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The Armband: FMLS Round 12 Captain Rankings

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.

Another international break down and another week of injuries popping up away from league play. Sergio Aguero is the biggest name of note after fainting at halftime of Argentinaís match against Nigeria on Tuesday. Reports are that he expects to be fit, but Iím not sure Man City need to rush him into the starting XI after that episode. Others like Sadio Mane, Eden Hazard and Raheem Sterling picked up injuries along the way or failed to compete in their international friendlies.

In regards to finding your captain, the Aguero issue is the biggest of note and Iím taking him off my list. If he starts after being rushed to the hospital on Tuesday, then fine. I just donít think City need him in a match against a team sitting in the bottom half of the table.

With Sterling nursing a back issue, Iíll go with the assumption that Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne will start at Leicester this weekend. Unfortunately, the last time this happened, Jesus put up a dud, taking part in none of Cityís three goals scored at West Brom. With his slip in form, Iím much more inclined to back Sane and De Bruyne for the armband. Sane has three goals and five assists in his last six starts, while De Bruyne has scored or assisted in seven of the last eight. Leicester are at home but have already fallen to Chelsea and Liverpool at King Power, giving up five goals in those matches.

Man United are at Old Trafford, so Romelu Lukaku is back under the microscope even though heís failed to score in his last six matches in all competitions. After averaging close to three shots on goal per match in the first two months of the season, he has just six shots on goal total in the last seven matches. While in a great spot, Iím not sold on Lukaku as the top captain option. Also of note, Newcastle have played more defensive on the road, allowing only five goals in five matches. I may even consider Antonio Valencia or another United defender if given the choice. The Red Devils still have an impressive eight clean sheets in 11 league matches.

I wouldnít be opposed to taking Alvaro Morata (at West Brom) or someone on Liverpool above Lukaku. Morata has the same seven goals and three assists in league play as Lukaku and heís done it in about 260 fewer minutes. Sure, thatís because heís been injured multiple times, but whenever he is in the lineup for Chelsea, Morata has produced with an efficient seven goals scored only 13 shots on target. Even on the road, I like Morataís chances against a West Brom side that has lost three straight.

As for the Reds, Mohamed Salah has turned into their most consistent player over the last month, partly due to injuries and Roberto Firminoís struggles in front of net. Southampton have only allowed three goals on the road this season, but a lot of that has to do with matchups and they just allowed two at Stoke a few weeks ago. As for Salah, he has six goals and two assists in his last five matches in all competitions. That includes at least three shots on goal and an average of two chances created per match.

The north London derby will be the toughest match to predict, swaying me from captaining any of the players. Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette are at home, but Iíd rather trust Harry Kane, as long as heís deemed fit. Kane dealt with a leg injury over the break, so thatís the biggest concern. In his last three away league matches, Kane has scored a brace. Iíll take that over an inconsistent Arsenal attack against a good back line.

Elsewhere, Richarlison will continue to be a possible play, which doesnít often get said about players at his price range, as he has three goals and three assists in the last six league matches. While he may not create as much as other guys on this list, he has taken 23 shots in his last five starts. Home against West Ham, who have given up a league-high 23 goals, is a perfect time to go with Richarlison.

Outside of Richarlison, there isnít a differential that stands out for captain unless you want to dig deep with Wilfried Zaha or someone from Burnley like Chris Wood. For me, thatís a little too deep.