FPL Captain Metric: Gameweek 1

We explore the best options for the Fantasy Premier League captain for Gameweek 1 and reveal the results of our captain poll – who will you choose this Gameweek?

BEFORE WE BEGIN: If you haven’t already seen, we released an article last year introducing the new ‘FPL Captain Metric’, which explains the concept fully and it can be viewed here >> https://fplconnect.blog/2018/08/07/the-captain-metric-explained-2/

IMPORTANT NOTE: Because it’s the start of the season and the metric is based purely on 5 previous GWs worth of relevant data, the metric is not included in this article as we want to make use of this season’s relevant data.

Our data analyst is working hard on enhancing the metric for the new season, so keep an eye out for an announcement about that!

Results of our poll

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: All underlying stats are taken from the last 5 GWs they played (post-lockdown).

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 63.5% of the votes

  • 14 penalty area touches.
  • 11 total goal attempts.
  • 9 goal attempts inside the box.
  • 3 chances created (0 big chances)
  • 3 big chances.
  • 3 goals.
  • 1 assist.

Mo Salah – 29% of the votes

  • 46 penalty area touches.
  • 22 total goal attempts.
  • 20 goal attempts inside the box.
  • 7 chances created (0 big chances)
  • 8 big chances.
  • 2 goals.
  • 2 assists.

Sadio Mané – 4.1% of the votes

  • 32 penalty area touches.
  • 12 total goal attempts.
  • 9 goal attempts inside the box.
  • 10 chances created (2 big chances)
  • 2 big chances.
  • 2 goals.
  • 0 assists.

Harry Kane

  • 17 penalty area touches
  • 13 total goal attempts.
  • 9 goal attempts inside the box.
  • 6 chances created (2 big chances)
  • 5 big chances.
  • 5 goals.
  • 2 assists.

Heung-Min Son

  • 11 penalty area touches
  • 9 total goal attempts.
  • 7 goal attempts inside the box.
  • 4 chances created (0 big chances)
  • 2 big chances.
  • 2 goals.
  • 1 assist.

Analysing the Candidates 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Fulham (A)

So we kick this off with the most popular of choices for the captaincy in the form of Arsenal’s prolific goalscorer, Mr Aubameyang!

With his terrifically taken goal and him scoring the winning penalty in Arsenal’s FA Community Shield penalty shootout victory over Liverpool still fresh in our mind, combined with Liverpool’s relatively lacklustre (by their high standards) end to their season, it’s no doubt Aubameyang is in high demand for the captaincy.

Screenshot taken from @rogue_wee‘s Twitter account

Some excellent work by @rogue_wee on Twitter displays each Premier League’s team defence rating built on the last 4 years of Premier League and Championship expected data.

Here we can see that Fulham sit top with the worst defensive rating. Combine that with how ruthless Aubameyang is (overperformed his xG by 7.25 goals) results in a very strong captaincy.

Mohamed Salah – Leeds (H)

As we can see above, Mo Salah’s post-lockdown underlying numbers were highly impressive.

Despite Liverpool wrapping up the league early, Salah’s motivation was not derailed in any way as he targeted the Golden Boot once more, firing in the most amount of goal attempts (34) of any player post-lockdown, an average of 4.25 shots a game.

Despite that, he underperformed his xG by 1.72 goals and wasn’t able to take enough of his chances to hit the Golden Boot again however, he did score 3 goals and bag himself 4 assists in those last 8 games he played, which puts him in strong form.

Leeds come up from the Championship boasting a very good defence, having conceded just 35 goals in their 46 games, which according to @rogue_wee‘s work, sees them as the strongest team, in terms of goal difference, of any promoted team in the last four years.

So this may not be an easy game for Liverpool and Salah. Having said that, of Salah’s 19 goals last season, 15 of them came at Anfield.

Sadio Mané – Leeds (H)

At just 13% ownership, at the time of writing, and with only 4.1% of votes on the poll, it seems Liverpool’s Senegalese International is being overlooked currently despite finishing just 12pts below Salah in the FPL standings.

It may be because Mané’s post-lockdown performances were much less convincing when compared to Salah however, if you watch a lot of Liverpool, you’ll notice he’s much less selfish than Salah, and often we’ve seen Mané cut a frustrated figure when Salah could have passed it to him but instead, chose to shoot and missed.

This tells me he may have taken down his motivation levels a few notches when Liverpool won the league, as we could assume, based on his games, body language and the fact he doesn’t openly talk about it (unlike Salah), that personal accolades may not be as big an interest to him as it is to Salah.

But we’re in a brand new season now. Motivational levels should be at their peak and it’s a level playing field and if we’re considering Salah so heavily, then Mané really should be in the conversation given he only produced 1 less goal contribution than Salah last season.

Other potential candidatesWerner, Kane/Son

Having come across from the Bundesliga with 28 goals and 8 assists, it’s only natural that Timo Werner is included in this conversation, as he starts with a relatively decent first PL game (on paper) against Brighton.

Brighton conceded 20 big chances and 14 goals in their 9 games since the restart, so their defensive form isn’t great going into the new season but they can prove awkward to beat on occasion.

Harry Kane hit some decent form toward the end of last season. Only Sterling (9 goals) and Antonio (8) scored more than Kane (7) post-lockdown.

Popular midfield choice Heung-Min Son (29% TSB) hit 2 goals and 3 assists since the restart and his ability to hit double-figure hauls makes him another option.

Both face an Everton side that only managed 3 wins in their 9 games in that period however, they did only concede 10 goals so it won’t be an easy one. Having said that, there may be attacking potential in this one, as the last 5 fixtures between the two sides have produced 19 goals!

Conclusion

It’s no surprise that Aubameyang would be a popular choice in GW1, given that Man United and Man City are both blanking, but what’s perhaps more surprising, is how dominant a choice he’s looking to be over the Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané.

Both have a home game against the newly promoted Leeds United. You would have assumed that Salah, in particular, would be a dominant favourite – but are we placing too great an emphasis on Liverpool’s unconvincing post-lockdown form? Or the fact that Leeds came up with an excellent defensive record in the Championship?

It’s possibly a combination of both and the fact we have Aubameyang’s brilliantly taken goal against Liverpool in the Community Shield, fresh in our minds.

I feel this is a slight skewing of the information we have and I feel it’s much closer in reality.

It’s a fresh start to the season and as a result, the players’ mindset will be completely different to how it was post-lockdown, meaning that any loose motivation from the Liverpool players should now be quashed.

If we also add in the comparative strength of the two sides last season, when they came up against the newly promoted sides in their respective H/A contexts we get:

Liverpool (H)

Sheffield United – won 2-0
Aston Villa – won 2-0
Norwich City – won 4-1

Arsenal (A)

Sheffield United – lost 1-0
Aston Villa – lost 1-0
Norwich City – drew 2-2

Important to note that Arteta was in charge for only Aston Villa, and he was behind the side that beat Sheffield United in the quarter-final of the FA Cup at Bramall Lane.

The general point is however, that Liverpool at home, are much stronger than Arsenal are away from home.

Having gone through all of the above, I still arrive at Aubameyang being the best choice, but I do believe there isn’t much between him and the Liverpool boys.

Given the popularity of the two main candidates, and the fact that we don’t know yet how well Werner will transition to the Premier League, I think it’s wise to go with one of Aubameyang/Salah from the off, as it’s a big uphill battle if one hauls big and you haven’t captained them and your choice fails.

If you don’t own any of Aubameyang/Salah/Mané, then I’d look to Werner as a captaincy punt and I wish you all the best with it!

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