Monday, 16 December 2013

How Do You Solve A Problem Like...Who To Captain?

It is increasingly becoming evident that there is a golden rule to selecting your Captain this season. It goes as follows:

"If Liverpool are playing at home, captain Suarez. If they are playing away, captain Suarez"

So surely that is the end of this weeks article then? Captain Suarez. End of.

Not quite. Although following his exploits against Spurs in GW16 (22 points, or 44 if he was your Captain pick) it seems impossible to consider anyone else.



This is even more relevant following the injury to his only other real rival for the armband, Sergio Aguero. Predictions currently vary as to the extent of his calf injury and how many GW's it will keep him out for, but I don't think he'll be back before the New Year.

So, does Suarez have any rivals for the captaincy. Arguably not, but he can't continue to rack up double figure scores every GW can he? Let's look at his stats. Bearing in mind he missed the first 5 GW's this season due to suspension, the top 3 scoring players each GW is listed below, with Suarez's stats alongside. All scores have been doubled to reflect what you would have scored if they were your Captain that GW.

GW1: Benteke - 36 Pts / Ivanovic - 30 Pts / Mignolet - 30 Pts (Suarez - N/A)
GW2: Campbell - 32 Pts / Podolski - 26 Pts / Jose Enrique - 24 Pts (Suarez - N/A)
GW3: Davies - 30 Pts / Hernandez - 26 Pts / Zabaleta & Agger - 24 Pts (Suarez - N/A)
GW4: Sigurdsson - 32 Pts / Ramsey - 30 Pts / Ben Arfa - 26 Pts (Suarez - N/A)
GW5: Baines - 32 Pts / Lovren - 30 Pts / Ridgewell - 30 Pts (Suarez - N/A)
GW6: Lukaku - 32 Pts / Sturridge - 28 Pts / Ramsey & Suarez - 26 Pts
GW7: Reid - 30 Pts / Januzaj - 28 Pts / Remy - 26 Pts (Suarez - 12 Pts)
GW8: Hazard - 36 Pts / Aguero - 32 Pts / Ozil - 30 Pts (Suarez - 20 Pts)
GW9: Suarez - 34 Pts / Howard - 28 Pts / Vertonghen, Torres & Lambert - 24 Pts
GW10: Aguero - 36 Pts / Caulker - 30 Pts / McAuley - 30 Pts (Suarez - 4 Pts)
GW11: Suarez - 32 Pts / Lambert - 30 Pts / Bardsley - 30 Pts
GW12: Navas - 38 Pts / Lampard - 32 Pts / Aguero - 30 Pts (Suarez - 18 Pts)
GW13: Nasri - 32 Pts / Ramsey - 30 Pts / Oviedo - 28 Pts (Suarez - 4 Pts)
GW14: Suarez - 48 Pts / Hazard - 34 Pts / Yaya Toure - 30 Pts
GW15: Suarez - 30 Pts / Schurrle - 30 Pts / Fer - 28 Pts
GW16: Suarez - 44 Pts / Fernandinho - 30 Pts / Flanagan, Henderson, Walcott & Osman - 26 Pts

The evidence is overwhelming. Suarez has no clear rivals for the captaincy. Even in the weeks he was outside the top 3 scoring players, he would STILL have given you double figure points except in GW10 and GW13.

Suarez has been the top points scorer in 5 separate GW's, including the last 3, and in the top 3 highest points scorers in 6 of the 11 GW's he has been eligible to play in.

Contrast that with his nearest rival, Aguero, who has appeared in the list only once as top points scorer and only 3 times in total. In terms of multiple appearances in that list there are only:

1. Suarez - 6
2. Aguero - 3
3. Ramsey - 3
4. Lambert - 2
5. Hazard - 2

Other popular Captain picks include Romelu Lukaku, Yaya Toure, Loic Remy, Mesut Ozil, , Daniel Sturridge (pre-injury), Olivier Giroud and Wayne Rooney.

It may surprise you to note that all of these have appeared in the top 3 only once, except Olivier Giroud and Wayne Rooney who have not appeared AT ALL!

But what about representatives in the top points scorers based on the club they play for? This may affect your decision making for future Captain choice in future. Listed below are the number of appearances in the overall list of top points scorers (top 3) per club. If the club is not listed, it means they have only been in the list once, or not at all:

Liverpool - 12
Man City - 8
Arsenal & Chelsea - 6
Everton - 5
Southampton - 3
Cardiff, Swansea, West Brom, Newcastle, Tottenham - 2

This suggests you might want to select your Captain from one of the current (at the time of writing) top 5 teams in the Premier League. Choosing from elsewhere is always going to be risky looking at the evidence above.

If you (by some miracle) have managed to select the correct Captain choice in every single GW to date, it averages out at 34.6 Pts per GW. Realistically, if your Captain delivers 30 Pts per GW you will probably be floating around near the very top of the overall rankings.

This is not going to happen if you select the incorrect Captain. Suarez is probably the only realistic choice at present, but even he has to have an off day like in GW's 10 and 13 again surely? A lot of us predicted it last weekend against Spurs, but his 2 goals, 3 assists and 3 bonus points made us all look a bit stupid. Most of us decided to switch the Captaincy from Suarez to Aguero, Rooney or Lukaku who all managed 10 Pts (remember, I'm talking about if you captained them) compared to the 44 racked up by Suarez.

Fixtures coming up for him are:

GW17: Cardiff (H)
GW18: Man City (A)
GW19: Chelsea (A)
GW20: Hull City (H)

If FPL managers decided to not Captain him away at Spurs in GW16, then you'd no doubt be tempted not to Captain Suarez away at Man City or Chelsea. But this is a truly world class player. Does the opposition matter? Does home advantage matter? Evidently not.

Who else are you going to go with? Lukaku has some attractive looking fixtures when Suarez is facing his "difficult" opposition; The Beast goes up against Sunderland and Southampton at home.

Rooney will come into contact with Hull City and Norwich City (both away). Potentially points there surely? Especially with RVP's continuing absence.

A lot of managers are already rushing to ditch Aguero (100,000 transfers out at the time of writing, and rising fast! [EDIT: 250,000 - An increase of 150,000 in 24 hours!!] and apart from Suarez and Rooney, the most popular player to bring in is the guy who will try and fill Aguero's boots in real life - Alvaro Negredo.

Hang on a minute though. Managers are rushing to transfer Suarez IN to their teams? This GW? But...but...but....but that means YOU DON'T OWN HIM ALREADY!?!?!?!!?

Let's check the ownership stats. 44.3% ownership. No, hang on. 44.4% ownership. Wait a minute, 44.5% ownership. It's going up by the minute! [EDIT: Now 45.6% ownership - 91,000 managers have brought him in during the last 48 hours] But this seems ridiculously low considering the points return he has been consistently giving.

Granted, he is the second most owned player this season, but he is still waaay behind this years leader, Aaron Ramsey, who is owned by 62.4% of all managers.

I'd hate to think what your overall position is if you don't already own Suarez. And if you do own him but have chosen not to Captain him every week, what were you thinking?!?

I'm speculating here, but based on the fact Suarez has been the top points scorer for the last 3 GW's running, and he faces Cardiff at Anfield this weekend, EVERY SINGLE Suarez owner is going to Captain him!

So, have you got the bottle to do anything different? Lukaku? (Reminder - top points scorer once in GW6.) Rooney? (Never been in the top 3 weekly highest points scorers.) Maybe a punt on Negredo seeing as you've brought him in? Be warned, he's only scored double figures once in GW 12. 10 Pts (or 20 if you captained him of course).

It's a choice of Suarez or Suarez for GW17. The following 2 GW's will test your faith in Suarez. Will you swap him out because of the quality of the opposition he is facing away from home?

Remember:

"If Liverpool are playing at home, captain Suarez. 
If they are playing away, captain Suarez"

Fly (Meet_the_Gadfly)

PS - Stay tuned later this week for my #FlyBuy pick. He won't be worth giving the captaincy to, but with everyone going with Suarez in GW17, you'll probably need a differential somewhere!!