Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Captain Picks Gameweek 18. Here we are then, on the run up to Christmas and, boy, has it come around quickly. Somehow, I’ve managed to find time to write this article as, in typical tradition, I still have way too many presents to get for so many relatives. All I can say is that a free trial on a certain rainforest-named website has been a lifesaver – if only this website could also write your cards, drive you up the M6 to visit family and answer for you every time you’re asked what your Christmas and New Year plans are. That would make it all a much more relaxing time of year.
Like deciding what presents to get, this gameweek presents real dilemmas, albeit on who to give the captain’s armband to, as there are a number players on good form playing against teams that could easily concede a couple or more. Lots of managers, myself included, were disappointed to see Harry Kane blank once again in a match many saw him doing well in – it’s been very interesting to see that 52,000 managers have transferred him out since, no doubt in a bout of pure rage. Even his teammate Eriksen, who has been faring better in recent matches, only came away with two points in that match. The second-most captained player by the top 5,000 managers was Costa and so not everyone was disappointed, even if he did have to finally pick up that fifth yellow card to miss the Bournemouth game. This has resulted in 195,000 people waving goodbye to him out their teams since, of which a good few intend to bring him straight back after his one-game ban, I’m sure. There’s no word on how many people had the fortune to captain Patrick van Aanholt in the last gameweek as he scored 15 points!
So, without further ado, let’s put the last gameweeks behind us and take a look at my top five best captain choices:
5. Gylfi Sigurdsson (West Ham at home)
This Icelandic warrior of a player has been kept quiet the past two gameweeks, as his team scored only one goal to the six they conceded. He was also kept very quiet by Spurs in Swansea’s 5-0 defeat at White Hart Lane. However, Gylfi is my pick because it was a very different story when he played his last two home games, scoring 13 points against Sunderland and ten in the truly bonkers 5-4 result against Crystal Palace. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game go along the same lines as they face West Ham in what could prove to be a relegation six-pointer, with Sigurdsson the centre of the points collection as he is arguably their best player. The last time the teams met, it finished 4-1 in Swansea’s favour as they well and truly put a sour note on one of the Hammers’ last games at Upton Park in May.
4. Eden Hazard (Bournemouth at home)
Things have also been quiet from a fantasy football perspective for Eden as of late, with one goal in the last five games he’s played in, however you can easily look back to his master classes at home to Everton and away at Southampton beforehand. His colleague, a certain Mr Costa, is not going to be playing as he finally collected that yellow card against Crystal Palace. This, mixed with the fact Eden has had more time to recover from the knock picked up against the Baggies, means he will be a real Hazard as far as Bournemouth’s defence is concerned. Though I said he has been quiet, Eden was excellent away at Crystal Palace and was unlucky to have not got among the points with Marcos Alonso providing an excellent supply. Whilst they may offer something going forward, the Bournemouth’s back line has conceded 12 goals in the last five games, with Southampton, Burnley, Liverpool and Arsenal all putting three past them – don’t be surprised if Hazard and co at Chelsea also do the same as they look to make it 12 wins out of 12.
3. Sadio Mane (Stoke at home)
I was writing this piece as the Merseyside derby was taking place and Mane managed to cement his place in this article with his late, late winner. A week or two ago, you could easily have said that Sadio has performed best when playing at home, with eight, six, 13 and 12 points gained in his last four league appearances at Anfield and not as much when away. The defeat against Bournemouth, however, where Sadio managed to get 11 points – along with finding the back of the net at Goodison Park – has shown that he doesn’t have to be in front of the Kop to get the points, showing himself as a real asset to the team. It was very much the case that I was hoping Mane would pick things up after Liverpool lost Coutinho to injury and he’s definitely not disappointed. Looking to their opposition, Stoke have conceded five times in the last three games, with the last visit to Anfield, in April this year, resulting in a 4-1 defeat to the boys in red. Whilst I don’t expect the same kind of result to happen again, especially with Stoke doing better recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mane in the middle of any action once again. We just need to make the most of him before the African Cup of Nations!
2. Alexis Sanchez (West Brom at home)
Where do I start with this guy?! Well, those of you who decided to stick with him as Hazard hit his sublime form in November were then rewarded when Alexis hit the form that he’s enjoying now. You probably don’t need to be told that he’s now accrued an insane 54 points in the last five gameweeks – more than fellow midfielders Silva, Barkley and Mata have managed all season! He’s also the second highest goalscorer with 12 goals, just one goal behind Costa’s first place, meaning he could find himself on top of the pile with a successful fixture against the Baggies. Indeed, Arsenal will want to be picking themselves up from defeats against Man City and Everton and, no matter how brave West Brom’s defence will be – they haven’t conceded more than two goals since the end of October – Sanchez will no doubt find the back of the net or set up his teammate Walcott who has found a great bit of form recently. The last time Arsenal lost to West Brom at home was back in 2010 and they still managed to put two past them then – you have to go back to 23rd November 1985 to see the Baggies keep a clean sheet away at the Gunners in the league, when it was called the First Division I was just five weeks old (so forgive me for not remembering it!).
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sunderland at home)
Welcome home, Zlatan. You’re back in form, I’m writing about you once again and you’re my top pick. He’s got the third highest amount of goals in the league so far this season, behind the aforementioned Sanchez and Costa and, looking to the all-important form statistics, he’s scored 23 points in the past two gameweeks, thanks to three goals and an assist against Crystal Palace and West Brom. In his last nine games in all competitions, he’s scored ten goals, had 29 shots and created 26 chances. Looking to this fixture, Ibrahimovic is against what could be considered to be easier opposition as of late, as David Moyes makes a rather uncomfortable return to Old Trafford. Whilst Sunderland are more competitive than they have been at this time of year in recent seasons, you still can’t look past their 18th place in the league table, with no clean sheet achieved on the road yet this season. A run of fixtures is key in selecting a player for your team and those who have Zlatan in their team will also be able to look forward to Middlesbrough and West Ham coming up on his hit list after Sunderland.
Another one to consider:
Theo Walcott (Stoke at home)
No-one likes to live in the shadow of their fellow players and is determined to get in the limelight – it seems that Theo is in that boat. Whilst Sanchez has been scoring for fun, Walcott has also been getting the points in, scoring Arsenal’s only goal in their defeat at the Etihad and getting on the scoresheet in the home matches to Bournemouth and Stoke in gameweeks 13 and 15 respectively. This is the start of a good run of games for the Gunners, as the five fixtures following the Baggies will be key to their title hopes and not finishing fourth.
May I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope you have a great time wherever you are. From a fantasy football perspective, here’s to Boxing Day delivering a late Christmas present in the form of lots of points and green arrows!
Thanks for reading Fantasy Premier League Captain Picks Gameweek 18. This article was written by The Swirly
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