FPL 2021/22 Captain Article: Gameweek 5

We explore the best options for the Fantasy Premier League captain for Gameweek 5 and reveal the results of our captain poll – who will you choose this FPL Gameweek?

Article written by connect_andy.

Premium Power

The re-introduction of Ronaldo (12.6m) to FPL during the international break gave plenty of time for the masses to find a way of bringing him in for his debut against Newcastle at Old Trafford last Saturday. In what was a great fixture on paper, he didn’t disappoint in scoring two goals and taking all three bonus points.

It was a similar story for Chelsea’s Lukaku (11.6m), who also netted twice versus Villa to score his first goals at Stamford Bridge following 14 unsuccessful attempts. The debate before GW4 was which forward of the two we should have, but now there are increasing calls for owning both given their performances.

Spare a thought for anyone who captained Antonio (7.9m) in GW4 – a perfectly legitimate option by the way – who was red carded and picked up -1 FPL points. Other expensive options like Salah, Bruno, Mane & Aubameyang all found the net at the weekend.

Results of the Poll

Twitter captaincy poll for Gameweek 4 (@fplconnect)

Nothing controversial about the results of the poll this week; Salah (12.5m) has the best fixture on paper which makes him likely to be the most popular captaincy option among FPL managers this week. Alexander-Arnold (7.5m) is also a name cropping up as an intriguing alternative to these three options following his second 10+ point haul of the season on Sunday.

Teams Attacking Strongly

We’re now four weeks into the season which means we can begin to assess which teams are looking strong from an attacking perspective. Ignoring opposition for now, FPL managers should be looking to place captaincy on a player in a team that can create plenty of attacking opportunities.

‘Per 90’ attacking records for each team between GWs 1-4 (FF Fix)

The two teams who have posed the most attacking threat so far have been Man City & Liverpool. Liverpool have been the more trigger happy, taking an average of 25 shots per game, with 18.3 per game coming inside the box. This bodes well for Liverpool’s attacking players who all like to drive into the area and take shots; the strategy is working well so far.

Man City have been shooting a little less frequently than Liverpool, but the quality of their efforts is better. They have the highest xG per 90 in the league (2.68) from fewer attempts, scoring more goals in the process. Man City have been sharing the scoring opportunities this season which isn’t ideal from an FPL perspective.

West Ham & Wolves probably fall into the next category down; taking more shots and building higher xG than the other clubs in the league. Whether this is sustainable remains to be seen, considering Wolves have only scored two goals so far.

Teams to Target?

A handful of teams are starting to emerge as potential whipping boys; unsurprisingly Norwich have started the season poorly at the back, while Leeds can’t seem to contain teams. Both clubs now have an opportunity to turn this around after a tough start, in what will likely be a defining period in their seasons.

‘Per 90’ defensive records for each team between GWs 1-4 (FF Fix)

Leicester’s injury troubles at the back seem to have prevented them from providing consistency just yet, no team has conceded more shots in the box per 90 (13.3) than the foxes. Aside from the game versus West Ham, in which they played with 10 men for 50 minutes, they haven’t been shipping many goals.

The team that has arguably been the worst defensively so far is Newcastle, who are conceding a huge 2.77 xG per game, at an average of 3 goals. Given three of their games have been against West Ham, Aston Villa and Southampton, their fixtures haven’t even been that difficult. This should be a huge boost for Leeds who play Newcastle on Friday night.

Who are the main contenders?

Per90 stats for captaincy contenders between gameweeks 1-4 (Source: FF Scout)

Looking at the stand out individuals, the Liverpool pair of Salah & Mane (11.9m) have been on fire so far this season. Mane is massively underperforming his xG having scored just 0.5 from 0.91 xG per 90 minutes. He is shooting more frequently than the other captaincy options and takes 9.3 penalty box touches per game, marginally behind Salah.

Lukaku is also looking in strong form, scoring an average of one goal from an xG of 0.78 per 90 minutes. Like many of these forward options, he enjoys shooting frequently which makes him very appealing as the focal point in a strong attacking side.

Captaincy Options in Focus

Based on both form and fixture data, we have narrowed the options down to three players for GW5 captaincy.

Mo Salah (12.5m) – Liverpool vs PALACE (H)

Salah GW1-4 attacking stats in Premier League 2021-22 (FFScout)

Mo Salah continues to prove what a consistent FPL asset he can be, and should be disappointed he didn’t score more against Leeds on Sunday. His underlying stats, as usual, have been very strong; appearing in the top three for most of the key indicators. He is currently ranked 1st for most penalty box touches (43), which is very impressive for a midfielder in FPL.

With Liverpool playing the way they are, chances will continue to fall for the Egyptian midfielder as they have done in these early weeks. The fixtures have been relatively kind to them so far, as were Chelsea by playing 45 minutes with 10 men at Anfield in GW3, but they struggled in some of the easier games last season.

Liverpool face Crystal Palace at Anfield this weekend; a fixture they should be winning. Whether another demolition job on the Eagles will happen is unlikely given how well Palace have started the season defensively. Their recruitment has been strong all over the pitch and the team appear to be gelling well considering their limited time together as a group.

Given Liverpool are at home and have been looking unstoppable going forward so far, Salah should make a very strong captaincy option this week despite playing against an opposition who look well organised.

Romelu Lukaku (11.6m) – Chelsea v SPURS (A)

Lukaku GW1-4 attacking stats in Premier League 2021-22 (FFScout)

Based on the evidence so far, Lukaku appears to be the answer to Chelsea’s goal scoring problems that blighted them last season. Strong, quick and clinical; not many defences will be able to handle the Belgian forward this season.

Chelsea now face Spurs in a London derby this weekend; a team who hadn’t conceded in three but then shipped three to Crystal Palace. Defensively Spurs have been fortunate to concede so few in the opening games, having allowed an average of 17.5 shots per game. With Dier injured and Tanganga suspended this weekend, more enforced changes at the back for Spurs should be problematic for them.

For those reasons, and the fact that Lukaku is in great form, Spurs should struggle to hold back Chelsea this weekend. Lukaku will no doubt attempt to bully whoever lines up at the back for Spurs, and it would be surprising if they were able to stop him. Definitely a viable captaincy option again this week.

Cristiano Ronaldo (12.6m) – Man United vs WEST HAM (A)

Ronaldo announced himself in style at the weekend, netting two goals against a struggling Newcastle side. Some generous goalkeeping helped him off the mark at a time when Newcastle looked tough to expose, and the opportunities opened up from there. Another goal in the Champions League on Tuesday added further ammo to the argument that Ronaldo will continue to score goals at this level for a good while yet.

A tougher encounter will be in store this weekend against West Ham for Man United and Ronaldo. The Hammers, who will be without talismanic striker Antonio for the game, will likely be more focussed on defence in the knowledge they possess less threat at the other end of the pitch.

What we do know is that Man United will look to seek Ronaldo at any opportunity. Most of his work will be in and around the box, which is gold from an FPL captaincy perspective. Salah will probably be the most popular option this week, but Ronaldo will definitely be in the conversation again.

My view

It was all about the premiums in GW4 with Salah, Ronaldo & Lukaku scoring, and it could be a similar story again in GW5. In reality, there probably isn’t an awful lot between them but Salah edges the underlying data and has the home fixture this week. All three started Champions League games this week so there’s no advantage of a rest either.

Another factor that may enter the captaincy conversation is ownership. Take a look at the three below (as of Thursday 16/09):

Salah 54.5%

Ronaldo 39.8%

Lukaku 28.1%

If the twitter poll result is in any way a reflection of how the majority of players navigate GW5, then backing against Salah should be considered a huge risk. It doesn’t automatically suggest he is the best captaincy option this week, but definitely the one that can hurt you the most if you look elsewhere.

Personally, I’ll be going with Salah for the armband this week. Liverpool and Man City are by far the best attacking teams at the moment so it makes sense to try and target them for captaincy. Given City rotate heavily in their forward area, they are an avoid for now but the return of De Bruyne may change that thought process down the line.

Although Palace won’t be a pushover this weekend, Liverpool (and Salah) will benefit from a home fixture this weekend. When fans are inside the stadium, we know how strong their record is at Anfield in years gone by. There are certainly no guarantees but Salah does feel like the most sensible captaincy option this week.

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.

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