The Fantasy Premier League GW1 Captain – how do the new boys stack up against the tried and tested?
At the start of any new season, fantasy football managers are tasked with trying to gauge how well summer signings will fit in at their new clubs. This process is made even trickier if they are switching leagues and also expected to feature under different playing formations to that which they might have been accustomed to.
Now if you’re a regular follower of this column, you will know that we rate the leading armband contenders on a game round basis, factoring in their likely goals contribution (goals and assists) and those all important goal projections for the fixtures in question. So, with the arrival of 4 high profile stars at some of the Premier League giants, we have decided to include the quartet of Alexandre Lacazette, Álvaro Morata, Mohamed Salah and Sandro Ramirez to see how they would stack up against the usual suspects, if they were to replicate the same figures that they accomplished in their respective European leagues last season.
Favourable fixtures in Gameweek 1 sees all 4 featuring among the leading captaincy choices but let’s first assess the merits of the other leading contenders.
The Usual Suspects
Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez leads the way but there are huge question marks surrounding last season’s standout fantasy performer. Arsene Wenger is convinced that he will remain at the club but constant transfer speculation and the fact that he was given an extended summer break means that he might not be in the best shape, both mentally and physically, when the Gunners get the new season under way at the Emirates next Friday.
In stark contrast, Romelu Lukaku makes plenty of appeal but he will have to prove that he can handle the switch to Old Trafford, while Manchester City pair Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus will both be looking to hit the ground running.
Elsewhere, Harry Kane can not be underestimated. Even though he has a reputation for being a bit of a slow starter, his explosive finish to the 2016/17 campaign remains fresh in the mind and he is sure to have his backers.
The New Boys
On a strict interpretation, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette tops the ratings. However, a word of caution is advised due to the high proportion of penalty goals he scored in Ligue 1 last season as illustrated in the Oulala infographic below.
Lacazzete converted 10 of the 12 penalties he took in the French league but it’s highly unlikely that he would repeat such a feat during the 2017/18 Premier League campaign. Despite 106 penalties being awarded last season, equalling the highest figure set since the Premier League era began, Arsenal only accounted for 6 of these. Bournemouth, by the way, earned the most (10) but there is also no guarantee that Lacazette will be first choice spot-kick taker at the Emirates either.
The aforementioned Sánchez tucked away Arsenal’s last 2 Premier League penalties, having missed one earlier in the 2016/17 season and he might not be too keen on relinquishing the responsibility either, assuming that he remains at the club.
Once penalty goals are removed, the appeal of Lacazette’s stats diminishes substantially, as shown in the comparison with Olivier Giroud’s minutes per goal rate above.
Everton get their campaign under way against Stoke City at Goodison Park but have to follow that up with a brutal set of fixtures which should put the majority of managers off the promising Sandro Ramirez, while Mohammed Salah is sure to give a good account of himself in a Liverpool side that likes to share the goals and assists around.
However, Álvaro Morata is perhaps the most intriguing of the 4 newcomers. Competing with the fabled ‘BBC’ for game time at Real Madrid wasn’t easy, so there was no real surprise to see his playing time limited and he averaged only around 51 minutes per appearance.
This gives him tremendous upside and if he can prove his fitness early on and establish himself in Antonio Conte’s starting XI, he could take the Premier League by storm.
Sunday’s curtain raiser between Arsenal and Chelsea should offer more clues and fantasy football managers will be keen to see in want capacity Morata, Lacazette and Sánchez feature.
Selecting who has the honour of wearing your GW1 armband looks like being one of the toughest choices you will have to make – bring on the new season!