And we’re back.
Another tedious break from FPL is behind us and we can now look forward to Gameweek 13 and no more irksome International fixtures until the end of March. It’s been a long time, but the decision for captaincy is as important as ever.
Rewinding back to Gameweek 12, I looked at the battle for captaincy between Vardy and Abraham. After much analysis, the findings backed the former, and he turned up for the occasion with a goal and assist versus Arsenal for a total of 12 points.
My differential punt in Anthony Martial also delivered. He lead the United line brilliantly versus Brighton and was unlucky not to contribute further, despite recording 10 points for his pair of assists and two bonus points.
This weekend, the fixtures loosen up compared to the previous set of fixtures and, as a result, so does the fight for the captain’s armband. Jamie Vardy is once again the favourite in the majority of polls, but there are other names who can compete for the burden of captaincy. Here are my thoughts.
Jamie Vardy (£9.6m)
Brighton vs Leicester City
Kasper Schmeichel might be the skipper, but Jamie Vardy is the face of Leicester City. Alongside Aubameyang, he is the only striker to have featured in every minute (1080) of Premier League action this season and is now the leading scorer with 11 goals.
A lot of people are in admiration that he’s achieved this despite facing Chelsea, Man United, Tottenham and Liverpool in the opening eight gameweeks. Although, in my opinion, Vardy is fixture proof and capable of having a higher involvement against this type of opposition.
He comes to life in matches where the play swings in the balance and is more likely to struggle, as he has done in the past, when facing a low block defence. Yes, I’m hearing the argument that he scored against the perfect example of this in Gameweek 11 vs. Crystal Palace, but if you watched the full 90 minutes, he was ineffective for 88 of those.
Arsenal was the ideal setup for him last gameweek, but as inviting as a fixture away to Brighton looks on Saturday, they will unquestionably be better prepared for Vardy and co. Graham Potter’s men have been in excellent form at the Amex recently, having kicked on after defeating Spurs 3-0 to register back-to-back home wins.
However, an untimely injury and suspension to regular centre-backs Webster and Dunk opens the door for goals from the away side. Vardy is one of the most assertive, aggressive strikers in world football and he will be licking his lips at the thought of a reshuffled backline which has been encouraged to adopt a play-out-from-the-back approach.
Harry Kane (£10.8m)
West Ham vs Tottenham
Is Mourinho and Harry Kane a match made in heaven? That’s the question, but unfortunately I can’t give you the answer. I saw something about him calling Kane ‘the best striker in the world’, but I’m sure every English pundit has that laminated on their wall already.
The ideal scenario for his FPL owners and Spurs fans is that the pair strike up a relationship comparable to Brendan Rodgers and Jamie Vardy at Leicester. He plays every minute and the squad is boosted by the new managerial arrival which, in turn, increases Kane’s likelihood of scoring.
As Tottenham experience the honeymoon period which coincides with a new manager, they travel to a stadium where tensions are running high. Manuel Pellegrini is under pressure as his side try to seal an unlikely victory to end a run of seven winless games in all competitions.
Unfortunately for them, Kane has a history of scoring braces in this fixture. Barring the 2018/19 season in which he missed one of the meetings with an injury, Kane scored a brace against West Ham in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18.
All of these goals came during the first meeting of the clubs in the campaign. Not a good thing to be reminded of as a non-Kane owner but, on the flip side, he blanked in the second fixture in each one of the seasons mentioned above. So we know they are at least capable of restraining him.
I can see Tottenham using this as a springboard to having a successful middle-quarter of the season. Their fixtures have turned, and as much as it pains us to see a quality manager swept aside by that little gremlin Levy, there’s an almost visible whiff of optimism surrounding the club.
Raheem Sterling (£12.0m)
Man City vs Chelsea
At the end of a gameweek I always set up my team for the next gameweek based on my gut feelings having seen how the weekend has panned out. Shortly after Gameweek 12 ended, I selected my starting XI and captained Sterling. It felt natural, even after two blanks in a row.
Chelsea at home is a fantastic fixture for Man City to bounce back from a disappointing draw with Atalanta, followed by the hammer blow of being conquered by Liverpool. Frank Lampard is finding his feet quickly in top flight management and his side’s away form is impressive.
Based on away form alone, Chelsea rank 2nd in the Premier League with 58% of their points coming on their travels this season. The worrying thing, often ignored in twitter threads etc., is their defensive form away from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are yet to keep a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League this season. They have conceded more than twice as many goals (12) than at home (5) and have the 6th worst expected clean sheets statistic (1.29).
Sterling’s form has dipped recently, but he’s still getting numerous chances in each and every game. He will want to show his maturity having reacted badly to City’s loss to Liverpool and with two goals and an assist in this fixture last season, Sterling is a solid choice for captaincy.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m)
Man City vs Chelsea
The City conductor has been pulling the strings in midfield all season for his club and country. There were doubts surrounding De Bruyne’s inclusion in the Belgium squad for their two recent qualifiers, but he ended up playing 158 minutes and contributing to five of their 10 goals.
If there’s a word to describe De Bruyne in FPL, it’s ‘involvement’. He ranks first in the Premier League for big chances created, final third passes, corners taken, successful crosses and has twice as many assists (10) as his closest competitor this season.
If you fancy Man City to expose Chelsea’s weaknesses in defence away from home, and Sterling to continue to squander the chances he WILL be presented with, then De Bruyne is a safe bet for a contribution with so many quality teammates to rely on putting the final touches on his creativeness. That’s if he doesn’t score himself, of course.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (£11.0m)
Arsenal vs Southampton
It’s surprising that an Arsenal player can have such support for the captain’s armband, taking into account their form and unreliability. They have failed to win in their last five fixtures in all competitions and have found the net just twice in their last three fixtures.
Aubameyang is an outstanding player, and has moments of being unstoppable regardless of how his team mates are performing. But are people overrating his potential based solely on the fixture?
Southampton have struggled to recover since Leicester City battered them 9-nil in Gameweek 10 with three defeats on the bounce and seven goals conceded since that embarrassment. However, like Chelsea, Southampton have performed better on the road this campaign.
They rank in 20th position in the ‘home table’ and 8th in the ‘away table’. They also have a lower expected goals conceded statistic than Man City on their travels and have secured both of their clean sheets away from home.
I do expect Arsenal to score at least once in this fixture, and Aubameyang is one of the top candidates according to the bookies odds to be converting this week, but gambling on which Arsenal will turn up is very risky. There are a lot of question marks: Has Emery lost the dressing room? Will Ozil play? Will Aubameyang even start up front?