Today, we’re rolling out a new weekly regular which looks at the Captain Poll contenders in the Gameweek so far. Analysing form, fixtures and upcoming opponents of each of the main protagonists, we run through your favourites, with Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla the runaway leader ahead of Arsenal’s home clash with basement-dwellers QPR:
Over the eight Gameweeks to date, the Captain Poll leaders have averaged 7.3 points per appearance – just shy of 15 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) points per Gameweek if you handed them the armband. You’ve selected three lots of double figures – Michu (10 in Gameweek 2), Carlos Tevez (15 in Gameweek 3) and Robin Van Persie last weekend, with an 11 point haul against Stoke.
Intriguingly, the last five Gameweeks have seen Van Persie and Eden Hazard monopolise the Captain Poll. Since the start of Gameweek 4, the Dutchman has earned top spot three times, while the Belgian has been the favourite twice but with Chelsea and United squaring up at the Bridge on Sunday, neither are anywhere near the summit.
The Spaniard currently leads the way in the Captain Poll, with 23% of the votes cast ahead of a home showdown with QPR. Cazorla was handed the armband by many last time round but provided his owners with a four point captaincy return after Arsenal unexpectedly stumbled to defeat at Norwich. The former Malaga man has mainly excelled on the road – both his goals, two of his three assists and all five of his Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bonus points have been accrued away from the Emirates.
With just a single assist over his three home games – in the 6-1 Gameweek 4 mauling of Southampton – Cazorla has produced blanks against Sunderland and Chelsea in front of his own fans but with QPR conceding two or more goals in three of their four road trips, his owners will be confident of picking up the points after the Carrow Road disappointment last Saturday evening.
The Welshman sits in second place with 13% and heads off to former club Southampton this weekend. In terms of attacking output, Bale is similar to Cazorla, producing just one assist in four matches at the Lane this term but playing away clearly seems to suit him right now. The 9.5 priced FPL midfielder has produced double figures in each of his last two road trips; a goal and maximum bonus points harvested 11 points at Reading in Gameweek 4, whilst a 16 point haul at Old Trafford came courtesy of a goal, two assists and the maximum bonus.
Nigel Adkins’s side have been dire defensively, though have conceded half the number of goals at St Mary’s than they have on their travels (eight versus 16) but with Spurs scoring two or more in each of their last five, the odds are heavily against a home clean sheet. Let’s just hope Bale is available this time; he missed out against Chelsea, of course, with his partner due to give birth.
Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero
Tevez may have failed to score since Gameweek 3 but his stats have still been strong – he has either scored, assisted or picked up FPL bonus in all his seven starts this season. He has featured in the first XI in three of City’s four home matches, producing two goals, three assists and three bonus points over that quartet of fixtures – an average of 8.6 points per Etihad start or 6.75 per home appearance. The problem, then, is whether Roberto Mancini will hand him a first-team place – the one time Tevez has climbed off the bench this season (at home to Arsenal in Gameweek 5), he returned a single point.
Aguero, on the other hand, has mainly picked up the points regardless. With Champions League duties a clear factor in Mancini’s thinking, the former Atletico Madrid man has been handed a sub role in each of City’s last two – yet still managed to produce attacking returns in both those fixtures. Since returning from injury in Gameweek 5, Aguero has outscored Tevez in FPL by 18 to 17, despite featuring for a total of 62 minutes in the previous two matches. Many Fantasy managers’ decision could be swayed by Mancini’s Champions League line-up this evening but with Gameweek 9 opponents Swansea travelling to the Etihad on the back of a run of games which has seen them ship two or more goals in five of their last six, Tevez and Aguero – with 11% and 10% of votes cast respectively – could be primed for points.
Another armband contender, with 9% of votes, though it’s worth noting that Newcastle have scored a total of four goals in four home games so far. Ba has notched two of those strikes and has had a hand in seven of his side’s nine goals thus far – both his double figure returns have arrived away from St James’ Park. Nevertheless, Ba has accrued 22 FPL points over those four home games (9,2,9,2) with maximum bonus against Spurs and Norwich in Gameweeks 1 and 5. West Brom roll up to Tyneside having conceded in all of their three away trips and have a single clean sheet in their last five – if Alan Pardew’s side are to get the better of the Baggies, Ba looks a good bet to play a significant part, with spot-kick duties also likely to come his way.
Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney
Despite playing the full 90 minutes for United last night, Van Persie now has five-day break before Sunday’s trip to Chelsea. The Dutchman has lived up to the “Robin Reliant” tag since moving to Old Trafford – he has scored or assisted in all of his six league starts this term. He has averaged over eight points per away start, scoring (15,6,4) when fielded in Sir Alex Ferguson’s XI on the road and looks certain to begin the game at the Bridge. Chelsea have conceded just once in the last three in front of their own fans, though, and could provide a real test for Van Persie’s incredible consistency; he currently sits as low as fifth, with just 7% votes cast perhaps an indication of the Blues’ defensive resolve.
Rooney has just 2% of votes so far, despite returning double figures in each of his last two appearances. Since returning from injury in the second-half of the Gameweek 6 home defeat at Spurs, he has grabbed two goals, four assists and six bonus points; in spite of his new deep-lying role, Rooney has bettered Van Persie’s tally in each of the last two matches, though whether Ferguson continues with the diamond against Chelsea’s width on the flanks is perhaps debatable.
Dimitar Berbatov travels to the Madejski to face a Reading side that have yet to register a clean sheet all season. He has only started one away game for Fulham this term and returned eight FPL points in the Gameweek 5 trip to Wigan; the Bulgarian has 4% of the votes. Juan Mata’s phenomenal form makes him the most popular Chelsea contender. Since returning from a rest in Gameweek 5, he has produced three goals, five assists and six FPL bonus points, though Eden Hazard has averaged nine points per home game and should be on spot-kicks if Frank Lampard misses out with a calf problem; incredibly, he has just 1% of the votes so far.
Elsewhere, Peter Crouch has scored all three of Stoke’s home goals this season and welcomes Sunderland to the Britannia – the Potters man has just 2% of the votes, double that of Arouna Kone. The Ivorian is an intriguing option – he has had a hand in four of Wigan’s five home goals this season (two goals, two assists) and plays host to a West Ham side that have conceded in each of their last four matches.
Grant Holt has scored in each of his last three, against Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, and travels to Villa Park to face former Norwich boss Paul Lambert – Villa have one clean sheet all season, while Rickie Lambert is another to consider. He has averaged 6.5 points per home game this season and squares up to Spurs at St Mary’s; although he has started all four home matches, he was subbed off after the hour mark against Fulham in Gameweek 7.