Welcome back for another round of FPL captaincy debate, the final round this season!
Right, here we are, at the end of hands-down the most unorthodox, abnormal, unpredictable season of professional sports in at least a century. The function of this column is to present some cases for captaincy in a given round but I feel it only right to take a moment to recognize the many lives lost to this awful pandemic. I extend my condolences to friends and family who have lost someone to this virus. Some of you may have found it difficult to engage yourself in this game we play this season because of all the chaos that Covid-19 and the additional problems that have come with it. That is completely understandable. I can honestly tell you, there have been weeks along the way where I found it difficult to give this game the attention I would normally give unflinchingly. We can only hope better days are in store for us, and it appears things are heading in the right direction.
Well, good look delivering a smooth transition out of those opening remarks, Steve.
Hey, I can do this. How is this for a start - to me, no one failed at FPL this season. We only have winners. Those who have done poorly, you have an excuse - this has been the most unpredictable, difficult to plan for season in FPL history and it is not even close. Take this disappointing season of yours and chalk it up as an anomaly of historic proportions. However, if you are crushing it this year - there is nothing to take away from your accomplishment, either. You managed to do well in a turbulent season and you deserve full credit for your lofty position.
Hey, we all win this season, right? We endured. We persevered. We watched Sheffield United lose 1-0 to someone in an empty stadium at least a dozen times. That takes commitment, people. So, in my estimation, we all had a damn fine season.
Right. One more captain to pick. As you are about to find out, it’s “this guy or the highway” in this Week 38 edition of Captain Obvious...
Mo “This Guy” Salah (12.9m)
Rostered % - 42.1% (rising fast)
Total points - 225 (22 Gs, 5 As, 21 BPs)
Opponent - Crystal Palace
Let us keep this season’s last round of Captain Obvious simple. You are either going to captain Mo Salah or you are going to captain someone else because of “reasons”. If you are in the Salah camp, there are plenty of reasons to support the idea. He has form. Yes. he blanked against Burnley in midweek, but Liverpool still scored three goals, so the attack as a whole is clicking, and Salah did manage returns in the previous four games before the quiet return against the Clarets. You also have a motivation factor in play here, as Salah will be looking to win the race for the Golden Boot, as he is currently level with Harry Kane in that department. You finally have what is a good fixture - at home to Crystal Palace. Now, for much of this season, a home fixture has not carried as much weight as it did in previous seasons. Empty stadiums did not provide much of an advantage. But, there will be folks in the stands of Anfield this weekend. Palace have nothing to really play for on paper, but this will be Roy Hodgson’s final game in charge, so perhaps his players will put in maximum effort, but I seriously doubt that will outweigh the motivation Liverpool will be playing with. The early polling shows this to be one of the most lopsided captaincy rounds of the season. If you are not going with Salah, then you are taking a gigantic risk of ending your season on a red arrow.
The Case for Anyone Else - Well, Steve, you make it sound like picking anyone other than Salah would be foolish. Please, let me clarify. Many of you out there like to gamble. Many of you are just a few points shy of taking over your mini-league or finishing within a final rank target. You know your chances of following the herd with Salah will cancel itself out, making it all the more difficult to gain that last bit of ground you are looking for. Well, that’s when you roll the dice. And again, I cannot emphasize enough, after the season we have experienced, if you want the thrill of rolling that dice on whoever you have your mind on, you have my full support. All I can do is offer up some names that appeal to me as differentials to Salah.
First, I think it is best to look within the same club. Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Trent-Alexander Arnold and Andrew Robertson all have my blessing as a counter to Salah. They have all had their share of returns in recent weeks and any of these names could be the top fantasy pick from the Reds this weekend.
My next line of thinking is - I would really prefer a differential captain with a home game. As I mentioned before, I really do think this final day of the season, with ten clubs playing in front of fans for the first time in ages, the presence of supporters are really going to give the home side an advantage. Now, some fixtures look unappealing no matter how crowded it is, so I can toss those matches out of my thinking. That would include: Aston Villa v Chelsea, Leicester v Spurs, Wolves v Manchester United. I would also toss out matches where the home side simply hasn’t been good enough all season to merit a captaincy choice now. That would include Fulham v Newcastle and Sheffield United v Burnley. One final match I would eliminate from my thinking is Arsenal v Brighton. I have no confidence in predicting the outcome here, and even if I leaned Arsenal, I have no confidence picking which player is going to pop up this week to bag fantasy points. The Gunners haven’t had a steady fantasy option all season.
So, that leaves three games with three players I like as additional Salah differentials on the final day of the season.
Bamford is coming off a very productive game and here is a last chance in a home game with West Brom to rack up one more big haul. The Baggies’ best attacking player, Matheus Pereira, is in doubt. Should he miss out, I would imagine a ton of one-way traffic. If you feel strongly about Stuart Dallas or even Raphinha, there’s no shame in it. I just think Bamford is the strongest option of the three.
How can you turn your back on Jesse Lingard? This may be the pick for those that believed in him and brought him in early, reaping the rewards all along the way. I can tell you from my position, not buying into him early probably cost me 50k worth of rank, easy. West Ham are finishing up a very strong season with a home game against a side that can occasionally be ripped apart in Southampton.
Finally, there is Manchester City. Who will make the final XI? Well, we can figure out a couple of likely names that should be cemented into Sunday’s lineup. The one that speaks to me as a captaincy choice is good ol’ KDB. This is the absolute Hail Mary pick if you choose to go that way. He has not featured in seven of City’s last eight league games, but he is fully expected to make the XI this weekend and, with injuries and such being factored in, the Belgian could be playing in a more advanced role than usual. Again, with the addition of fan support, this time at the Etihad, I think City could throw up a cricket score and, if a fairy tale career were to have a fairly tale end for Sergio Agüero’s career at the club, he will come on late to score one last time, via a De Bruyne assist.
Hit me up on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles and let me know your thoughts on who you've nominated for captain and why. Good luck with your selection this weekend and may your final arrow be green.