The captaincy debate for Gameweek 22 may not be as simple as Fantasy Premier League managers are hoping.
Heading into the first round of action since the FA Cup third round, we now embark on the second half of the current campaign.
Every season, the January transfer window proves a major landmark for change and shifting templates.
For example, Southampton spent much of 2019/20 as whipping boys but they come into Gameweek 22 much improved at the back – perhaps the biggest issue with this week’s captaincy conundrum.
To help guide you to the right skipper for your team we will analyse the recent statistical form of each candidate and compare them with the defensive performances of their upcoming opponents.
As this article uses data from the Fantasy Football Scout Members Area, only those signed up either as a season-long, monthly or discounted Member will be able to access it in full.
Despite missing the last two Gameweeks, Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) has returned to the Captain Poll’s summit once again.
Just shy of 39% of you had voted for the Leicester City forward ahead of Southampton’s trip to the King Power Stadium.
The last time the two sides met saw Vardy bag a hat-trick and an assist in a 9-0 win and it appears that a large number of Fantasy managers are hoping for something similar.
It may feel like a while since Vardy truly rocked the Fantasy world but if we forget his last two absences, influenced by paternal duties and a subsequent injury, he is still a reliable option. Between Gameweeks 9 and 19 he started every match and blanked only once.
However, the chances of another 9-0 drubbing for Southampton do look unlikely. Their defence has improved of late, resulting in two clean sheets in their last four, one at Chelsea and the other at home against Spurs.
A long way off in the poll’s second place is Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne (£10.6m) who faces Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.
Despite a spirited EFL Cup semi-final first-leg performance against Leicester on Wednesday night, Dean Smith’s defence has been in recent Premier League displays.
In their last four outings, they have conceded three times on two occasions, while across their last three at home, Villa have let in an average of 2.3 per game.
De Bruyne himself has attacking returns in four of his last five, two of them double-digit returns.
It appears that the Belgian remains the most trustworthy asset in Manchester City ranks considering the rotation and patchy nature of some of his colleagues.
Sergio Aguero (£11.7m), with just one start and one goal since Gameweek 14 is the next most-popular among Pep Guardiola’s charges, backed by just 3.5% in the poll.
Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling (£11.8m), with two double-digit hauls but four blanks in his last seven, has the support of just 2.9%.
Marcus Rashford (£9.2m) looks set for third place in the vote, backed by 9.1% ahead of Manchester United’s meeting with Norwich City.
The Canaries have kept just one clean sheet since Gameweek 10 although have largely fared better on their travels than at home.
Each of their last three at Carrow Road has seen Norwich concede twice, but they have let in just one goal in each of their last three on the road.
Rashford is in good form at Old Trafford though, blanking there just once since Gameweek 4.
John Lundstram (£5.1m) has been considered an outside captain option by many this season but Gameweek 22 sees him get more support than usual.
5.1% of the voters are backing the Sheffield United man ahead of a meeting with West Ham.
The Hammers may have scored four times against a hapless Bournemouth last time out but it’s still early days in David Moyes’ second spell as manager.
Meanwhile, only Leicester (eight) have kept more clean sheets than Sheffield United (seven) this season.
Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) is the most fashionable captain option at Liverpool as they prepare to face Spurs, although the Egyptian is backed only by 3.9%.
Jose Mourinho has struggled to turn around the defensive fortunes in north London, conceding in all but one of his matches since taking charge – which could open the door for Salah and his colleague Sadio Mané (£12.3m).
The latter has accrued just 2.7% of the votes but has outscored Salah over the last three matches by 8.3 points per game to 5.3.
Tammy Abraham (£7.8m), Raúl Jiménez (£7.5m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m), Anthony Martial (£7.9m), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.9m) and Richarlison (£8.0m) are the only other options backed by more than 1%.
Player statistics – Last four matches
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