It’s crunch time: As I write, we have only about 42 hours until the opening match of the 2021-22 English Premier season kicks off. Fantasy managers around the globe are finalizing their 15-man rosters and deciding which players to field and which players to bench.
But there is one more decision: Captain. It can make or break a game-week, so it’s crucial to place the armband wisely. To help you get it right, we’ve asked each NMA staffer to name the man who will captain his side for FPL GW-1.
Mo Salah — Liverpool has an enticing fixture against newly promoted Norwich, so the go-to fantasy option over the last few years should have ample opportunity to get in among the goals. Salah bagged himself a hattrick in last year’s opener against Leeds and could well do the same once again. Should Lukaku complete his transfer to Chelsea, he would be my 2nd choice.
It has to be Salah. There’s every chance that he will be outscored by other options (maybe even within his own club), but he will be the most heavily owned and captained player in the game in GW-1. He’s rested, on penalties, and has a lovely set of opening fixtures. There will be enough time to bang your head against a wall of indecision in the coming weeks. This isn’t one of those times.
Well this is repetitive, but Mo Salah. This one could be easy to overthink. I did a lot of point-chasing last season. I’m committed to picking the best player with the best match up. Simple. This week the best player with the best matchup is Salah. Norwich also have two key midfielders with injury concerns. If you’re still questioning, read this How to Win at FPL... again.
Salah faces a promoted team trying to settle in some new faces despite a preseason disrupted by Covid. I’m expecting Norwich to approach this less gung ho than two years ago, though the return of home fan support may raise their levels early on. Liverpool's big names have had better preseason preparation than most, which should help.
Sorry (not sorry), it’s Salah for me as well. Going back to 2011, Liverpool and Norwich have faced off 10 times in the EPL. The Reds won eight of those and drew the other two, scoring 30 goals, an easy average of three per.
You may say, “This one’s away from Anfield...” but in their past five trips to Carrow Road, the Reds have emerged victorious every time, scoring 17 goals (an even better 3.4 gpg), netting at least three goals on four of those occasions and five goals twice. Liverpool should score goals goals goals, and when the Reds explode, their Pharaoh superstar is usually involved. (Note: Game score stats via 11v11.com)
Diogo Jota: The Portuguese seems to be set to partner with Salah and Sadio Mane up front for Liverpool this season. The goals were distributed evenly among the strikers, including Japanese youngster (not so young anymore) Takumi Minamino and Firminio. I believe this is the big breakthrough season for Jota. With Liverpool visiting Norwich, he should play a part in a couple if not three goals scoring or assisting.
I would agree with the majority here, it has to be Mo Salah. Back in 2019, when Liverpool faced Norwich, they started their Premier League season by demolishing the newly-promoted 4-1 at Anfield. Of course, Salah was among the goalscorers and before this game, the Egyptian international also scored in the Red’s first Premier League match in each of the last three seasons (2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20). I believe, he did the same last year from a penalty spot against Leeds in their opener. Salah is a no-brainer.
Selecting Salah as captain is a no-brainer as Liverpool face newly promoted side Norwich. Having lost out on the golden boot last season to Harry Kane, Salah will be motivated to begin the new season with a bang. Salah will also be encouraged by the fact that Norwich City Conceded a staggering 75 goals the last time they were in the Premier League. It would be unwise to bet against Salah as everything points to a Salah master-class in the league opener.
Well clearly Salah is the majority choice — I currently have him as captain too, but am wondering whether it’s a good choice to pick someone against a newly-promoted side since they often punch above their weight for the first few games. So I am considering going with a Chelsea player, probably Mount, or possibly a defender.
Make no mistake here, Salah is the best captain option for GW-1. The Egyptian has scored 8+ in each of his opening premier league fixtures since the 2017-18 season, including a 12-point haul against his current opponents Norwich in 2019-20 (as Ali already pointed out). The Liverpool winger has consistently started well, and the Reds’ easy initial fixture sequence will see Salah extend his good start — he’s the best captain for five of the first seven games weeks! History is on Salah’s side and so am I!
Yet another vote for Salah here. Saturday’s NOR v LIV match is a repeat of the opening fixture of the 2019-20 season, when ‘Pool demolished Norwich 4-1 and Salah bagged a goal plus an assist. And in last season’s opener, Salah notched a hattrick. So we know the Egyptian tends to get off the mark quickly, and there’s every reason to think he’ll do that again against a Daniel Farke side that typically plays an open brand of football.
Drafted into almost 50% of all FPL squads, Salah is the second-most selected player, and you can bet that the majority of his owners will captain him this week. That means he won’t hurt you too badly if he fails. But if you slip the armband on someone else and Salah blows up, you’ll probably be chasing the pack until Christmas.
Also see NMA’s comprehensive collection of preseason reviews and fantasy management resources!
Are you still wrestling with your squad? Still struggling to settle on your starters? Whom will you captain this week? Please take our poll, and then share your plans in the comments below.
Will Mo Salah be your GW-1 captain?
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