one assist have been clocked up away from Old Trafford.
Sanchez has only scored or assisted more than once in just two matches all season too, although his switch from Arsenal might be the revitalisation he needed. His 24 goals and 11 assists from last season are a glimpse into what he can do when the cogs are whirring, yet he is still one to monitor, for me.
Perhaps deceptively, Newcastle’s home form boasts relatively strong defensive statistics; they have only conceded two against the top three (Liverpool and Manchester City) and only four in their last five (Everton, Manchester City, Brighton, Swansea and Burnley) at SJP.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrik Mkhitaryan – away vs Spurs
You have to go back to 2012 to find a North London Derby where either team scored more than two goals (Arsenal beat Spurs 5-2 twice in that year). It should be noted though that Wembley has not been met with ‘away-fear’ by Arsenal of late. They have won their last seven games there (including extra-time winners) and put two past both Manchester City and Chelsea on their most recent visits. However, given that their next two fixtures are Spurs and City, I will not be bringing them in based on ArsenalFanTV’s recommendation, and I am also not sure that they are captaincy material for this weekend. In their last eight away games, over half of which were against teams in the bottom half, they only scored more than one on one occasion (against Crystal Palace (3)). Spurs have also only conceded nine at home all season, the only multiple chinks in their armour being two against both Chelsea back in August and Southampton in December.
But Arsenal are back. The modern-era Invincibles. Their attack is a new outfit, and for once it looks exciting. The 5-1 demolition of Everton is merely the beginning…
Christ, I feel like I am writing this in front of Robbie’s emotionless face with an ArsenalFanTV microphone dangling over the keyboard. Whether it was a case of Everton playing badly or Arsenal playing superbly remains to be seen, but Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang look the real deal together. Troopz from ArsenalFanTV has done a complete U-turn on Aaron Ramsey and has also decided that Mesut Ozil wants to play for Arsenal again (‘he’s running, blud’) based on 90 minutes of football. But it takes just a cursory look at that YouTube channel to see how quickly praise can turn into hate; from ‘Aubameyang is a killer’ (a strange compliment by all accounts) to ‘he doesn’t care about Arsenal, fam’. ‘HANDLE WITH CAUTION’ is taped across the Arsenal box for me, for the time being. Arsenal face seven gameweeks of relative ease after their next two, so be patient.
Harry Kane – home vs Arsenal
A headline in the Daily Star on Monday: ‘Harry Kane wants to make Arsenal pay for releasing him as a child’. It reads as though Kane is embroiled in some petty schoolyard spat where the bell rings and he suddenly becomes a believer in voodoo. Perhaps he is going to make them pay by re-performing the ‘dive’ he had clearly mastered for the trip to Anfield at the weekend. Virgil van Dijk accused him of diving, and Kane retorted by saying he didn’t. Wow. I am amazed some journalists managed to write lengthy articles on the riveting subject. Then again, I’m not.
It might seem odd to see a Spurs player feature in the captaincy picks given the foregoing, but Spurs have scored 19 over their last six games at Wembley, and Arsenal have conceded eight away in their last four (against ‘ordinary’ sides: Crystal Palace (2), West Brom (1), Bournemouth (2), Swansea (3)). They just scored two at Anfield as well, which has been no easy task this season, although I am not sure that even the most loyal Spurs fan could distort a Wanyama wonder-strike and two controversial penalty decisions into optimistic scoring prospects for the future. At least it suggests Kane is still on penalties! What Kane does give you is explosiveness. With six braces and two hat-tricks already this season and playing in a Spurs side in fine scoring-fettle at home, ignoring Kane might be a bold move (although I almost certainly will do given that it is the early kick-off on Saturday). Oh yeah, and I heard he is manipulating his voodoo doll to enable him to score a hat-trick.
Theo Walcott – home vs Crystal Palace
Perhaps this is just my way of getting into Init’s good books, but Palace have shipped four against Arsenal, four against Manchester United and five agains Manchester City away from home this season. The only other notable side they have faced away is Liverpool back in August where they conceded just the one. But then, are Everton a notable side? N-Oh, umm, sorry Init, of course they are.
Everton have averaged over two goals per home game against the bottom nine. Whilst they have only been able to muster three in their last four, this does include blanks against Chelsea and Manchester United, and a visit from West Brom, which can always go either way.
The 2-2 draw between the sides earlier in the season masks the fact that their preceding five encounters have seen just six goals in total though, although Walcott is a very exciting addition to the Everton side.
He was brought off early against his former club, although Allardyce assured fans that this was merely precautionary with the game already lost. Optimistic. He went close against his former club, and obviously already has two goals and an assist for Everton in his first three starts. The Toffees were unable to provide him service against Arsenal, although Palace should not prove as tricky an opposition to dictate the play against and PVA Glue will probably give Walcott loads of space out wide, whilst he stands up front all game trying to get himself a goal so he can get a tenner from each grandma after the game.
Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling – home vs Leicester
Their team is dropping like flies, and yet more options seem to just appear from out of the woodwork. Time will tell but at the moment it looks like Leicester may continue to struggle on without Mahrez, which will not help their attacking play. Not that any side has registered an attack at the Etihad all season.
Leicester’s title-winning run perhaps induces a façade of solidity at the back. Leaking 2+ in seven away games in 13 already this season is a far cry from their defensive heroics in the 2015/16 campaign. To add to their defensive worries, Manchester City have scored 2+ in their last 12 at home and 3+ in ten of those with West Ham United and Southampton commendably only letting two in each.
Sergio Aguero does appear to have a preference for home ties, blanking in his last four away games (and only scoring one in the 4-0 drubbing of Swansea the away game before that), compared with seven in his last four at home, although that does include that hat-trick against Newcastle. My counsellor says I need to let it go now.
If Aguero’s home form is good, Sterling’s is better, and it continued against West Brom where the winger racked up two assists. Since Gameweek 11 against Arsenal, Sterling’s home game points are as follows: 5, 13, 9, 2, 12, 13, 11, 9, 5, 10. You also get the added bonus of watching him score you points whilst running around like a T-Rex, which always makes the dregs of your sixth pint at the pub more palatable.
Mohamed Salah – away vs Southampton
If that Liverpool fan on Soccer AM could not persuade you to put the armband on Salah (dodododododoo) last weekend, then fear not for this weekend gives you a 27th-chance to. Liverpool’s attack has been ruthless away from home, scoring 2+ in 7/8 of their most recent games (the odd one out being a bizarre 1-0 defeat to Swansea). Southampton have managed to stay relatively watertight at home though, conceding only a solitary goal against each of Manchester United, Everton, Arsenal and Spurs. Their only drubbing came at the hands of Leicester (a 4-1 defeat).
There are two other options: you could captain Firmino, or you could get greedy and bring in the Oxlade-Chamberlain too, the equivalent of d’Artganan to the Three Musketeers. How has that one panned out? There is a reason why Saido Mane and Roberto Firmino have not been replaced, respectively, with ‘Ohhhh Chamby Chamby’ or ‘Oxlade-Chamberlaaaaain’. For me, there is no point experimenting with another Liverpool captain, or bringing in another of their attacking players to compensate for the fact that every man and his dog has Salah. Just captain Salah. Since Gameweek 11, his points have been as follows: 15, 16, 7, 13, 5, 11, 3, 8, 10, 9, 14, -, 11, 2, 8, 15. And which team faced the biggest and boldest score there? Oh, only the reverse leg of this weekend’s fixture.
PUNT(S) OF THE WEEK: Olivier Giroud/Eden Hazard – home vs West Brom
Unfortunately, this excellent-looking fixture on paper is in need of a player to stand out from the crowd. The week you captain Morata, Hazard scores. The week you captain Hazard, Alonso scores two. And then you captain Alonso, and, well, you realise he is not Leighton Baines and/or he is not started as a ‘precaution’. The Supernaturals sung that: ‘Every silver lining has a cloud’. It would appear that the converse is also true, for the shambles that was Gameweek 26 caused the Twitter-sphere to explode with rage at their £7.4m man being replaced by an injured Phil Bardsley off the bench. The joke is on you lot, in my team Phil Bardsley replaced Phil Jones, or Joe Gomez, and he may as well have replaced Jonjoe Kenny instead – it would not have made a difference!
After offloading their promising young striker, Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea’s 3-0 and 4-1 humiliations at the hands of Bournemouth and Watford respectively were probably enough to relieve Eden Hazard of lone-striker duties. Enter Gorgeous Giroud. It is rather amusing that after over a game and a half up-top Hazard only ended up scoring when Giroud came onto the pitch and pushed him out wide. I am not really sure why Chelsea sent Batshuayi out and brought in Giroud whilst simultaneously enabling Aubameyang to go to Arsenal. Maybe Antonio Conte had noticed that Arsene Wenger is really quite useless in transfer windows and he felt compelled to give him a helping hand. Perhaps his kids watch ArsenalFanTV and he cannot stand overhearing the vapid whining any longer.
As Hazard’s most recent brace (against Brighton) showed, he needs to play out wide to be a Fantasy option. In this way, if Giroud starts, the pair of them may be astute captaincy options. It is a big if, and realistically no one is going to bringing Giroud in, but if Morata is still out I cannot see Conte deploying Hazard there again. Whilst this season is hard to judge Giroud on, 12 Premier League goals and four assists in less than 1200 minutes of football in the 2016/17 campaign is superb (and six of those goals and two of those assists came from a starting position, before the ‘sub effect’ gets thrown at me like a beer bottle at a naff concert). With the board willing to back Conte for the time being, I would not be surprised to see Conte push Giroud into the limelight as he panics to try and find a solution to Chelsea’s problems.
West Brom have conceded nine in their last four away games (Stoke (3), West Ham (2), Everton (1), Manchester City (3)), so if Chelsea can re-find the form which saw them net 11 in four (Newcastle (3), Southampton (1), Brighton (2), Stoke (5)) before they blanked twice at home (against Leicester and Bournemouth) then a Monday Night Football captaincy might be a good shout. Then again, it did not work out for them last Monday.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Captain Picks Gameweek 27. This article was written by AT.
The League Codes for FF247 for the 2017/18 season are as follows:
Gameweek Tracker GW27-32