FPL 2021/22 Captain Article: Gameweek 2

We explore the best options for the Fantasy Premier League captain for Gameweek 2 and reveal the results of our captain poll – who will you choose this FPL Gameweek?

Article written by connect_andy.

Gameweek 1 Recap

So that’s it – Gameweek one has passed and we all have our first score on the board. Firstly, big congratulations to the many managers who entered the ‘100 club’ at the first attempt; definitely one of the more high scoring opening weeks in memory!

While the metric isn’t up and running until Gameweek five, our last article did suggest a toss up between Salah and Fernandes was the main captaincy decision in GW1. Salah, unsurprisingly, performed very well against Norwich and ended the game with two assists and a goal. A more than sufficient 34 points as an FPL captain.

However, Bruno Fernandes bettered the Egyptian with a well-taken hattrick against Leeds on Saturday; an opposition many expected to perform strongly in the opening match. United ran out 5-1 winners with Bruno playing a very advanced and influential role alongside Pogba and Greenwood.

For those who started the season with both Salah (12.5m) and Bruno (now 12.1m), you will have benefitted from having the two highest point scorers of the round. Yes, they are a premium cost, but assuming you captained Salah that would amount to 54 points towards your total. As you can see from the graphic above, they were in a league of their own in GW1!

Results of the Poll

Twitter captaincy poll for Gameweek 2 (@fplconnect)

Who are the main contenders?

Mo Salah (12.5m) – Liverpool v BURNLEY (H)

Salah GW1 attacking stats in Premier League 2021-22 (FFScout)

Liverpool started the season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Norwich, in which Mo Salah had a hand in all three goals. Salah’s goal meant that he had scored on the opening day of the PL season for the fifth time in a row; this hadn’t been achieved by any player before.

Admittedly we’re only looking at one data point, so don’t read into the stats too deeply, but the signs were good for the Egyptian midfielder. He ranked 1st for penalty box touches (14) and also 1st for big chances created (3) on the opening day; exactly the kind of form we’d like to see from the joint most expensive FPL asset this season. However, his xG of 0.21 from 5 attempts would suggest he took shots from areas with a low probability of scoring.

Liverpool face Burnley in their first home game of the season; the atmosphere created inside Anfield has been known to give Liverpool a competitive edge over the years. Burnley began their season with a 2-1 defeat to Brighton at Turf Moor – a result which may indicate a season of struggle given their continued lack of investment in the first team squad.

Brighton attempts map vs Burnley in GW1 (on target = green)

What we know about Burnley is they defend deep to reduce opportunities being created behind their defensive line. Burnley conceded the third highest number of shots from inside the area last season, which highlights their tendency to absorb pressure rather than press higher up the pitch. Against Brighton, 12/14 attempts conceded came from inside the penalty box, as did both of the goals.

Looking at the Brighton shot map (above) vs Burnley in GW1, you would imagine Salah will be in positions to take frequent attempts on the Burnley goal. Yes, he will need to find a way past a swarm of claret and blue, but chances will come. You only have to watch his goal against Norwich to see how he can find a way through a packed penalty area.

Bruno Fernandes (12.1m) – Man United vs SOUTHAMPTON (A)

Fernandes GW1 attacking stats in Premier League 2021-22  (FFScout)

A popular pre-season debate was whether to include Fernandes, 12.0m at the time, in our squads alongside Salah. With Kane absent, De Bruyne injured and Lukaku unavailable, many felt Fernandes was the way to go as he at least held a second premium slot ready to jump on another player in due course.

With three goals against Leeds on Saturday, not many would have expected Bruno to be the standout player of the opening round. If Man United continue to show this kind of form, it will be a very tough ask to ship out Fernandes for another premium before the fixtures turn around GW7.

Bruno’s stats from GW1 make interesting reading – he had just three touches in the opposition penalty box and took four attempts on his way to a hattrick, while an xA figure of just 0.04 suggests he did little to provide for his team mates. Whether this is a sign of things to come is unknown, as both Pogba and Sancho will likely share the creative workload when both on the pitch.

The fixture for Man United is very strong in Southampton, a team who were convincingly beaten 3-1 by Everton in GW1. The Saints have endured a tough pre-season, losing key players Ings (Aston Villa) and Vestergaard (Leicester) to rival PL clubs. Southampton conceded the 2nd highest xG of the gameweek (2.25, Fantasy Football Fix), highlighting some real issues in their defence early on in the season.

Fernandes once again provides a very viable captaincy option for GW2, despite over performing on his underlying stats against Leeds. He is a quality player in what appears to be a quality attacking side, playing against weaker opposition with little confidence.

Heung-Min Son (10.0m) – Spurs vs WOLVES (A)

Son GW1 attacking stats in Premier League 2021-22 (FFScout)

The final, and probably most differential captaincy option to discuss is Heung-Min Son. The fascinating element of the Son debate has always been how he performs with and without Kane. That debate has intensified this summer amid continued reports Kane is forcing a move out of the club, which still looks no closer to a resolution. The arrival of Nuno from Wolves as manager will also increase the intrigue around Son as an asset this season.

Despite Harry Kane being unavailable, Spurs executed a well prepared counter-attacking strategy against Man City on Sunday, recording a 1-0 victory. Son, acting as the focal point of the Spurs attack, managed five shots and scored the winning goal. If Kane leaves and Son continues to play so advanced, he could well be a strong captaincy option in the weeks ahead.

Spurs travel to Wolves in GW2, the former club of manager Nuno Espirito Santo, looking to continue their strong start. Whether Kane is included or not, Son should be heavily involved in Spurs attacking play as he has been for many years now. Perhaps not the best week to bet against Salah or Bruno for captaincy, but it is feasible that he performs strongly in this fixture.

My view

My decision to back Salah for captaincy in their game against Norwich was always going to be the correct decision. Even if he blanked, he was the standout option and the most sensible pick given nobody is playing catch up at this stage of the season. Admittedly, I didn’t foresee Bruno coming out with more points than Salah, but owning both was satisfying enough to avoid questioning my own judgement.

When I planned my captaincy picks for the opening weeks, Salah was always going to be my captain in GW1 & 2. Now we have one week’s worth of data, that stance has not changed. Yes, Bruno scored 20 points in GW1 and has a great fixture in Southampton, but the underlying data is still very inconclusive and certainly doesn’t provide enough ammo for a change in strategy.

My prediction for this week is that Liverpool will put on a show for the returning crowds at Anfield. We saw Liverpool struggle at home on numerous occasions last season, including against Burnley, where you felt the lack of atmosphere resonated on the pitch. There will be no excuses this weekend and I’m backing Salah to make the difference in what could be a very one-sided encounter.

Simon’s View (Founder of FPL Connect)

When considering the captaincy, another huge element that comes into it is the type of game; that is to say, the two styles of football employed by each team in the fixture. For example, Leeds attempt to play with plenty of energy, pressing aggressively throughout the match more or less and will push players up the field and commit bodies to the attack.

They will always build from the back and attempt to pass through their opponents if being pressed. Both of these tactics can leave them vulnerable if they are caught in possession, as they will leave spaces for the opposition attackers. They do this because they trust themselves enough to keep the ball well.

We see this with City as well, but on a higher level. But when City are caught out, there is so much space in transition and we have seen the damage the likes of Son and Vardy can do to them on the break. Burnley however, are a complete opposite to this in terms of style – we know this.

Typically, they defend deep, two banks of four and look to limit any space in behind. They won’t risk passing out often and will lump it forward to their 2 big strikers who have the physicality to retain possession. But even if they managed to retain possession successfully, they do not push up high, they will retain their structure and make it difficult for the opposition to find spaces in transition.

So when you compare the type of game Salah will have, versus the kind of game Bruno will have, they are likely to be very different, as Saints are the home team, and have a different play style to Burnley. One that involves higher pressing, passing out from the back and lots of energy, similar to Leeds.

Salah’s returns at Anfield v Burnley in the Premier League:

  • Liverpool 0-1 Burnley | 0 goals 0 assists (2nd half sub 57th min)
  • Liverpool 1-1 Burnley | 0 goals 0 assists (90 mins)
  • Liverpool 4-2 Burnley | 1 assist (90 mins)
  • Liverpool 1-1 Burnley | 1 goal (90 mins

We’ve seen that Burnley can frustrate attacking teams, and Liverpool are no exception to this, as evidenced above. The point here isn’t that Salah won’t get into the box and won’t get chances, it’s that the type of game won’t lend itself well to the way Liverpool and Salah typically play, as he will get a limited amount of space in dangerous areas to work with, so long as Burnley defend deep and they stay structured and focused.

When comparing that to Bruno’s match v Saints, the way that Southampton play under Hassenhuttl lends itself better to the way Man Utd and Bruno plays and as a result, it could be argued his potential to score high in this game is slightly higher than Salah in his game v Burnley.

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.

You can also join directly through this link.

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