WITH A FRIDAY (7PM UK) DEADLINE THIS WEEK, IT’S TIME TO MAKE OUR CAPTAIN DECISIONS FOR THE FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK. IN THIS ARTICLE, I TAKE A LOOK AT MY TOP 3 PICKS FOR THIS WEEK.
1. HARRY KANE (VS CAR H)
In last week’s article, I remarked how the Kane train usually starts slowly, but then mows everything and everyone in sight once it takes off. It was in its warm-up phase before last week – but it’s well and truly hit full steam now. With 3 goals in his last 2 matches, taking 8 shots, doubts about Kane’s fitness and form have well and truly been dispelled. And we all know how if it isn’t famine, it will be a feast for Kane.
Last season, it took Kane 3 games to start scoring – but then he went on to score 8 in his next 6. In 16/17, it took him 3 games to start scoring, before he scored 7 in his next 6. In 15/16, he scored 1 (offside goal) in his first 9 before 7 in the subsequent 4. Once Kane is in top gear, there’s simply no stopping him. Despite the absence of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, Kane’s output should not be affected that much – replacements Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela are all in good form.
He perhaps has the best fixture possible too – Cardiff City at home. Unlike other bottom half teams, Cardiff and Neil Warnock have made it clear they will go for it against the big teams – instead of parking the bus, they’ll attack the big teams and see what happens. And so far what has happened is they’ve conceded a huge amount of goals – 3-2 against Arsenal, 4-1 against Chelsea and 5-0 against Man City. Still without a win this season, Cardiff’s 16 goals conceded so far is the league highest.
With 3 of the top 4 owned attackers taking on each other this week, it’s for the first time this season that someone with just 31.6% ownership is the runaway captain pick for the week. It may be a fantastic opportunity before the international break.
2. EDEN HAZARD (VS SOU A)
Perhaps the most-captained player for this week will instead be Eden Hazard. A man reborn under Maurizio Sarri, Hazard has been scoring goals left, right and center – quite literally. 6 goals and 52 points in his last 5 games, Hazard is indeed the form man in the league at the moment. Everything Chelsea do seems to be going through the in-form Belgian.
While Kane offers a low floor but a high ceiling with his explosiveness, Hazard offers a higher floor with his monopoly on the bonus points. More often than not, a solitary assist can result in 8 points – a single goal a double-digit haul (penalty duties make this very feasible too), while Kane would usually need two attacking returns to match this. Unlike Kane, Hazard also got rest from European contentions in midweek – and will be fit and raring to go.
Up against Southampton, he will be looking forward to carry his form – the Saints are only narrowly adrift of the relegation zone. They have only kept one clean sheet since the opening day (against Palace – in a game where they conceded 20 shots), having conceded 7 goals in their last 3 matches.
With his rapidly bulging ownership now sitting at 43.7% – the third highest owned player in the game, Hazard is perhaps the safest pick for this week, ownership-wise.
3. ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE (VS FUL A) – DIFFERENTIAL PUNT
Three of the top 4 owned attackers facing each other this week – in a season that has been dominated by the template captain picks, this is the week to go for a differential. The standout differential for the week, for me, is Alexandre Lacazette. The French striker has returned in each of his last 5 matches, with 2 goals and 4 assists.
Since his reinstation into the starting lineup, Lacazette has played 90 minutes in all 4 games, while Aubameyang has been subbed off in each – which means Unai Emery’s main man may indeed have changed. Surprisingly, even Arsenal find themselves in top form for once – with an 8 game winning streak across competitions. And a majority of their attacks are going through Lacazette – he had a lot of chances against Watford, including a clear one-on-one which he was unlucky to not score with.
Opposition Fulham have failed to keep a single clean sheet so far, with their 16 goals conceded a tied league highest – the Londoners have only kept it down to one goal conceded just once, too. Fulham’s 17.4 shots conceded per game is the second highest in the league, only second to Burnley. Against an in-form Arsenal, it could be a long 90 mins for their defense.
At just 8.0% ownership, if you don’t own Kane, this could be the week for a differential.