GW31 Captaincy Pick – Who Will You Choose?

GW31 Captaincy Pick – Who Will You Choose?

Who’s The Best Captain for Gameweek 31?

This article was written by @FPL_D5l (Daniel Lison)

I’m going to be exploring the best options for captaincy for Gameweek 31 (GW31).

📌 Results of the Poll

📌 Premium Options & Differential Choice

📌 Who Are The Top Performers

📌Which Fixtures Should Be Targeted

📌 My Conclusion

📌 Who’s Winning The Arm Band

Results of the Poll:

As you can see out of Kane, Salah & Kevin De Bruyne, Salah has a slight lead with 38% of the vote, with KDB getting 22% & in-form Kane getting 18%. 22% went for ‘Other’, which I will cover later in this article. The following stats will be sourced from @FFscout.

Premium Options

Underlying attacking stats in the last 4 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested are not included):

Kevin De Bruyne: 

  • 1.55 xG
  • 2 goals
  • 0.83 xA
  • 1 assist
  • 12 chances created
  • 2 big chances

Mohammad Salah:

  • 1.13 xG
  • 1 goal
  • 0.35 xA
  • 0 assists
  • 2 chances created
  • 1 big chances created

Harry Kane:

  • 4.18 expected goal
  • 6 goals
  • 1.04 expected assists
  • 2 assists
  • 3 chances created
  • 2 big chances created

Bruno Fernandes:

  • 1.55 expected goal
  • 1 goal
  • 0.80 expected assists
  • 1 assist
  • 10 chances created
  • 1 big chances created

Differential Choices:

Underlying attacking stats in the last 4 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested are not included):

Diogo Jota:

  • 1.04 expected goal
  • 3 goals
  • 0.07 expected assists
  • 0 assists
  • 2 chances created
  • 0 big chances created

Jesse Lingard:

  • 1.94 expected goal
  • 3 goals
  • 0.09 expected assists
  • 3 assists
  • 4 chances created
  • 0 big chances created

Who are the Top Performers?

This table compares both the Premiums & Differentials (Underlying attacking stats in the last 4 GWs)

We start with the Premier League’s top goalscorer Harry Kane who has registered 19 goals & 13 assists in 28 games. A record like this doesn’t usually see their team sitting 25 points behind 1st place!

What’s impressed me more this season is that he’s managed to bring his passing and crossing range into the game without losing his goal-scoring ability.

Kane out of the seven players above has the highest xG (4.18), with an xG per 90 of  0.83. In Kane’s last 6 GWs, per 90 minutes he has registered 1.3 big chances, 2.45 shots in the box and 1.96 shots on target! On top of this, he also has an xA of 1.34. These stats make Kane a great candidate for the armband.

We now go to the Liverpool boys, Mo Salah & Diogo Jota. The return of Salah is making many managers pay attention at the moment- he has a great run of games coming up & now that he’s started to score many managers will be thinking about whether to captain him ahead in GW31 as well as other Gameweeks. Looking at the stats, you can make a case for Salah being the best captaincy option in the Liverpool attack.

Over the course of the season (Salah vs Mane vs Jota):

Minutes Per Shot in the box:  36.32 vs 34.34 vs 38.42

Minutes Per Big Chance: 101.1, vs 113 v 113 vs 104.2

Minutes Per Chance: 26.5 vs 29.7 vs 29.2

Looking at these numbers, between the three Liverpool attackers, Salah is the best option.

My differential pick is Jota: he’s becoming too hard to ignore and is making himself an interesting captaincy shout. In the last 4 gameweeks, Jota has averaged a goal attempt in the box every 45.8 minutes & when you consider his his price, he offers great value. No one has a higher goal involvement % for Liverpool (50%) in the league then Jota he has been on the pitch this season.  Jota has also given Salah a boost because, unlike Firmino & Mane, Jota has proven to be a handful for Liverpool’s opponents this season.

Jesse Lingard. Simply put, he’s on fire right now. One of my differential picks for this Gameweek and for a good reason too – just take a look at his attacking stats for his last 4 matches: 3 goals, 3 assists, 5 chances & 2 big chances. One key stat to point out is that Lingard is 3rd for expected goal involvements (2.03) across all the midfielders in the Premier League in the last 4 Gameweeks. It should be noted Antonio had to come off due to injury (hamstring) in the 1st half which did affect Lingard’s performance slightly; Lingard had no shots after Antonio left the pitch. I would wait to assess Antonio’s injury before giving Lingard the armband.

Bruno Fernandes – it’s hard not to add this man in any captaincy articles, especially when he has a record of 29 goals involvements this season. Bruno got himself an assist last GW & also created more chances than any other player against Brighton (4). United will be looking for retaliation against Jose’s men, after losing 6-1 at Old Trafford (it was Bruno scoring United’s goal of course). He would be once again a reliable shout for the armband – he’s United’s main man, takes set pieces, is on pens & is guaranteed to start.

Kevin De Bruyne – how did he not get a big haul last week! He may have got zero goals & zero assists but he was the best man on the pitch. Man City are playing Leeds United on Saturday (12:30), who currently this season against the top 5 teams have conceded 19 goals, keeping just one clean sheet in those eight matches & have conceded three or more goals 30% of the time. Only Southampton have conceded more goals than Leeds’ 30 at home. But it’s the Pep’s Roulette which gets in the way; KDB played a full 90 mins on Tuesday night making him a risk to start. If we can be 100% sure he’ll start, De Bruyne is a great captain pick.

Which fixtures should be targeted?

The Whipping Boys! These are the underlying stats in the last 4 GWS’s 📊

West Brom vs Southampton (Mon 6:00 pm)

We start with the Baggies who pulled off a 5-2 win against Chelsea last week, a surprising win to say the least! But there is no surprise that this Sam Allardyce team has improved defensively: in the last 6 GWs they sit 2nd behind Man United for Goals Conceded (4), for xGC they’re in the middle of the table with 8.24 & have conceded 65 goal attempts which is 6th best. They are certainly not defensively looking like a relegation-threatened side, but on the attacking side is where they are lacking. Of course, West Brom did beat a very good side in Chelsea and put 5 past Mendy, but I see that as a one-off game & certainly don’t expect them to score 5 goals in every match!

Southampton also got themselves a good win last week by beating Burnley 3-2. Out of the two teams, Saints have the better-attacking potential: Danny Ings got himself back on the score sheet with a goal & also provided an assist, along with his teammate Nathan Redmond, who also provided the same returns. Another positive for Southampton is that West Brom has failed to score in six of their nine home league games (W1 D3 L5), which means big clean sheet potential for the Saint’s defence. I think Southampton will be too much for the Baggies.

West Ham vs Leicester United (Sun 2:05 pm)

Both teams go into this game with only 1 clean sheet between them in 6 GW’s, but despite this, both teams are reasonably solid at the back. It’s more the attacking potential that grabs my attention. Both have scored 11 goals in 5 GWs. West Ham has the highest Goal Conversion rate (18.3%)  with Leicester in 4th (15.4%). The Foxes have a higher Shots on Target Goal Conversion of 40.3% though, and Rodgers’ men are one of six teams who are yet to lose a Premier League match at the London stadium, with the Foxes unbeaten in their four matches there (W2 D2).

West Ham is looking to secure their first Premier League double over Leicester since the 1999-00 season under Harry Redknapp. Looking at the Hammers’ goalscoring stats, they have scored in 25 different Premier League matches this season, with only Man City finding the net in more games. Only Leeds (6) have scored more counter-attacking goals – 5 of these have come from Jesse Lingard since he joined in February. The two key players to watch out for are Lingard & Kelechi Iheanacho. Iheanacho has 5 goals in 5 games & Lingard since arriving at the London stadium in GW22 has got 5 goals & 4 assists. This should be a tasty match.

Sheffield United vs Arsenal (Sun 4:30pm)

It’s no surprise to anyone that Sheffield United are the team to target – let’s throw a few stats for the last 6 GWs on the table! The Blades have only kept 1 clean sheet which was in GW26 in their 1-0 win against Villa. They are 1st for Big Chances Conceded (24), 2nd for Shots in the Box Allowed (66) (that’s one behind Wolves), 2nd for Goals Conceded (12) & they have a very high xGC (14.50). Going forward for Sheffield isn’t so successful either: only 2 goals scored & one of them was an OG!

Let’s shine a little light for the Blades though: they are unbeaten in all four home Premier League matches against Arsenal (W2 D2), winning 1-0 in 2006/07 & 2019-20.

Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 6, conceding 3 goals in each of their last 3 games. Despite unpredictable form this season, I think they will test the Sheffield United defence & we will see some goals going in.

My Conclusion:

Overall, GW31 isn’t an easy captain decision to make, there are a variety of different options to go for. Having broken down the stats for the players mentioned above, I’m still very unsure on who to captain. The first player who pops into my head is Harry Kane; he could be the safe pick out of the 6, especially since he’s a guaranteed starter, he’s on pens & has a very high XG (4.18) recently. But he’s up against Man United, who have a pretty good record against the top 6 teams which does put me off slightly.

Then we go to Bruno Fernandes, which again is a similar story to Kane: guaranteed to play, takes most of the set pieces & is on pens, but again this fixture doesn’t flatter me. I can see a boring game & a draw written all over.

Then we go to the obvious picks: Manchester City assets. Looking at Leeds’ record against the top 5 teams, it is tempting to captain KDB & risk it. We can’t ignore Leeds’ stats vs strong opposition: 19 goals conceded and keeping just one clean sheet. They should be the team to target this game week but the big question is… who starts??? KDB played a full 90 minutes on Tuesday night’s Champions League game & they play on Saturday lunchtime which should be enough rest time… but will Pep rest him for the second leg? All those doubts are too much for me, so for that reason, KDB doesn’t wear the armband.

Looking towards slightly differential options, Jota and Lingard. Both players have been incredible as of late. I would be more inclined to go for Jota for the statistics mentioned above. Lingard has been in brilliant form but Antonio’s injury is very concerning for his attacking output. Also, West Ham is up against Leicester who defensively looks good. Lingard will not get the armband.

The last one to mention then: Mohammed Salah. Since Salah scored last week, that’s going to keep many managers interested, especially the one’s who don’t own him. When looking at his Minutes Per Shot, Minutes Per Big Chance & Minutes Per Chance, I think these make him the best option out of all the Liverpool attackers. I also think they will be up for revenge after an embarrassing 7-2 defeat against Aston Villa early on in the season.

So step right up… Mohammed Salah! You’re my CAPTAIN!

Who’s Winning The Armband?

1️⃣ Salah

2️⃣ Jota

3️⃣ Kane

4️⃣ Bruno Fernandes

5️⃣ Lingard

6️⃣ Kevin De Bruyne

 

A big thank you to everyone who may read this article, I hope it helps you for GW31 & I wish you all the best.

Thank you.

 

 

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