FPL Captain Analysis: Gameweek 33

We explore the best options for the Fantasy Premier League captain for FPL Gameweek 33 and reveal the results of our captain poll – who will you choose this FPL Gameweek?

Article written by FPL Rover.

BRAND NEW METRIC EXPLAINED: This article (hit the link) explains the concept and working fully >> https://fplconnect.blog/2018/08/07/the-captain-metric-explained-2/

Results of the Poll

Salah wins the poll with 61.2% of votes.

The following underlying statistics are taken from FantasyFootballHub.co.uk. If you want to gain access to these stats yourself, register to become a member here >> https://fantasyfootballhub.co.uk/freetrial/.

Mo Salah

Underlying attacking stats the last 5 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested not included):

  • 4 appearances
  • 33 penalty area touches
  • 1 big chance created
  • 4 big chances
  • 2 goals
  • 0 assists

Bruno Fernandes

Underlying attacking stats the last 5 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested not included):

  • 4 appearances
  • 14 penalty area touches
  • 2 big chances created
  • 3 big chances
  • 0 goals
  • 1 assist

Kelechi Iheanacho

Underlying attacking stats the last 5 GWs (games where he was out injured/rested not included):

  • 3 appearances
  • 17 penalty box touches
  • 2 big chances created
  • 4 big chances
  • 5 goals
  • 0 assists

Captain Metric

The announcement of a European Super League (“ESL”) earlier this week rocked the football world as six Premier League clubs signed up to a new European competition that would effectively end competition as we know it. Thankfully those plans have swiftly fallen through, but the chances of this idea going away forever seem very unlikely.

The ESL drama is just another example of how unique and unpredictable this season has been, with many prepared to turn their back on their club, and even football altogether, if the plans were to materialise.

As it happens, we’re still in the middle of an FPL gameweek (at the time of writing) which has worked around two FA Cup semi finals and has seen games being played every night so far this week. With another game tonight (Leicester v West Brom) and gameweek 33 commencing tomorrow evening, there is insufficient data to accurately share the metric calculation.

That said, there will still be an analysis of the main captaincy candidates in terms of their underlying data and fixture strength as we look ahead to gameweek 33. Spurs and Man City will contest the League Cup final on Sunday, so Spurs, Man City, Southampton and Fulham will all blank this week.

Who are the top performers?

We have summarised the data from the past five gameweeks for selected players ahead of gameweek 33 in the table below.

Key attacking stats for select captaincy candidates between Gameweeks 28 & 32

Please note the all data in the article is based on the past five gameweeks unless stated otherwise.

There are a number of strong individual performers to choose from this week, which should help spread the armband around a little more than gameweek 32. The League Cup final also means we don’t have to try and predict Pep roulette, or gamble on Spurs turning things around under caretaker boss Ryan Mason.

One of the more popular choices this week will be Mo Salah, who was rested for Monday night’s draw against Leeds United. Perhaps a surprise that he was rested given they have no other competitions this season, but that should almost guarantee him a start against Newcastle this weekend.

Ignoring the fixture, Salah comes into gameweek 33 with some very impressive underlying numbers. 10.3 penalty box touches per 90 (PBT90) is a very impressive figure in comparison to most of the other options this week. Salah appears to have abandoned his creative instinct in search of goals in recent weeks, which has resulted in 5.3 shots and 1.2 big chances per 90.

Since Diogo Jota returned to the side, his underlying numbers have been very similar to Salah’s. With 10.2 PBT90, he is making an impact inside the box and creating chances. This is a great sign for Liverpool as scoring goals have eluded them for a large period of the season. It would be surprising to see Jota drop out this weekend on current form, but Salah and Mane were the last two rested so either Jota or Firmino could make way against Newcastle.

Normally there wouldn’t be a defender in the list due to the attacking nature of the metric, but Alexander-Arnold has justified his place as an option with some excellent performances. With 2.5 key passes per 90 and 1 big chance per 90, he is ranked highest among the other captaincy options this week as a creative outlet. He looks confident and has even chipped in with a crucial goal (vs Aston Villa); will there be more to come?

Greenwood and Iheanacho are both also worth consideration on current form, with goals coming freely for the pair. Although Iheanacho’s PL game has yet to take place, his goal last weekend was enough to send Leicester into the FA Cup final; he just can’t stop scoring! Greenwood has also been very impressive and matches Salah’s underlying stats very closely, but has four goals rather than Salah’s two. Definitely one to consider for captaincy while in this form.

Which fixtures should be targeted?

On to the fixtures, there are some very appealing match ups this weekend for some of the selected captaincy options. This season has tried it’s best to prove that form is more important than fixtures, but as we get to the closing weeks of the season you certainly can’t ignore them.

Average xG (expected goals) for and against per 90 minutes between Gameweeks 28 & 32

Liverpool host Newcastle in the early kick off on Saturday, with Liverpool looking in much better form recently. Despite drawing with Leeds, they have won four of their last six league games and put their Anfield woes behind them with a win against Villa. Newcastle looked in grave danger but have picked up two vital wins against Burnley and West Ham; results that should have done enough to secure their survival. The pressure will be much less on Bruce’s team going into this fixture which could open it up nicely.

Liverpool recent form | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

In their last seven games, Liverpool can consider themselves a little unlucky to have only scored 9 goals, or perhaps it’s just poor finishing. 18 big chances have been created which shows there is a strong attacking threat, including two games where they created six big chances in each. You sense there is another big score on the way with Liverpool.

Newcastle form vs top half clubs | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

Looking at Newcastle’s form against the current top half clubs, it’s clear that they struggle defensively. In these seven fixtures, they have conceded 17 big chances and only kept one clean sheet. That game (vs Everton) aside, they have conceded at least two goals in every meeting against a top half side. This is a good sign for Liverpool.

Another appealing fixture to consider this week is Man United, who take on Leeds United. Unlike Liverpool, Man United are still in Europe and aren’t worried about dropping out of the top four in the league. Leeds are very well placed in their first season back in the PL, but it is unlikely we will see a Biela side ‘on the beach’ in the closing weeks. Europe looks unlikely but they will want to finish as high as possible.

Man United recent form | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

Man United’s recent league form has been very consistent. Five wins from five and 18 big chances created show a team well in control of their games. Ole has achieved this while also competing in Europe, so has had to manage his squad effectively. Greenwood has had a quieter season than most expected, but he seems to be finding some consistent form at the right time for Man United.

Leeds recent form | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

Leeds have had a string of impressive results, holding Liverpool and Chelsea to draws while beating Man City despite playing most of the game with 10 men. You can see from their results (above) that things have tightened up defensively. Only one clean sheet in seven, but they are conceding an average of one goal per game. Man United found scoring very easy in their earlier meeting, but are unlikely to repeat that on this evidence.

Palace form vs top half clubs | Source: FFScout & Understat.com (xG)

Another fixture you may be looking to target is Leicester, who play mid table Crystal Palace on Monday. Palace are a team you could definitely class as ‘on the beach’; 13th in the table, their Manager is very likely to be leaving and many players will be out of contract in the summer. This has been evident for a while, with Palace putting up little resistance versus top half teams. In their last seven meetings against top half opposition, they have conceded an extraordinary 26 big chances and 18 goals. If you’re looking for a team to target then this is them.

My view

In the absence of a complete dataset, and ultimately the metric calculation, my view will be less influenced by data on this occasion. The data that we have been able to review so far has been extremely helpful in narrowing the captaincy pool down to a smaller number. My top five would be:

Mo Salah

Diogo Jota

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Mason Greenwood

Kelechi Iheanacho

In my opinion, any of these options would be a worthy metric winner this week and could all have a really strong gameweek 33. Each player in the list comes with excellent form and an appealing fixture, so we don’t need to dive any further into the data.

For me, I’m finding it hard to look past Mo Salah this week. Had he started the game against Leeds then I may be thinking differently, but he has been rested and has a home fixture against a team who theoretically don’t have much to play for. This certainly isn’t a ‘must win’ game for Newcastle, who may enjoy playing without the handbrake on for the first time in a while.

Had Salah started the Leeds game, which I expected him too, I would have strongly considered Alexander-Arnold as captain this week. He is looking much more like the player from last season who chipped in with so many attacking returns, while the defence has been looking more settled. However, Liverpool were fortunate not to concede more against Leeds, and with Phillips still a doubt then it’s hard to rely on the clean sheet points. Still, his attacking threat should be strong in this fixture.

For more of a punt, Iheanacho would make a superb option this week. This all depends on him making it through the West Brom game, but his goals have nailed his place in the side alongside Vardy. Between the two of them, Iheanacho seems to be getting the lions share of opportunities while Vardy provides the support; exhibited in the FA Cup semi final last weekend. Their opposition, Crystal Palace, have been woeful against the top half clubs and, for me anyway, that is the best fixture to target in gameweek 33.

A few weeks ago I was looking to this gameweek with Bruno firmly in my plans as captain against Leeds, but that idea has faded strongly. Firstly, United are looking much better as a team which means they aren’t using Bruno to create every chance; the likes of Pogba, Cavani and Greenwood have all stepped up too. His lack of returns is evidence of this in a period where Man United continue to win games comfortably without his direct involvement. Secondly, Leeds have become a harder team to break down which means the fixture isn’t ideal for him to suddenly hit a huge score.

Given the torment of gameweek 32, both on and off the field, this is a great time to have fun with your captaincy pick. There should be plenty of options within your squad who you feel could do well, so definitely back your instincts on this one – good luck!

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