With just three games left of the season, every game is a must win for the teams battling for European qualification. Although the bottom three are all confirmed to be playing Championship football next season and Manchester City have been confirmed as champions, there are still six clubs battling it out for the European spots. Let’s hope the four players selected in this week’s Fantasy Premier League captain picks will deliver in the all-important games to provide those crucial points for FPL managers.
Fantasy Premier League Captain Picks
Raheem Sterling (vs. Newcastle)
Newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City play their first match after securing the title this weekend. Despite their league season being effectively over, one player who will be keen to grab a few more goals this campaign is Raheem Sterling, who is the first of this week’s Fantasy Premier League Captain Picks.
The former Liverpool winger currently has 10 goals to his name this season, two fewer than City’s top scorer Ilkay Gundogan, who hasn’t scored in his last five league appearances. Although Sterling hasn’t hit the heights of his last three seasons at the Etihad Stadium, he is still one of City’s most influential players and it is no surprise that Guardiola rests the 26-year-old before crucial European fixtures. The versatile forward has great acceleration, makes intelligent runs and has improved massively in front of goal, meaning he can play on either flank or down the middle.
Up against a Newcastle team with nothing to play for, Sterling and co could cause the Toon Army major problems. The Magpies looked destined for the drop a few months ago, but their form in their last six matches has saved their season. Draws against Spurs and Liverpool as well as victories against Burnley, West Ham and Leicester meant Steve Bruce’s men picked up 11 points from an available 18. But now they are safe, the Tyneside club could take their foot off the gas, in which case City may run riot at St James’ Park.
Jesse Lingard (vs Brighton)
West Ham are within touching distance of European football, an achievement that not even fans of the club saw coming. Most results went their way in Gameweek 35, besides their own as they lost 1-0 to Everton thanks to a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal. This weekend the Hammers have a simpler task on their hands, and they will be hoping that Jesse Lingard can make the difference.
The Manchester United loanee has been in scintillating form since arriving in East London, scoring nine goals and assisting another three in 13 appearances and must be included in our Fantasy Premier League captain picks for the week. After a disappointing few seasons at Old Trafford, the loan move to play under David Moyes could not have worked out better for the 28-year-old. Lingard is now in the frame to be in England’s Euro 2020 squad, and he may well get minutes off the bench due to his positive play style. The energy the midfielder brings has been a perfect fit into West Ham’s counter-attacking style, with his position behind Michail Antonio allowing him a lot of freedom to drift around the centre of the park.
Up against Brighton, it will be West Ham’s direct, fast-paced playstyle that could make the difference. The Seagulls have been praised for their dominant, possession-based football this season. However, without Neal Maupay up front and Lewis Dunk in defence, as both were red carded against Wolves last weekend, that system could fall apart. The vacant spot of Maupay in the final third will be a big miss, so if Brighton’s midfielders don’t step up to convert the chances then they could be susceptible to several counter-attacking chances, spearheaded by Lingard.
Sadio Mane (vs West Brom)
Despite how poor they have been this season, Liverpool are still in with a shout of getting European football. They are currently sat in sixth, but if results go their way in the remaining fixtures then they may even squeeze into the Champions League positions. The form of their forwards is going to be crucial in the final few games, and one man that applies to is Sadio Mane.
The Senegalese forward has scored two in his last three matches, and one more goal this season would take him to double figures for the campaign. It is no secret that Jurgen Klopp’s team have not hit the heights they did in their 2019/20 title win, may that be for one reason or another, and it has underlined that they do not have the strength in depth needed to compete with City. Mane is one player who has struggled due to this. His service from midfield has been poor, the Reds’ defensive frailties have meant their fullbacks, Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, have had to sit deeper, and overall it has left Mane open to criticism for his lack of goalscoring contributions. But even with poor service, the former Southampton winger shouldn’t struggle against relegated West Brom.
The Baggies have taken the crown of being the first team unable to be saved from relegation by Sam Allardyce, and even the idea of playing for pride wouldn’t spark any hope into the hearts of West Brom fans. The West Midlands club have conceded the most penalties this season (nine), concede the most goals per game on average in the league (1.9) and have kept the second-least clean sheets this season (six). So, with that in mind, it is hard not to see Liverpool being triumphant in Gameweek 36, and Mane could be a smart inclusion in our Fantasy Premier League captain picks.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (vs Sheffield United)
On May the 25th, Gareth Southgate will be unveiling his 25-man squad for Euro 2020. For Everton fans, all eyes will be on whether their three hopes get into the team: Jordan Pickford, Ben Godfrey and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. It is the latter of the three that caps off this week’s Fantasy Premier League captain picks.
The target man scored his sixteenth of the campaign against West Ham in Gameweek 35, slotting a composed finish past the onrushing Lukasz Fabianski. His strength and aerial presence has been highlighted as one of the key reasons why DCL should be included in the Three Lions set-up, offering something different in the final third compared to the likes of Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford. The former Sheffield United frontman has averaged a goal every 157 minutes and has marginally overachieved his expected goals this season too (15.03). But both of these stats don’t do justice to how important he has been for the Toffees this season by holding the ball up and bringing the wide players into play.
If Calvert-Lewin wants to secure his spot on the plane in the summer then he will need to impress against his former club. The Blades sit rock bottom of the Premier League and have looked relegation certainties since the early stages of this campaign. Defensively they have looked incredibly shaky and their willingness to attack quickly and in numbers has wilted away too, especially since the departure of Chris Wilder. In what looks like a week where top players could be rested in the run-up to cup finals and crucial games, captaining DCL should offer a fruitful return for managers putting faith in the 24-year-old.
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