H17 2017-09-06 Captain Choice

After an excruciating two week long hiatus from Fantasy Premier League, we're back. As the dust settles on the international break, it's that time again - captain picks.

1. Romelu Lukaku (vs Stoke away)
For the third time in 4 weeks - it's this man at the top, again. Despite Lukaku's disappointing 0 points against Leicester last Gameweek, he again presents a strong case. In a Gameweek with no outstanding options per se, it may be wise to just play it safe. The Belgian striker finds himself in a mammoth 58.3% of all teams, and there's a large proportion of those that will captain him. He is in good form, still - he scored 4 goals in 2 in the international break. This comes on top of the 3 goals in 3 games in the Premier League he has already scored.
Lukaku has managed an impressive 4.7 shots per game so far. With 2 key passes per game, he's also been an integral part in the build up for his team. Man Utd have been blitzing away teams so far, with 10 goals in 3 games. His opponents for Saturday, Stoke, also provide an opponent he'll fancy. Defensive talisman Ryan Shawcross has been ruled out for the Potters with a recurring back injury. In their only home game this season against Arsenal, they did keep a clean sheet, but it wasn't without fortune. They conceded a remarkable 18 shots that game, with Jack Butland being called into action 6 times. And without their captain, they will struggle to keep the fearsome United attack at bay.
In a Gameweek of uncertainties, Lukaku might just offer the safest option there is.

2. Roberto Firmino (vs Man City away)
Firmino has enjoyed a stellar start to the season, scoring 2 goals and assisting 2, en route to being joint top of the FPL points tally with 26 points. He has been a vital cog in the wheel for his club, who have scored 8 in 3, and picked up 7 points for themselves. The Brazilian played just over an hour's worth of football in the international break, which means he's well rested for this one. With 9 shots and 6 key passes in the 3 games thus far, there's a good chance he'll be involved in any scoring or assisting Liverpool do at the Etihad.
The opponent may seem tough on paper - Man City away - but in fact for Liverpool and Firmino, they may be the perfect opponent. Liverpool raise their game against the bigger sides. They showed last week too, when they absolutely blew Arsenal away. Last season, the Reds did not lose a single game against any of the top 5 sides, notching up 5 wins and 3 draws, along with 15 goals. They have also enjoyed a good time against Man City in particular. The last time Man City beat Liverpool was all the way back in August 2014. They have since shipped 11 goals in 5 games to the Merseyside club.
What makes things trickier for City is that their captain and defensive talisman, Vincent Kompany, missed a game for Belgium with an injury, and had to miss training today. With him as a doubt, Liverpool will be licking their lips. Last season, the City defense only looked solid near the end of the season when Kompany came back from his injury. It may be back to John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, a pairing that hasn't exactly worked out for the best in the past. The other 3 players in their back 5 are new signings as well - Ederson, Walker and Mendy, which means it will be a defense that hasn't gelled at all. Liverpool have managed the most shots in the league so far. With Firmino on penalty duties too, he could be a great alternative choice.

3. Alvaro Morata (vs Leicester away)
Rounding off the top 3 is Chelsea's Alvaro Morata. Morata has also grabbed 2 goals and 2 assists so far, despite only starting twice. With 24 points, he's second in the forwards so far. He built upon his form for club with country, netting twice in Spain's win over Liechtenstein. He has been a key part of his club's revival after an opening day defeat to Burnley. The Spaniard has created 5 chances and taken 9 shots so far, and has been an all-round package. He will also benefit from the return of Eden Hazard, whose service will do the striker a world of good.
His opponents, Leicester, have looked porous too. On the opening day, they let in 4 to Arsenal, as their defense was thoroughly exposed. Last GW too, Man Utd cut apart their defense at will, with 22 shots. Morata could be a decent pick, keeping this in mind.

4. Alexandre Lacazette (vs Bournemouth home) - Differential Punt
If you're not the kind of person who likes to play it safe, Lacazette could be your man. There's no way he doesn't start this week after what happened last week. Arsenal were resoundingly thumped 4-0, and Arsene Wenger doesn't spend £52m on players to regularly bench them. The Frenchman will be back in the lineup, hungry to prove himself. And so will his club, and his manager. Wenger has always somehow come up with strong performances when the Wenger Out sentiment is on the rise. With their backs to the wall, I expect Arsenal to come out all guns blazing, like they always do.
Bournemouth, their opponents, will provide the Gunners with the ideal tonic. Having lost each of their first 3 games, there's not much going well for the south coast club. Their defense has looked extremely porous, having conceded a massive 18 shots per game so far - only better than Swansea and Burnley in the league. The Cherries have had their problems compounded with injuries. Captain Simon Francis is only just returning from an injury. Their big money signing in defense, Nathan Ake, is doubtful too. Asmir Begovic has had to make 16 saves so far - only Wayne Hennessey has been busier. Their past record against Arsenal doesn't evoke confidence too, with 10 goals conceded in their 4 league meetings.
Lacazette scored on his debut against Leicester, and had a goal incorrectly ruled out against Stoke, so he's in decent touch too. With 4 chances created in his 2 starts, he's also been setting others up. This could be the first game he starts alongside Arsenal's superstar Sanchez, someone whose service he will undoubtedly benefit from. If Arsenal get a penalty, he'll be there to bury it. If you want to steal a march in an uncertain Gameweek, the Frenchman could be the pick.

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