GW36 – 3 Shades of Captaincy

mo Salah
cleansheetwipeout
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Hello and welcome to my new series for captaincy selection! Each week I will be picking 3 captaincy options for the upcoming game week, broken down as the following:

TOP PICK – The captaincy whom I believe will be the most highly owned and is therefore a risk to go against.

PIPPED AT THE POST – The captaincy which I believe could also haul but may well be a lower EO than we expect.

DARK HORSE – The maverick pick that may have murmurs of anticipation across the community but many will be worried to gamble on.

I thought I would give it a trial run for the remainder of the season, take on board any of your comments and then start a fresh going into the 21/22 season.

Now looking ahead, blank game week 36 is upon us and with that comes blanks for Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea & Leicester. There are however some very tasty fixtures left in the week and with that comes some difficult captaincy selections. Everton play Sheffield United, Liverpool host West Brom, Manchester City go away to Newcastle & Tottenham host Wolves to name a few of the standouts. I genuinely think the captaincy is wide open this week and it is going to be tough to pin down my 3 picks, but I shall do my very best to give you my honest opinion!

TOP PICK – Mo Salah
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For me, it has to be Mo Salah. After the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal, West Brom are now confirmed as relegated from the Premier League and Big Sam loses that record of managing to avoid relegation with the clubs he has managed. This season West Brom have conceded the most shots (535), the most in the box (342) & the most on target (223). Now yes, those stats have improved since Big Sam came to the club, but in the last 6 game weeks West Brom have still been the 2nd worst team for Expected Goals Conceded (xGC) at 13.19. With the pressure now off, I can see West Brom trying to enjoy the final few games of the season and although that could bring more goals for the likes of Pereira, I personally feel they may well continue to leak big chances too. Arsenal managed to put away 3 with what was a relatively indifferent team and I can see Liverpool and Salah in particular doing some damage this weekend.

There is still a glimmer of hope that Liverpool can qualify for the UCL and although I don’t believe they deserved to come away from the Saints game as 2-0 victors (I am a little bias as a Saints fan) I believe Klopp will be drilling them to ensure they do not slip up between now and the end of the season. In the last 6 game weeks Salah has had 21 shots, with 18 of those coming inside the box. Now only 8 of those have been on target, but that does not account for blocked efforts. He has 3 goals to his name and personally he has underachieved in that period. But this is Mo Salah at the end of the day and with Milner looking likely absent through injury, Salah should well be on penalties too. To top it all off, he is battling Harry Kane for that illustrious Golden Boot and only 1 goal behind, I believe Salah will be greedier than ever to get there. If Liverpool can continue to create and provide the chances then I see no reason why they couldn’t match Arsenals tally against the Baggies.

I would be incredibly disappointed is Salah did not get at least a goal in this game and if he doesn’t provide a double-digit return then it really would be a failure in my eyes. I will be captaining him this week and for that reason he is my top pick for the week.

PIPPED AT THE POST – Harry Kane
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A very close 2nd and inevitably another who will be highly captained this week will be Harry Kane and he therefore gets the ‘pipped at the post’ tag this week. 2 goals ruled out for offside, with the first being a laughable mm margin call by VAR in my opinion, followed up by Kane hitting the bar from a free kick against Leeds in game week 35. It could very well have been a different outcome for Kane, rather than the 2 points he got for all of us frustrated owners. To top it all off, I had Bamford first on my bench with his 9 as he laughed at me from the side-lines.

Kane is still comfortably the highest points scorer amongst the forwards, with Bamford sitting in 2nd almost 50 points behind him. We have saw Kane slip further and further back this season, more befitting of a number 10 rather than a number 9, but that has not diminished his attacking returns. 21 goals and 13 assists for the season is a ridiculously massive haul and without Kane, Tottenham would be nowhere near the Europa League spots right now. Following Mourinho’s departure, we have seen Ryan Mason step up as Interim Manager and Spurs have looked a little more lively going forward as of late. With Wolves seemingly on the beach and Nuno rotating his first 11 each game now, Spurs could well look to dominate and score a few goals. If it wasn’t for Lewis Dunk getting sent off against Wolves, it would have no doubt been a very different result.

In the last 6 games, Kane has had 27 shots, 16 of those coming from inside the box and 9 on target. He has scored 5 times in that period, all coming from inside the box and I fully expect him to return once more against Wolves this coming weekend. As noted previously, it is a 2-horse race for the golden boot with Kane leading by 1 to Mo Salah. He will not want to lose that as we head into a Euros summer, that is for sure.  With Son & Bale looking lively alongside him, I can see plenty of chances being created for Kane to put away in game week 35 and I would not turn anyone off of captaining him this week, even if they did also own Mo Salah. It is truly a 50/50 call between the 2 in my eyes.

DARK HORSE – Kevin De Bruyne

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Now it feels very strange calling this man a ‘Dark Horse’ but the man claiming the spot this week is one Kevin De Bruyne. We are so used to seeing the Ginger Magician topping the charts for midfielder returns but after an injury ravaged season and with City going all the way in the UCL, he languishes all the way down in 17th for midfielder returns. This has also seen De Bruyne’s ownership drop to 13.3% and I expect quite a lot of those may well be from dead teams. KDB has not featured in any of the last 4 FPL games given Pep has been rotating his squad heavily whilst they fought on all fronts and to some extent you would say that has worked given they have now reached the Champions League Final and they have also won the Carabao Cup this year.

However, with the Champions League final coming after the league has finished, I believe we will see City playing close to their best 11 for the remainder of the campaign. Yes, some may see reduced minutes in order to protect them for the final, but Pep will surely want them going into that game full of confidence and the only way you get that is through playing and winning games. Given the rest they have had, I think Friday night away at Newcastle could see City play start the likes of KDB, Foden & Mahrez and celebrating winning the title in style. After slipping up at the weekend, City will surely want to put the league to bed in style. KDB has 5 goals and 11 assists to his name and I am confident that he will be adding to that tally on Friday.

Newcastle have been far better over the last 6 games and following their 4-2 win against Leicester, we could be in for a very good game of football on Friday night. However, with the likes of ASM, Wilson & Willock pressing forward, it could leave space in the midfield for the likes of KDB to exploit. At only 13.3% owned at present, this Friday could be the perfect time to gamble on KDB and potentially enjoy a mammoth haul in the process. If I were on a free hit for instance, I would be trebling up on City with KDB, Mahrez & Foden being my load up in midfield with the hope that 2/3 of them would comfortably haul. For that reason, KDB is my dark horse for the week. It is not often we get to say that for a player like KDB.

TOP PICK – Mo Salah

PIPPED AT THE POST – Harry Kane

DARK HORSE – Kevin De Bruyne

It will be interesting to see how the points stack up for all 3 of the above assets and I will cover off how each of them got on in the next article, looking ahead to game week 37. The season is coming to an end and perhaps now is the time to enjoy a few punts!

Good luck for the blank game week and let’s hope it is a successful one!

Thanks for reading.

Clean Sheet Wipeout – Co Host of the ‘Season Keepers’ podcast.

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