The Armband: Gameweek 38 Captaincy Analysis
The Armband: Gameweek 38 Captaincy Analysis

This article is part of our The Armband series.

It may be the final weekend of the Premier League season, but there are positives that come with it. For starters, you don't have to pull your hair out deciding whom to captain – ultimately choosing the option that fails to score and picks up a yellow card – until next August. The UEFA Champions League final is only a couple weeks away. This summer includes competitions such as Euro 2016 and Copa America Centenario. And of course, the 2016 Summer Olympics get started right around the time the Premier League kicks back up.

But until then, there's a final captain that needs to be decided.

Last week, things mostly didn't work out. Mostly. Dimitri Payet salvaged a couple assists and Juan Mata was one of the better choices with teammate Anthony Martial.

However, of all the teams, it was Sunderland who won two matches, scored six goals, had a clean sheet and confirmed their spot for the 2016/17 campaign. Not many can say they saw that coming.

Defender Lamine Kone scored two goals to go with a clean sheet in Wednesday's huge 3-0 win over Everton. Patrick van Aanholt and DeAndre Yedlin joined the back-line party as well. Up front it was the usual suspects with Jermain Defoe and Fabio Borini contributing in the 3-2 win against Chelsea.

Yes, the end of the season brings a lot of weird things. Predicting those things is nearly impossible, but let's hope the choices
below lead the way.

Arsenal are surely the team to focus on for Gameweek 38 hosting Aston Villa. The Villains are coming off a clean sheet against Newcastle, but that was purely an anomaly and their first since Feb. 6. Arsenal have a top-four place locked up and shouldn't be too tense in the final match.

The issue may be with Arsene Wenger and whom he decides fit to feature. Alexis Sanchez should be a no-brainer considering how well the midfielder has played down the stretch. Olivier Giroud should also get the call after scoring and assisting last weekend. It's been an up-and-down season for the Frenchman and he'd like to close it on a high note. Digging deeper, a defender like Hector Bellerin or Nacho Monreal could be useful. Some will even be inclined to look at Aaron Ramsey, who hasn't had the best of seasons.

Manchester City are at Swansea, which could be a fun matchup. The Swans have suddenly picked up their play, topping both Liverpool and West Ham the last two times out by a combined 7-2. That free-flowing play should allow Sergio Aguero to find the back of the net yet again and compete for the Golden Boot.

Kevin De Bruyne is also a target after scoring last match. City still need points from this one to secure a spot in the top four, so they won't take it lightly.

On their tail is Manchester United, who host Bournemouth. The Red Devils let their midweek match slip away at West Ham, losing 3-2. Martial may be the one to focus on after a brace to go with United's ever-consistent Mata. Bournemouth don't have much to play for and have just one point from their last four matches; their only win since early March came against lowly Aston Villa.

Chelsea and Leicester should provide a fun match with nothing at stake. Surprisingly, Eden Hazard may be the wisest option here with Jamie Vardy dealing with a hamstring issue.

Last but not least is current goal leader Harry Kane, who travels to Newcastle with Spurs. The Magpies have done well as of late, having not lost in five straight. Unfortunately, their quest to stay out of relegation ended when Sunderland beat Everton on Wednesday.

As for Tottenham, they have nothing to play for and have two points from their last three matches, with Kane having scored only once in that period.

Going against the grain, the team to focus on this weekend is Southampton, who have been one of the hottest in the league. Shane Long and Graziano Pelle are the goals scorers, but Dusan Tadic deserves some recognition, as well. The Serbian has recorded six assists and two goals in his last four matches. The Saints host Crystal Palace, who haven't won a road match since Dec. 19. With nothing on the table for these clubs, expect goals and some more Tadic assists.

Gameweek 38 Captaincy Rankings

1. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
2. Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
3. Harry Kane, Tottenham
4. Dusan Tadic, Southampton
5. Eden Hazard, Chelsea

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Zdroik
Adam writes on sports ranging from NFL and MLB to soccer and college basketball. Outside of writing, he has worked with a professional soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, and in the stats department at ESPN. He is a former Streak for the Cash winner and Michigan State graduate. 2018 and 2017 Finalist for FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year.
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