In our eyes there are only really two places your FPL Captain’s armband can go this gameweek; to Anfield, or to the Etihad. The other game we’ve cast aside is Arsenal vs. Sunderland. The Gunners are a team who rarely fail to score, but this season they’ve added a lot of ‘defensive control’ to their game which, whilst ensuring more results and clean sheets, has taken the edge of their once cavalier-type attacking game. They are more likely to comfortably win a game 2-0 these days than 7-2.
To Anfield then, and the choice between Suarez and Sturridge. Suarez is still held by around half a million more FPL managers so he will be by far the most popular captain’s pick in your minileagues once again this week. When you look at what he’s achieved this season it’s hard not to justify that. We took a good look at the pair’s stats in an article earlier this week (see Suarez vs Sturridge) and concluded that Sturridge has the edge, although not to the degree that the recent points would suggest. Although Suarez has had 6 more shots in the last 5 weeks, our ability to rate each shot with our Expected Goal model suggests that Sturridge has had the higher quality shots, shooting from closer to goal and from more central areas. This shows in his higher shot accuracy (50% compared to 33%) and their respective goal tallies (6 goals to 1).
Our money is still with Sturridge and we’ll be backing that up by captaining him this week in our own team. As we said in our newsletter though, it’s a frightening prospect. Advocates of Suarez can rightly point to Suarez’s higher number of chances created and better record on home soil against weaker opposition. It really is a knife-edge decision and could go either way. Indeed the bookies can hardly split the two. Suarez is 4/7 (57%) to score anytime, Sturridge is 8/13 (61%). With the odds so close the lower ownership and less likelihood of captaincy make Sturridge a big risk/reward pick.
There is another tasty fixture on the agenda this week though.
This is a team of winners and Stoke could be in for another hiding at the hands of the league’s best. Stoke have the 3rd worst away defensive record in the league and have only managed 2 clean sheets away from home all season. They’ve conceded 3 or more goals at Everton, United, Arsenal and Spurs. We expect City to hit back in this one and David Silva and Edin Dzeko look in line for some overdue rewards. Neither have been in great form of late. Silva has only 2 assists to his name in his last 6 games despite City scoring 12 in that time. Dzeko fares better with 4 goals in his last 5 full appearances but, as ever, has been the subject of rotaion. Of the two, we’d back the striker every time with our Captain’s armband.
Our eyes will be at Anfield though, as will the majority of FPL managers. It’d take a brave manager to bet against Luis Suarez and the only player who looks capable of upsetting that particular apple-cart is the same that has been doing so for the last 5 matches.