Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Captain Picks Game-week 4.
So, here we are – this is the first game-week since the transfer window slammed shut. Highlights on the final days included Sideshow Bob – sorry David Luiz – surprisingly finding his way back to Chelsea, Loïc Rémy arriving at Crystal Palace, Nacer Chadli moving to the Hawthorns and Jack Wilshere going on loan to Bournemouth (a deal only struck on the proviso that the midfielder would have Cherries-branded crutches for the inevitable injuries).
Arsene Wenger also stopped playing his poker face and got Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Pérez to put pen to paper at the Emirates. The transfer window always leaves a mixture of emotions as people are left baffled, excited, frustrated, jealous or just depressed. One thing is for sure, it’ll be interesting to see how the players do in their new clubs and see if they’ll become fantasy football gold dust or fantasy disaster.
Anyway, looking ahead – as you always need to do in fantasy football – and we’re on to Game-week 4. It’s so early in the season and we’ve already been thrown into chaos, thanks to a certain Argentinian forward slipping an elbow in the direction of West Ham’s Winston Reid. Thanks, Mr Agüero.
At least it wasn’t a red card and three-point hit within the match, I guess – especially with how many people (myself included) who captained him thinking he would keep up the fantastic form. Of course, managers who captained Zlatan Ibrahimovic were also disappointed, as Manchester United managed to get the win against Hull in the final few minutes of the game, albeit from Marcus Rashford.
Let’s look at the five best contenders for the captain’s armband, then. First, though, I will just mention Hull midfielder Robert Snodgrass at the request of our very own Gallant Pioneer. Scoring three past the Maltese team in a 5-1 win that provisionally places Scotland above England in the group got him rather excited and, ahead of playing Burnley, I just couldn’t ignore his pleas to include Snodgrass in this article somewhere.
Harry Kane – Stoke (A)
It may come as a surprise to you that I am recommending Harry Kane, a player who has scored just nine points so far, has seen a drop in ownership of 580,000 on 22nd August to 504,000 on 28th August and is away this week. But, it’s Harry Kane!
Firstly, there’s Spurs’ opposition. Stoke have conceded six goals in three games, though four were admittedly away at Man City. Against the Lilywhites, the Potters’ record certainly isn’t great. They have lost four of their last seven games against the Londoners, with the most recent result being a 4-0 rout in April this year where Kane and Alli both scored twice.
The reverse fixture earlier that season also saw the ball find the back of the net four times, albeit a 2-2 result. There are usually goals aplenty when these two squads face each other. With support from a number of players, including the on-form Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen who scored in the international break, you wouldn’t put it past Harry Kane to break this rut and get his name on the scoresheet.
On the subject of Spurs, I now take you to an ex-Tottenham player you may like to consider…
Jermain Defoe – Everton (H)
Well, the last time Everton and Sunderland played each other, it was 11th May this year and the Black Cats came away as 3-0 victors, securing another season in the Premier League, sending down Norwich and Newcastle in one foul swoop.
Looking to the fixture this season, Jermain Defoe has 19 points to his name already, following goals against Man City and Southampton. Taking place as a Monday night fixture, the last roll of the dice for the game-week could therefore be your captain. So, do you feel lucky, Monday night lucky?!
Sunderland as a team have been quite busy in the recent transfer window and you have to say that it is praise indeed when a player describes joining your club as a “dream come true”. Yes, I mean Gabon International Didier Ndong, whose arrival broke the club’s transfer record. In him, Defoe should receive more service and therefore convert them into shots on target. Adnan Januzaj could also help Jermain’s cause. So early on in the season, it’s impossible to tell how Sunderland’s season will go, but Defoe will definitely be a big asset in the efforts of keeping the team in the top flight.
You could say the player could be looking to keep his ball skills in order in this fixture, with news emerging that he will be named in divorce proceedings as a guy claims the player stole his wife. Will it be a distraction or will it get him fired up to bang the ball in to the back of the net? Anyway, I digress with gossip.
Talking of interesting off-field antics…
Eden Hazard – Swansea (A)
There have been famous sports rivalries in the past. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Manchester United and Liverpool and, of course, Eden Hazard and Charlie Morgan, the Swansea ball boy who made a name for himself back in 2013. The latter, as I’m sure you remember, saw the ball boy time wasting, resulting in a ‘coming together’ with the Belgian midfielder on the sidelines. Sorry, I couldn’t resist bringing up that gem ahead of Swansea welcoming Chelsea to the Liberty Stadium.
It’s fair to say that it’s looking increasingly likely that Hazard is going to be back to full flow this time around, after the farcical time last season when he fell out with Jose Mourinho. With 25 points to his name, the Belgian has rewarded fantasy football managers who thought they’d take a punt on including him from day one. He is no doubt looking forward to playing a team who have lost two out of their three opening Premier League games and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got another respectable amount of points, especially when you consider the fact that Chelsea have scored 11 goals against the Swans since 13th September 2014.
Perhaps the boos of the Belgian fans as Hazard and Courtois walked off the pitch following the 2-0 loss to Spain will fire both of them up to returning to winning ways. It’s fair to say, with all due respect to Swansea, the opposition won’t be so difficult to break down this time, but there will be big expectations from the fans to make up for last season.
Talking of high expectations from fans, that leads me on to Arsenal…
Alexis Sanchez – Southampton (H)
Ah, Alexis. With five points to his name after two game-weeks, fantasy football managers were transferring him out in their droves. And then, Arsenal v Watford happened. Like Suarez loved to play against Norwich back when he used to play for Liverpool, Sanchez also loves to play against the Hornets – this time he walked away from Vicarage Road with 16 points to his name. Between 28th August and 4th September, 100,000 people – the population of Worcester, my home city – transferred him into their teams, no doubt with spare cash created from Aguero’s sale.
Looking ahead to this game-week, Arsenal face Southampton at home, a team who have had a rather disappointing start to the season and sit 15th in the table. Arsenal obviously won’t be happy about their eighth place in the Premier League as well and, with Fraser Forster unlikely to be the lucky goalkeeper charged with halting the Gunners’ efforts, you can’t look past the North Londoners in this.
With new signings, Santi Cazorla at full fitness and Ozil also back to playing over the crucial 60 minutes – and therefore making more of a difference to the game – this could be another cracker for the little Chilean. Just bear in mind that, in the Premier League at the Emirates, this fixture hasn’t provided much in the way of goals. In fact, the last time there were three or more goals in this fixture was when Arsenal won 6-1 all the way back in 2012.
Talking of 6-1 results, that leads me on to Old Trafford…
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Man City (H)
Like a really rubbish plot-line in a film, I expect you probably guessed the ending of this article, in me picking Zlatan, before you even finished reading the third paragraph. This is a huge match for the reds and I’m sure a lot of the Old Trafford faithful are feeling more confident about it now that Man City are without Agüero.
Looking at the head-to-head statistics, you appreciate it’s already almost five years since the famous 6-1 score line in favour of City. Yep, that long ago! Since then, at Old Trafford in the Premier League, it’s been two wins for City, one for United and a draw (1-2, 0-3, 4-2 and 0-0) – a rather mixed bag of results over a time that has also seen big changes at both clubs.
This is also representative of how close you expect this match to be, though. Man City are certainly the most formidable opposition out of all the teams the captains I’ve picked are playing. Both teams will be desperate to win this match, not just for the bragging rights in Manchester, but to have a springboard and look forward to the rest of the season. But who will get four wins out of four, or will it be another draw?
Anyway, back to the player. With 24 points to his name, Zlatan has been the first port of call for those shipping out Agüero and, as a result, his price sharply rose once the ban was confirmed. As mentioned, yes, this is going to be a close fixture – but you can’t look past this man’s form and his ability to get a goal when you are least expecting it.
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