It’s almost here. It’s almost like Christmas Eve for FPL players around the world. Though, our Christmas is less about gift giving and enjoying time with family, it’s more about getting a dodgy livestream of Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield because you’ve got Wilfried Zaha in your fantasy team.
Anyway, with Gameweek 1 upon us, it’s worth looking at the best captaincy choices for the opening week of the season.
Romelu Lukaku – West Ham (H)
At the top of the list for most FPL managers this week in terms of captaincy choices will be Man United’s £75m summer signing, Romelu Lukaku. One of Man United’s biggest issues last season was putting their chances away, especially against sides in the bottom half of the league. Their new #9 has been known to somewhat specialise in this, scoring plenty of goals at home against weaker sides for Everton.
United play West Ham at home to kick off the season, a fixture that Lukaku is pretty synonymous with. He’s scored more goals against West Ham than against any other team in his career, racking up 9 goals and 4 assists in 12 games against West Ham.
A big reason for slapping the armband on Lukaku this week would be his ownership. As of now, his ownership sits at 48.5%. Almost 50% of the 2.7 million live players have him in their teams, and quite a few of them will be captaining him this week.
It’ll be his Old Trafford debut, and United will likely be looking to redeem themselves after losing in the Super Cup against Real Madrid on Tuesday, taking out their frustrations on West Ham.
Harry Kane – Newcastle (A)
I know, another very safe pick, but one that really can’t be ignored. Harry Kane finished last season in unbelievable form scoring 7 goals in the final two games of the season against Leicester and Hull, helping him claim the golden boot with 29 goals. He was my captain for the final gameweek when he notched 4 goals, so I’m remaining loyal to the mouth breathing maestro.
Spurs open the season away at newly promoted Newcastle. It’s hard to judge a side new to the league, though looking at their form in the Championship last season, Newcastle only kept 8 clean sheets at home, losing 5 games, with the 4th best home record in the division.
With Sir Harold himself, the main thing people bring up when deliberating over whether to choose him from the start is him being a slow starter, having not scored in August. It’s worth noting that he’s had a proper preseason this time round, devoid of international tournaments or injuries, while also managing to score in a preseason friendly against Juventus at Wembley this month.
He’ll likely be the second top captaincy choice across all players this week considering that his ownership is currently 37.2%.
Kevin de Bruyne – Brighton (A)
A bit less of an obvious shout here would be Kevin de Bruyne, Man City’s ginger/strawberry blonde prince. De Bruyne finished last season with a respectable 6 goals, and a staggering 21 assists, leading the league in goals created and claiming 199 points in Pep’s first season as City boss.
City have been in outstanding form in preseason, with their two most recent results being 3-0 victories against Spurs and West Ham. In these games, City have played a 3-at-the-back system which saw De Bruyne pulling the strings, with him picking up 4 assists during preseason.
The extra man at the back provides a bit more freedom for Kev, while enjoying the movement of both Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up front; two fantastic captaincy shouts in their own right. If you fancy the differential shout from City’s attack, their ownership percentages are 13.2% and 10.4% respectively. Aguero as a differential is mad, isn’t it?
Anyway, City travel to Brighton for their opening fixture, the side who finished 1 point behind Newcastle last season in 2nd. Brighton actually had the best home record in the league with a record of 17-3-3 and a goal difference of +32, though Brighton weren’t up against De Bruyne, Jesus, Aguero and co last season.
City are looking to get off to a flyer as they did last season, where they won their opening 6 games, scoring 18 goals in the process. If they do fly out of the gates, De Bruyne will be at the heart of it..
Alexandre Lacazette – Leicester (H)
One of the biggest summer signings so far has been Arsenal’s signing of Alex Lacazette from Lyon, with the prayers of Arsenal fans around the world being answered as they’ve picked up a truly prolific goalscorer.
In Ligue 1, Lacazette has scored 28, 21, and 27 goals in the past three seasons respectively, with a near 1-in-2 ratio for Lyon during his time there, setting the bar quite high and getting Arsenal fans very excited.
He’ll have a fair bit of pressure on him to kick things off considering that Alexis Sanchez won’t be available for at least the opening two gameweeks due to injury. He may not be available for the subsequent 36 gameweeks depending on whether he buggers off to PSG or not, too. Ramsey and Ozil will also likely miss the opener due to injury, meaning that if Arsenal score, it’ll likely be through Lacazette.
He’s netted twice in preseason so far, and managed to hit the post against Chelsea in the Community Shield.
Arsenal welcome Leicester on the opening day, which is THIS FRIDAY. DON’T FORGET.
Leicester had a very odd season last time round, looking a completely different side to the one that won the league the year prior. Since Craig Shakespeare took over, things have turned around somewhat, and they’ve made some canny signings in the form of Iheanacho and Maguire. That being said, Arsenal will most likely put Leicester away, with Lacazette the leading captaincy option.
Wilfried Zaha – Huddersfield (H)
More of a differential shout for the armband this week would be Wilfried Zaha. Palace host playoff winners Huddersfield for their first fixture of the season, which is essentially as good as it gets.
Zaha – who was mentioned in the FPL midfield bargains article from last month – has been playing in a front three for Palace in preseason as they’ve seemingly switched to a 3-4-3 system. This gives him a lot more freedom, with him reportedly playing as almost a second striker behind Benteke – another solid captaincy shout.
He racked up 7 goals and 11 assists last season, by far his best return in the Premier League to date. In a more forward role, we can only hope for the same or even better this season.
Huddersfield are a bit of an odd one to predict this season. They finished 5th in the league, getting promoted through the playoffs even though they managed a -2 goal difference throughout the season. On the road, they managed 34 points from 23 games with a -10 goal difference, indicating that they didn’t travel particularly well, which bodes well for Wilf.
If you want to be really different, there are a few potential shouts out there for the armband. I would personally opt for a safer pick, but here are a few suggestions for those looking to stray from the norm:
Manolo Gabbiadini – Swansea (H): He let a lot of people down last season during the double gameweeks, but in his defence, he was coming back from an injury. After a proper preseason, a new manager, and an array of beautiful fixtures, Gabbiadini could pick up his form from when he first step foot in England.
Marcos Alonso – Burnley (H): A true hero of last season for many, Alonso has retained his place in the team after Juve refused to let go of Alex Sandro, with him kicking off the season against Burnley at home. Chelsea’s opponents have just lost Andre Gray – absolutely their biggest threat – making a clean sheet all the more likely. Alonso’s potential for attacking returns also can’t be sniffed at, with him scoring 6 times last season, essentially playing as a winger.