It’s time – the 2018/19 season beckons upon us, with the Friday evening kickoff at Old Trafford. And that only means one thing – Fantasy Premier League is back too. The captain decision is perhaps the single most important decision of a Fantasy week. Here, I take a look at the top 3 contenders for the armband this week.
1. Mohamed Salah (vs WHU H)
In 2017/18, we learnt three certainties in life – death, taxes and Mohamed Salah scoring. The Egyptian winger dazzled us with his sparkling consistency, yet volatile explosiveness, in conjunction. Salah scored or assisted in a remarkable 27 out of the 36 games he played, as his 303-point season broke all sorts of Fantasy records – etching his name into Fantasy Football history forever. With Liverpool having strengthened the support cast around Salah, there is little to suggest things will change this season – Fabinho and Naby Keita add steel and industriousness to their midfield.
Despite a disappointing World Cup, Salah has had a solid pre-season – he scored seconds after first coming on against Man City in his first game. With a largely full-strength Liverpool squad last week, Salah netted again in a 5-0 routing of Serie A runners-up, Napoli. Unlike rivals, Liverpool have most of their team back from World Cup duties – Salah’s partners-in-crime, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are back too, which bodes well for Liverpool’s attack as a whole.
The fixture, too, is excellent. West Ham United have made a raft of new signings – they will lack team cohesion, as they have oh so many times. Last season, West Ham conceded 42 away goals – 4 more than any other side in the league. They will take time to fit into Manuel Pellegrini’s philosophy, and Liverpool and Salah will fancy their chances. Last season, Liverpool won both their matches against West Ham 4-1 each. Salah scored 3 and assisted 1 against the Hammers.
Then, there is ownership to consider too – Salah is owned by 53.6% of the game. He will definitely be the most captained player in the game. If he scores, and you don’t have him, you could be left facing a big opening day mountain to climb. The safest pick for those who seek the least thrills.
2. Alexis Sanchez (vs LEI H) – Differential Punt
If you’re a thrill-seeker, this is the captaincy pick for you – the differential punt of the week. We’ve seen what Alexis Sanchez can do at his sizzling best – in 2016/17, he was the FPL top points scorer with 265 points, amassing 24 goals and 11 assists. Last season, he was only bedding in to Man Utd – but he showed glimpses of what he could do. This season could be the start of the storm, as Sanchez comes into his own at the Old Trafford. The Chilean certainly showed more than glimpses in pre-season – he scored and assisted against Real Madrid, and scored against Milan.
This was Sanchez’s first full pre-season of rest in the last 9 years – as Chile failed to qualify for the World Cup. Fit, rested and ready for action, expect big things from Sanchez this season. Man Utd might be missing Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba for the first week, but it is a blessing in disguise for Sanchez – a player who loves all the spotlight on him. With Marcus Rashford a late returnee, Sanchez is slated to start up front on his own against Leicester – increasing his prospects further. He will also take penalties and his share of free-kicks, and will be the main man for whatever Man Utd do.
The fixture is also a good omen for Sanchez – Leicester at home. The Foxes will be depleted in defense, missing star man Harry Maguire – and new signing Jonny Evans is an injury doubt. Jamie Vardy is another miss. It could be an away shellacking for the 2015/16 champions, whose 38 goals conceded away last season was only second most to West Ham. Sanchez has a positive record against them too – scoring 4 goals in 6 appearances.
With only 9.2% ownership, Sanchez is a fantastic differential – if you want to risk it for the biscuit.
3. Sergio Aguero (vs ARS A)
The middle ground of the ultra-safe pick and a maverick differential – is all-time Fantasy legend Sergio Aguero. There had been doubts about his form, about his aging fitness, about his spot in the City side. But just as Aguero does best, he always dispels them into oblivion. After a premature exit from the World Cup with Argentina, where he barely got a look-in, the lethal striker showed his clinical best against Chelsea last week – scoring a brace, looking as sharp as he ever has.
The addition of Riyad Mahrez, a creator par excellence, will only aid Aguero’s cause. Gabriel Jesus’ late return from the World Cup means he will definitely line up alone, up top, against Arsenal. Arsenal away may not be the easiest of fixtures, but Pep Guardiola and Sergio Aguero seldom care about fixtures. In the first Premier League match in the post-Wenger era, an unsettled Arsenal side will take on a City side as settled as they can be. Man City have scored 10 goals in their last 5 visits to the Emirates Stadium – with a 3-0 win last season. Aguero has 8 goals and 2 assists in 14 meetings against Arsenal.
If City score, it’s likely Aguero will, too. At 29.3% ownership, he represents the middle point between an all-out punt and a boring, safe pick.