The painstakingly long first international break is finally over – it’s time for Premier League action, which means it’s also time to select our Fantasy captains. Here, I take a look at my top 3 picks for the week.
1. Sergio Aguero (vs FUL H)
Although Aguero might have disappointed his hordes of captainers against Newcastle, the stats still very much point towards the Argentine being the best captain choice. With Gabriel Jesus only returning late from his international duty in South America, Aguero, who was rested and should be fit and firing after the break, will likely lead the line alone for City.
There are fewer propositions more dangerous than Aguero at the Etihad – it’s a completely different behemoth to the away Aguero. Over his last 17 home league appearances, Aguero has 18 goals – it’s a meagre 6 in 12 away. And when Aguero fires, it’s usually big – since the start of the last season, he’s scored in 14 games – 7 of them have yielded a double-digit score. It’s the explosiveness which makes Aguero a bonafide pick over others, with a 20-point-haul never far.
He will also relish the fixture, in Fulham. He loves a promoted side too – over the last 3 seasons, he’s scored 11 goals and assisted 1 in 10 fixtures against the newly promoted sides of the season. Although Fulham invested impressively over the transfer window, their defense is still quite a leaky faucet. Their 9 goals conceded is the second highest in the league, while they have given up a massive average of 20 shots per game away, while City have hit 28 a game at home, the league highest. Fulham have also given up the most shots in the box in the league – Aguero has hit the most for a player.
With a burgeoning ownership – up to a gigantic 52.5%, as the highest owned player in the game now – Aguero will again be the most-captained player, and by far the safest play this week.
2. Eden Hazard (vs CAR H)
It almost seems as if Hazard has had a reboot over the summer, and we’re being treated to an Eden Hazard 2.0 – one with immensely increased output in terms of goals and assists. With 2 goals and 2 assists in the first 4 fixtures, Hazard has returned in every single fixture so far – with 2 goals in his first two starts. Away from the shackles of the defensive system of Antonio Conte, Hazard seems to be relishing the attacking system of Maurizio Sarri – as the heartbeat of the Chelsea side.
While Aguero represents the safe play in terms of ownership, Hazard represents the safe play in terms of point output – while Aguero is perhaps more likely to explode and return a huge haul, Hazard is likelier to at least return a middling haul. Such has been his monopoly over the Bonus Points System with his game – an assist usually means 8 points, while a solitary goal usually means 10, an equation made even simpler by the fact Hazard is on penalties. On the other hand, Aguero has to score and assist to be in consideration for a double-digit haul.
The fixture couldn’t be much better either – on paper at least, there are no better fixtures than Cardiff City at home. Unlike other bottom sides, Cardiff are unlikely to park the bus – Neil Warnock, last week, basically admitted that they were not good enough to park the bus against the top sides, which is why they went for it against Arsenal. He added to that thought this week, saying that they’ve earnt the “right to play against the top teams”, and added “But I don’t want to go there and not have a shot on target, we’ve got to have players at their best abilities to give them a game.” There’s sure to be goals in this one, and it’s likely to be from Chelsea.
With a 22% ownership, Hazard is somehow still far away from a template pick – he represents the middle ground between the dullard choice and an all-out punt.
3. Romelu Lukaku (vs WAT A)
If Fantasy managers had to describe Romelu Lukaku in two terms, they would almost certainly be “streaky” and “flat-track bully”. Lukaku has scored 44 Premier League goals over the last 3 seasons – 41 of them have come against the bottom 14 clubs, with 3 against the top 6. His propensity for streaks is also not lost – last season, he started off with 7 goals in the first 7 games. He then went on a run of 1 goal in 9 matches. At the back end of the season, he again went on a run of 3 goals and 2 assists over 5 games, preceded by 2 goals in 9.
And it certainly seems like Lukaku is ready to go on another streak – as the focal point of a rejuvenated Man Utd side. It looks like Jose Mourinho is finally ready to throw caution to the wind and have his side attack, as they’ve done over the last 2 games. Lukaku scored a brace against Burnley, and had the chances to notch up 5 – he’s now taken 10 shots over the last 2 games. He also warmed up well during the international break, with 3 goals in Belgium’s 2 fixtures over the break.
At 8.2% ownership, he represents the maverick pick for the week – this time last season, his ownership was almost 60%.