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Blue Moon Rising

The pros and cons of triple captaining a Man City player in GW27

Since Manchester City have successfully negotiated their way past Huddersfield Town, to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, it now means that the first double gameweek of the 2016/17 Fantasy Premier League season will place in GW27. City’s game with Stoke City is set to be brought forward to the 8th March, even though it will clash with some Champions League action, effectively creating a double gameweek for the Citizens, who also travel to Sunderland on Sunday 5th March and the Potters, who have a home game with Middlesbrough on Saturday.

This is the crucial stage of the season when seasoned FPL managers dust down those ‘chips’ and we can expect a vast number to be ‘palming’ the triple captain variety between now and the GW27 deadline.

Playing this chip is not for the faint-hearted though and the responsibility of the burden will invariably go to the big-hitters, those players priced at £10m or above, of which there are 8 to choose from.

Two of this elite group, Sergio Agüero and Kevin De Bruyne, will be in action in GW27, so FPL managers will need to decide if this is the moment to pounce or opt to preserve the precious chip for a more suitable opportunity at a later date.

Since Agüero and De Bruyne are both expected to feature twice in GW27, it’s no surprise to see them listed as the best two ranked players, in terms of goals and assists potential, for this upcoming gameweek.

GW27 ‘Captometer’ Rankings

 

While giving either player the GW27 armband seems logical, deciding whether to spice it up by throwing in the ‘triple’ chip requires further probing, so we need to take a look at the pros and cons.

Fixture difficulty

Let’s look at the fixtures first. City are expected to score 5.2 goals over the 2 matches which are Sunderland away and Stoke City at home, an aggregate goals estimation that may not be bettered by any other side between now and the end of the season in any other gameweek.

This is highly significant. We already know a number of games that will need to be rescheduled – Southampton v Arsenal, Man City v Man Utd, Crystal Palace v Spurs, Arsenal v Leicester, Southampton v Man Utd and Chelsea v Watford, while the following games will also be postponed if any of the featured sides progress to the FA Cup semi-finals – Man City v West Brom, Arsenal v Sunderland, Spurs v Leicester, Burnley v Man Utd and Chelsea v Southampton.

However, when we juggle all the possibilities of when these games might be rearranged, it is difficult to make a strong case for any side having an aggregate goals forecast higher than the 5.2 that City have, based on the latest betting odds for GW27, while the added complication of calling a winner from the Chelsea vs Manchester United quarter-final FA Cup tie doesn’t help either.

Game minutes

One of the other key variables to consider before pulling the trigger is playing time. Are you comfortable with Pep Guardiola’s incessant formation changes? Data from WhoScored illustrates that the City boss has used 7 different formations in the Premier League this season, while Agüero is only averaging 75 minutes per appearance compared to a shade over 79 minutes in 2015/16. De Bruyne is faring a bit better, averaging approximately 1 minute less per appearance than the 80 per game he recorded last season.

Being substituted, or even worse, starting on the bench, would be detrimental to the chances of either player recording a big total in GW27 but if Guardiola’s side are to have any chances of reeling in Chelsea, 6 points are a must, so full-strength line-ups should be the order of the day. Chelsea themselves travel to West Ham in-between the 2 City games and Guardiola could always rest his big guns for the FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough.

Goal contribution rate

Can a player’s overall goals contribution rate compensate for a reduced goals expectancy? Zlatan Ibrahimović has been directly involved in 19 of the 37 Premier League goals Manchester United have score when he has played. It’s a similar story for Alexis Sánchez of Arsenal and Everton’s Romelu Lukaka, who are both also close to the 50% mark.

The other fantasy ‘studs’ – Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Harry Kane fall some way short of this figure.

With such powerful stats, it is easy to understand why FPL managers might consider hanging onto this chip – Ibra would still make plenty of appeal, even if United’s aggregate expectancy for the 2 games fell some way short of the 5.2 goals City are forecast to score in GW27.

However, injuries and suspensions could also take their toll as the season progresses and United in particular, look to to have a very congested run-in.

Do you want your triple captain to be the established penalty taker?

Ibrahimović, Kane, Hazard and Sánchez all seem to be first choice penalty takers. Costa did miss one at Anfield but Hazard had been substituted moments earlier. Lukaku scored one and missed one for the Toffees last season but Leighton Baines has taken all of the 3 spot kicks Everton have earned this time around.

The situation at City is a bit more complicated. Agüero was involved in a flurry of early season penalties scoring 3 from 4 in the league but also missing 2 in a Champions League group game in Romania. He scored 4 of the 5 Premier League penalties he took last season.

De Bruyne missed an early season spot-kick as well , while Yaya Touré has been taking and converting City’s penalties in the league since December. However, the Ivorian wasn’t involved against Huddersfield, allowing Agüero to resume spot-kick taking responsibility and the City striker stuck his penalty away with aplomb.

Form

Agüero provided a timely reminder of his talent with a brilliant performance in City’s 5-3 1st leg victory over Monaco in the Champions League. The Argentinian scored twice and provided one assist, a feat he replicated in City’s 5-1 FA Cup replay victory over Huddersfield.

De Bruyne has been a model of consistency for the majority of the season but a return of just 4 league goals is a concern. However, no player has hit the woodwork as many times (6) as the Belgian international in the Premier League this season.

It’s difficult not to make a strong case for either player. De Bruyne does have the potential to outscore Agüero over the 2 games, so he could be a tantalizing prospect for FPL managers that are short of funds or looking at a differential triple captaincy play, that could enable them to make headway in their mini-leagues. Agüero contributed to around 44% of City’s goals in the league last season when he was involved, so there is plenty of upside that would enable him to improve on this season’s stats.

It’s a tough call to make but if we hear Blue Moon echoing around the Etihad next Wednesday, one or two Fantasy Premier League managers might just be rising up the rankings!

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