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 FPL Gameweek?
Article written by connect_andy.
As the 2021/22 season fast approaches, FPL managers worldwide will be absorbing huge volumes of data and information to help select their squad for gameweek 1. If you listen carefully, you can probably hear the sound of thousands of drafts being torn up as each new piece of fitness, transfer and injury news begins to spread like wildfire.
The beauty of FPL is the extreme variety in process and strategy that leads each one of us to selecting our squad; the squad that we believe will score more points than any other. However, whether the plan is to go ‘big at the back’, or to stack the midfield, there is one element that needs to be at the epicentre of our strategy; captaincy.
Nailing your captaincy decision can make or break a gameweek, and potentially define your season when you look back on your choices collectively. While you may know your captain already for gameweek 1 – the (limited!) options will be explored in due course – have you considered your longer-term captain strategy?
For example, you may have selected a premium option like Mo Salah (12.5m) with a view to giving him the armband most weeks. However, in gameweek 3 Liverpool face Chelsea who have become a solid defensive unit under Tuchel, so Salah may not be the best choice for captaincy. In that scenario, do you have another option you can trust with the armband? It’s always worthwhile planning ahead so you have at least one strong captain option every week.
Results of the Poll
Captain Metric Returning Soon
If you were a reader of the captaincy metric article series last season, you will have become accustomed to the format in which the main captaincy contenders were ranked using a model (developed by @connect_andy) that considers individual form over the past five gameweeks and strength of the upcoming fixture.
Each new season brings a clean slate where data is concerned; changes in personnel, management and tactics over the break will make data from last season unreliable when trying to predict outcomes for GW1. Therefore, the captaincy metric element will commence in gameweek 5 once we have collected enough data from the early fixtures.
Worry not though, as I will still be exploring all the best captaincy options each week until the metric is up and running. Lets start by looking in more detail at the main captaincy options for GW1!
Who are the main contenders?
Mo Salah (12.5m) – Liverpool v NORWICH (A)
At the time of writing, Mo Salah has been selected by 50.3% of FPL teams and this will only increase as we get closer to the GW1 deadline. Salah, at times, was a frustrating asset to own last season, particularly when trusted with captaincy against supposedly ‘weak’ teams. However, he finished the season well with 22 goals and Liverpool looked much stronger as they put a string of victories together to finish in the Champions League places.
Liverpool kick off their Premier League campaign against Norwich, away at Carrow Road, on Saturday. Many will remember Liverpool also faced Norwich on the opening day of the 2019-20 season; Teemu Pukki got himself on the scoresheet for Norwich, but the Reds ran out comfortable winners in a game that signalled their intent to claim a comfortable title success that season.
Norwich return to the PL as champions of the Championship, having conceded just 36 goals in 46 league games; only Watford (30) conceded less. On that evidence, you may think the canaries have returned more defensively solid than their previous campaign, but that may not be the case.
Last season, Norwich conceded a total of 518 shot attempts (FBRef) which was greater than 12 other Championship clubs. This lead to a ‘goals per shot on target’ ratio of just 0.21; joint best in the division. Given the volume of shots they concede and the step up in quality they will now face, the signs are pretty ominous for the Norwich defence as they take on a quality attacking team in Liverpool.
With Salah having arguably the best fixture on paper, and having such high ownership, looking elsewhere could prove to be a gamble too far. Just ask those who didn’t captain him in GW1 last season!
Bruno Fernandes (12.0m) – Man United vs LEEDS (H)
Bruno Fernandes joined Man Utd in January 2020, where he was priced at 8.0m by FPL. In the short 18 month window to follow, he has been the top scoring player in FPL and now commands a very fair price of 12.0m this season. At the time of writing, he has been selected by a significant 48.6% of FPL teams.
Fernandes, who has a strong reputation as a penalty specialist, will be in the captaincy conversation more often than not this season as United look much more prepared for a title challenge. The signings of Varane and Sancho, coupled with Cavani signing on for a further year, look like very good business for the Manchester club.
How that affects Bruno as an FPL asset remains to be seen, as the Portuguese midfielder has had to carry the pressure of both creating and finishing chances in his short Man Utd career to date. You would imagine the introduction of Jadon Sancho will, in time, relieve the pressure on Bruno as the main attacking outlet; perhaps seeing the FPL points shared around more. Alternatively, Bruno may end up pushing into the box to become more of a goal threat with creativity alongside him.
This will all become clear in the opening weeks, and Man Utd face a tough test at home to Leeds on Saturday to kick off their 2021-22 campaign. Leeds were a superb addition to the PL last season having been promoted from the Championship after a long absence; their aggressive approach under Bielsa proved successful once they found their feet.
Against the ‘big clubs’, Leeds struggled in the first half of the season as they tried to impose themselves too strongly, but soon found a way of being more competitive in these games. In a tricky run of fixtures from March, Leeds managed draws against Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd, while picking up impressive victories against Man City and Spurs. They only conceded a total of three goals across these five fixtures.
Other Premiums Options?
Salah and Bruno aren’t the only premium options in the game, but they feel like the only viable captaincy candidates to begin with. Thanks to the Euros and Copa America, some players have returned to pre-season training later than others and are therefore either going to miss out or will begin a little fatigued.
A great example is Harry Kane (12.5m), who featured heavily for England on their way to the Euro 2020 final this summer. There seemed to be some controversy around his return to training, linked to his desire for a transfer to Man City, but it seems he will start the season with Spurs. However, their opening fixture, versus champions Man City, is as tough as they come. With doubts over his fitness, future and a difficult fixture, Kane is an avoid for captaincy this week.
Man City themselves are packed with fantastic attacking options, including recent signing Jack Grealish (8.0m) from Aston Villa. However, with Kevin De Bruyne (12.0m) and Raheem Sterling (11.0m) both injured and fatigued respectively, captaincy options for the champions seem rather thin. Riyad Mahrez (9.0m) would seem like the best candidate having been involved for the full pre-season schedule, but never try and second guess Pep’s selection!
At 10.5m, Leicester forward Jamie Vardy has come in very expensive this season considering his advancing years (turns 35 in January) and the fact he played second fiddle to strike partner Iheanacho for periods last season. However, Leicester begin their season against Wolves, now playing under new manager Bruno Lage, so should be considered strong favourites having recently defeated Man City in the Community Shield. Vardy, who could act as a temporary placeholder for the incoming Lukaku (Chelsea), could well reignite his FPL fire.
When it comes to captaincy, I simply can’t look past Mo Salah vs Norwich in GW1. It just feels like one of those weeks where you can switch off from the captaincy decision and worry about how the rest of your squad will be pieced together. As I eluded to earlier in the article, just be wary that you have sufficient captaincy cover for the first few weeks of the season if you have just gone with Salah as your only premium.
I must admit I am getting very excited for the season ahead and can’t wait for Brentford vs Arsenal on Friday evening. Having fans back in attendance, coupled with simultaneous fixtures on a Saturday, should make for a more pleasant FPL experience as the season goes on. Hopefully you are equally as excited as I am, and I wish you good luck in your FPL campaign!
More to come
We hope you enjoyed the article and hopefully it will help your planning ahead of the 2021/22 Fantasy Premier League season. We have plenty more lined up for pre season and will be publishing advice, team reveals and more strategy guides right up until the big kickoff.
Be sure to keep your eyes on the FPL Connect twitter page for all our latest releases, this season promises to be our biggest yet.
We’ve also launched our ‘custom mini-league’ site, a huge innovation on the current mini-league format. To celebrate, we’re organising a FREE TO ENTER £1,000 cash prize league. For more information see the graphic above and follow this link for details on how to enter.