Fantasy Premier League managers ranked inside the top 10,000 are eyeing Sunday’s matches after a score of captaincy blanks on Saturday.
At this high level, Manchester City duo Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) and Ilkay Gündogan (£5.8m) were the most popular candidates for the armband ahead of an appealing home meeting with Sheffield United.
However, the two players scored just three points between them on Saturday afternoon, all of those coming from Gündogan while Sterling remained an unused substitute.
As you can see, 26.2% of the top 10k selected Sterling as their Gameweek 21 captain, more than any other option.
It is worth saying that his majority was about as slim as it gets with Gündogan running him close with the support of 25.3%.
Their failure to deliver points at the Etihad Stadium has set the top 10k for a seismic Sunday afternoon.
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) will be the key player, having soaked up 17.3% of the armbands in the upper echelon, the owners of which are sure to feel at ease at Gameweek 21’s half-way stage.
If the Egyptian produces a sizeable haul at West Ham United then we could see a big shift inside the top 10k. 17.3% backing is arguably small enough to result in large green arrows for his faithful followers.
And if Salah does blank for a sixth successive Premier League match, the poor displays by Sterling and Gündogan, as well as a lack of a clear captaincy leader, certainly take the pressure off.
The same goes for the 9.5% of top 10k managers who captained Son Heung-min (£9.8m) for a trip to Brighton.
The South Korean’s last away goal came in the Gameweek 13 win over Liverpool but if he does register a big score at the Amex Stadium then the same factors mentioned for Salah captainers could do wonders for his backers too.
An examination of the top 10k vice-captains also heaps the hype on Salah and Son.
The Egyptian is waiting in line to claim 24.5% of top 10k armbands in the even of a no-show, which we saw with Sterling on Saturday.
Son completes the top-two among top 10k vice-captains with a 15.0% share.
The potential for a top-10k reshaping in Gameweek 21 is best shown by the breakdown of effective ownership.
Bruno Fernandes (£11.4m) was the only player at that level to achieve over 100% in this department for the weekend’s fixtures with Salah (87.7%), Gündogan (84.4%) and Son (67.2%) all falling short.
And it is telling that João Cancelo (£6.0m), John Stones (£5.2m) and Sterling completed the top seven for top 10k effective ownership for Gameweek 21 but combined for a total of zero points against Sheffield United.
Furthermore, Stones and Cancelo are now the most-owned defenders in the top 10k after the Gameweek 21 deadline.
The centre-back was already a fixture at this level, his 62.% ownership actually dropping from 63.2% between the two most recent deadlines.
But this was the first week that Cancelo launched himself into the top-five most-popular top 10k defenders again. He was owned by less than 37.6% of these top-level managers for Gameweek 20, rising to 58.9% ownership for Gameweek 21 only to score zero points.
The top 10k appear to be losing their patience with Stuart Dallas (£4.8m), who has dropped out of the top-five popular defenders ahead of a trip to Leicester.
In midfield, Gündogan’s first blank since Gameweek 18 occurred just as his top 10k ownership spiked. He was only in 36.2% of their teams for the 14-point haul at West Bromwich Albion but became the third-most-popular top 10k midfielder (59.2%) for a three-point score against Sheffield United.
Unsurprisingly, the only other sizeable shifts are in the forward line that, due to injuries, has largely been in flux over recent Gameweeks.
Patrick Bamford (£6.6m) remains the most fashionable forward in the top 10k although his ownership has dropped from 83.5% to 72.3% between the two most recent deadlines.
Michail Antonio (£6.5m) has earned a top 10 ownership increase of five percentage points after his impressive display at Crystal Palace even though he faces Liverpool on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m) looks to have been the most popular replacement for Harry Kane (£11.2m) who, of course, was turned to as a replacement for Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) the week before.
The Spurs man was the third-most fashionable forward in the top 10k in Gameweek 20 with 53.7% ownership at that level.
Calvert-Lewin occupies that slot for Gameweek 21 and is now in 51.5% of top 10k squads.
Chip usage was relatively minimal for Gameweek 21.
As you can see, barely anyone touched the Triple Captain, Free Hit and Bench Boost buttons while just 1.9% of the top 10k played their second Wildcard.
That brings the total top-10k usage for the latter up to 35.2% for the season so far.
Thus far, 55.1% of the top 10k have used two chips in the second half of the campaign.
24.0% have used only one while 14.3% of managers at this level are one chip away from exhausting their supply.
It is worth considering the Wildcard squads among the top 10k for Gameweek 21 to get an idea of any emerging trends.
There is already some consideration for Chelsea players with 33.2% of the top 10k Wildcards selecting Ben Chilwell (£6.1m) for Gameweek 21 – someone who is yet to trouble the overall template at this level.
These Wildcarders are less fussed by Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) it seems. The West Ham right-back is owned by 49% of the top 10k for Gameweek 21 but is not among the top-five most-popular Wildcard defenders.
Son (73.2%) was chosen by more Wildcarding managers than Salah (64.2%) while Sterling (46.8%) looks a differential for those who pulled the trigger on a new squad considering just 34% of the top 10k managers own him for Gameweek 21.
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