FPL Gameweek 1 captain picks

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    As weekly FPL decisions go, nailing your captain pick is as big and important as it gets – especially at the very start of the campaign.

    It’s a blank canvas for all fantasy managers to start the season, but who should you be backing to ensure a positive start to 2022/23?

    Mo Salah perma-captain was the key trend at the start of last season and we could see the same again for the 2022/23 season. A trip to Championship winners Fulham is a favourable fixture for Salah, who has won the Golden Boot in three of his five seasons with Liverpool.

    It’s fair to say that Salah generally starts the season strongly: he’s scored in each of his five Gameweek 1 fixtures for Liverpool, managing double-digit fantasy points for his away Gameweek 1 fixtures and each time he’s faced a promoted team in Gameweek 1. 

    Some managers might even be considering using their Triple Captain chip on Salah in Gameweek 1: it’s not the worst idea, but remember you can only use this booster for triple points from your captain once in a fantasy season. There may be better opportunities during a Double Gameweek later in the season.

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    We saw a trademark performance from Salah in Liverpool’s Community Shield victory against Manchester City last Saturday: he provided the assist for the opening goal, before converting himself from the penalty spot. 

    With a full pre-season under his belt, Salah should see a return to form: he struggled towards the end of last campaign after a relentless schedule for club and country across competitions, including the Africa Cup of Nations. A new long-term contract bodes well for a promising season ahead. 

    While Salah may steal all of the captain headlines, there are credible options elsewhere, with Harry Kane a serious contender on the opening weekend of the season. He’s won the Golden Boot in three of the last seven seasons and is enjoying life at Spurs under Antonio Conte.

    Since Conte took the reins at Tottenham Hotspur last season, Kane has been the leading player in the Premier League for both big chances and big chances created, showing his ability to accumulate goals and assists in equal measure. In 2020/21 he won both the Golden Boot and Playmaker awards.

    His team-mate Son Heung-min is also a very credible contender for captaincy, with this pair combining for 37 Premier League goals, the leading duo in Premier League history. Southampton is one of Kane’s favourite opponents: he’s scored 11 goals and created six against the Saints across 14 appearances. 

    Erling Haaland is the most high profile Premier League signing of the summer transfer window which inevitably makes him a very popular FPL option and also a captaincy contender. Don’t overlook West Ham’s capability though, this fixture ended in a 2-2 draw in the penultimate week of last season.

    Fantasy managers got their first glimpse of Haaland in a competitive game for Manchester City during last Saturday’s Community Shield game, with his performance dividing opinion. Haaland had two big chances, hit the crossbar and finished the game with an xG of 1.6, but couldn’t find a breakthrough.

    It’s clear that Haaland will get plenty of goal-scoring opportunities in the most prolific Premier League side, even if he fails to convert some of those big chances. He’s scored on his Champions League debut and his Bundesliga debut, so captain him if you expect this trend to continue in the Premier League.

    This captaincy article could not be complete without mentioning the highest owned player in the game heading into Gameweek 1: Arsenal’s new number nine Gabriel Jesus. An away trip to Crystal Palace looks promising on paper, but Arsenal fans will tell you that the Eagles are their bogey team, with the Gunners winning just once in the last four seasons.

    One key reason for Jesus’ popularity this season is his pre-season form: Arsenal have been electric throughout July, with Jesus accumulating more offensive returns than any other player with seven goals and one assist. There’s plenty of optimism that he can hit the ground running in the Premier League.

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