The Best Game Week 1 Captain Picks

The Premier League finally returns this weekend, and with that comes the welcome return of fantasy football. It has been a long three months without top-flight football in England, but many passionate fans have been setting up their teams and are now finally settled on their teams for the first round of fixtures.

One of the most important aspects that fantasy fans must ask themselves is before the first week of fixtures is who to name their captain as ahead of the big kick-off. Let’s examine some of the best options available to players.

Mohamed Salah (12.5m)

Last season’s top scorer in the Premier League has already been picked by nearly 40% of players for their respective teams. Salah ended the previous season with a successive golden boot after scoring 22 goals in the top-flight, and he is heavily expected to start the 2019-20 season in excellent form.

Granted, this is a premium option among fantasy players since the Egyptian costs £12.5 million, but if selected as captain on the first weekend, players will be quickly getting a head start.

Salah’s Liverpool host Norwich on the opening match-day. The Premier League newcomers travel to Anfield, and many expect the Reds to dispatch of their opponents comfortably. The bookmakers make Liverpool 1/7 favourites to win the game. Despite winning the Championship last season, the Canaries conceded 57 goals last season and failed to keep a clean sheet in their final six fixtures last season. This poor defensive record has continued over pre-season as they have only kept one clean sheet in their four fixtures.

Salah will likely get a host of chances and will play a starring role in what should be a comfortable opening day win for Liverpool.

Raheem Sterling (12m)

Raheem Sterling enjoyed an excellent pre-season by scoring five goals over four fixtures, including the Community Shield success. He will play a crucial role for the Citizens at the beginning of the season since both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are both yet to reach their pinnacle of fitness. Not just this, but Sterling was a dream for fantasy players last season as he only failed to register a single point on only 12 of the 32 match-days that he appeared for City.

West Ham is the perfect first game of the season for Sterling also. The Englishman has scored more goals against the Hammers than against any other Premier League side. He scored in this fixture at the London Stadium last season, and also scored a brace in the Citizens win over West Ham in the Asia Trophy during pre-season.

Harry Kane (11m)

The 2018-19 season was somewhat of a disappointment when it came to the Spurs striker for fantasy players.  Kane only scored 17 goals in the injury-hit campaign, which was the lowest tally that he has recorded since bursting onto the scene in the 2014-15 season. He is priced at £11 million this season, and that price seems just too good for players to turn down, with over 28.3% of players opting to remain patient with the Spurs man.

He has looked sharp throughout pre-season and could be set for a return to over 20 goals for the coming season if he remains fully fit throughout the campaign. Spurs open the season at their new home against last season’s playoff winners Aston Villa. No promoted team conceded more than Villa’s tally of 61, and after a summer of change at the Midlands club it could be a good time to be playing against Dean Smith’s side. The game will mark the first full season at the New Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for Spurs, and Harry Kane will be looking to start the season with a couple of goals. You wouldn’t bet against it.

Callum Wilson (8m)

Wilson enjoyed an excellent last season by scoring 14 goals and contributing 12 assists. His total of 168 points was his highest ever in fantasy football, even though he was injured for several game weeks. He could prove to be a fine differential captain pick as the Cherries welcome relegation favourites Sheffield United to the Vitality. Stats and heatmaps from last season suggest Wilson see far more action in the penalty that any other Bournemouth player, and certainly justifies his 8m price tag. Wilson could quickly teach Chris Wilder’s side the harsh difference between the Championship and the Premier League.

FPL New Boys – Player stats and analysis

Any competitive FPL manager will know how much of a difference a couple of effective differential players can make, and with the start of the new 2019/20 Premier League season just around the corner we see three new squads enter the fray.

If you didn’t follow the Championship closely last year then this round up of the FPL new boys could be just what you were looking for to bring you up to speed.

At the bottom of this page is a full sortable list of all the key players with full stats for last season’s Championship for your perusal – but to make things easy here is a really quick run-down of some of the key highlights. (Click here to go straight to the data)

Top Scorers

29 goals, Pukki – Norwich

This is a player that’s most likely on everybody’s radar already, the Finnish (not finished) striker knocked up an impressive 29 goals last season in the notoriously difficult championship. Obviously, the Premier League is on a different level, but surely those numbers have to turn some heads! 29 goals is an impressive tally in any league, and if he can rack up even half of those numbers this time around at just 6.5m he could prove to be a valuable asset for most teams.

Pukki notched up double figures in his last two seasons for Brondy before moving to Norwich –  netting 20 and 17 goals respectively – proving that he is a proven finisher and certainly worth being in the mix when it comes to planning your attacking line.

23 goals, Sharp – Sheffield United

Another player who knocked-up in an impressive 23 goal tally last season is the legend that is Billy Sharp. Finally getting his chance in the big time after all these years in the lower leagues and rightly so.

A prolific striker ( typically, apart from when he played for my beloved Leeds 🙁 ), this is a character I cannot wait to see in the Premier League. He is Sheffield United’s main hit-man and at just 6m, for a guaranteed starter (at time of writing) I am surprised at his low FPL ownership of just 2% (at time of writing)

15 goals, McGoldrick – Sheffield United

If you didn’t follow the Championship last season this could be a little golden nugget that is going unnoticed, playing more minutes than the more ‘popular’ forementioned Billy Sharp.

Granted McGoldrick scored 8 goals less than Sharp, but 15 goals is still not too shabby in my opinion!

Let’s not overlook the fact he had more shots on target than Billy Sharp – in fact he had 2nd highest shots on target from all the newly promoted players with 45 accurate shots on target, 2nd only behind Pukki who had 57 accurate shots on goal.

McGoldrick is valued at just £5.5m – and with only 0.6% FPL ownership (at time of writing) he must be a contender for that ‘backup/sub’ striker player in your team.


11 Assist, Hourihane – Aston Villa

With a joint top assists (11) from last years promoted teams from the championship is Aston Villa’s key midfielder Conor Hourihane.

With the 28-year-old recently having signed a new contract with the Villains, and at just 0.5% ownership (at time of writing) – this player has to be on your ‘budget midfielder’ radar? I am guessing that the low ownership is down to his £6m price tag, with most people opting for the higher profile Grealish who’s valued at the same price tag.

However, the stats done lie, and with 2 more goals that Grealish and four more assists – maybe choosing Hourihane over Grealish could be a nice differential that is worth consideration.

11 Assist, Buendia – Norwich

With the same 11 assists as Hourihane, and the same goal tally of 8 there really isn’t much to choose between these two £6m rated midfielders.

Buendia does have a 0.5% higher FPL ownership rate than fellow top assister (from the new teams) Hourihane, and I am guessing that is because Buendia plays in a slightly more advanced role than Hourihane, usually as an attacking winger. Certainly, another key player from the FPL newbies worth taking a look at.

10 Assist, Fleck – Sheffield United

Flying way under the radar with just 0.4% ownership is John Fleck from Sheffield United. A whole 1m cheaper than Buendia and Hourihane and knocking up the 3rd highest minutes played (3975) last season – the ever-present Fleck has got to be worth consideration when it comes to padding out those ‘bench/backup’ spots in your team.

Having cheap midfielder who racked up 3rd highest assists is certainly noteworthy – granted he only netted 2 goals compared to the 8 goals scored by Buendia and Hourihane – but he is a whole1m cheaper, freeing up funds for those all important big/premium players in your squad.

It’s worth taking note that Fleck was joint 3rd in assists last year, alongside McGinn of Aston Villa and Pukki of Norwich. But decided to focus on Fleck because of his low cost and rock bottom FPL ownership.

McGinn is pretty well known about after his strong season at Villa and play-off performance, sparking apparent interested from Manchester United, and is another strong candidate from the new boys – just 0.5m more expensive than Fleck coming in at £5.5m, same number of assists but with an impressive 7 goals.

Checkout the stats yourself….

So there is my quick run down of the top goals scorers and assist using last year’s Championship stats for newly promoted teams.

Below are the stats, sortable and searchable, have a look and make your own mind up – does anything jump out for you? Any of the players mentioned above or listed below on your radar?


Antonio Conte’s best and worst moments at chelsea

Antonio Conte’s two years at Chelsea have been polar opposites of each other. With what looks like his final appearance on the touchline for the London club in today’s FA Cup final, let’s look at some of the Italian manager’s best moments for the club.

Best: Signing N’Golo Kanté

One of the shrewdest pieces of transfer business of the last few years (second only to Salah’s move to Liverpool) saw Conte bring the title-winning Leicester midfielder to Stamford Bridge. Along with Matic, Kanté bossed the middle of the park, bulldozing all comers gaining multiple player of the season awards and another Premier League title in the 2016/17 season.

Worst: Selling Nemanja Matić

In an absolutely bewildering move, Conte allowed Matić to leave Stamford Bridge for Mourinho’s Manchester United. Not only is he the Red Devil’s signing of the season, the player bought to replace Matić: Tiémoué Bakayoko, has been a complete disaster.

Best: Winning the League

An obvious one here as Chelsea were unbelievably effective in the 2016/17 season. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were revitalized, Kanté and Matić were the engine room, and Victor Moses finally fulfilled the promise that multiple loan spells failed in doing.

Worst: Conte’s cup nightmare

Antoino Conte is a fantastic manager, winning three Serie A titles with Juventus, taking a weak Italian national side to the European Championship quarter finals, and his record-breaking debut season in England. But Conte has had no luck in cup competitions, summed up nicely by defeat to the worst Arsenal team in 21 years in last years FA Cup final. Hopefully he can change his tune against Man Utd.

Best:One-two punch from Arsenal and Liverpool

This may seem like an odd choice, but the early season defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool in Conte’s debut season with Chelsea proved what a brilliant manager he can be. Both defeats came because Conte felt like he needed to adapt his management style to the Premier League, but then he said “screw it” and made the Premier League adapt to him. Much like Guardiola’s Man City this term, Conte’s Chelsea brought European tactics to England that bamboozled everyone else, even Arsene Wenger stole his 3-5-2 formation by the end of the campaign.

Worst: Freezing out Diego Cost

This will go done as Antonio Conte’s biggest mistake during his time in London. After one of Diego Costa’s best goal scoring seasons: he contributed 20 goals to Chelsea’s league-winning campaign, Conte sent the Spanish striker a text in pre-season saying that he was surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. The rest is history: Costa finally left for Atletico Madrid in January (winning the Europa League and finishing second in La Liga), and his replacement, Alvaro Morata, has flopped so hard that he may be looking for an escape route back to former club, Juventus. With Costa in the side, Chelsea won the league, without him (in a season where David Luiz and Gary Cahill have received the same treatment) and they couldn’t even make the Champions League.

FPL Game Week 10 – Moves To Make


Nick Pope – Goalkeeper Burnley £4.5

His save percentage of 85.3% is probably unsustainable, Heaton’s last season was only 74.7% and the average over the past 2 season of keepers who played 2000 minutes was 68.4%

Nick Pope ranks 13th amongst goal keepers despite only playing 5 full games. His save percentage of 85.3% is probably unsustainable, Heaton’s last season was only 74.7% and the average over the past 2 season of keepers who played 2000 minutes was 68.4%. But he does look superb and Burnley rank third lowest in expected goals allowed per shot meaning team are less likely to score from each shot meaning Heaton has a higher chance of a save on any given shot. With Burnley having juicy fixtures over their next 9 games, I see little reason why Pope can’t be one of the best fantasy keepers in that time frame.

Philippe Coutinho – Midfielder Liverpool £9.0

Coutinho had 17 shots and 14 passes which led to shots. The bookies also have Coutinho as more likely to score than Harry Kane this weekend

Coutinho has had two quiet weeks, but he has played against arguably the two best defences in the league with Manchester United conceding the fewest goals and Spurs the 3rd fewest and being 2nd in Expected Goals against. In the 3 previous games before that against weaker opposition, Coutinho had 17 shots and 14 passes which led to shots. The bookies also have Coutinho as more likely to score than Harry Kane this weekend and over the next 9 games Liverpool have an average fixture difficulty rating of 2.33 which is the lowest in the league. Simply put he’s a good player with good fixtures.



Gabriel Jesus – Forward Manchester City £10.6

Manchester City concede the least shots of With the West Brom fixture being played at The Hawthorns, it paves the way for Jesus to play a full 90 minutes against a team that has lost 2 of its key defenders in the last week

After playing 14 minutes on Saturday many managers have transferred the striker out and a lot of those managers will have brought in his team mate Aguero. But with Aguero playing 120 minutes of football on Tuesday and there seems to be rumblings that City want Aguero to break the record for the club’s highest scorer in front of the home fans. With the West Brom fixture being played at The Hawthorns, it paves the way for Jesus to play a full 90 minutes against a team that has lost 2 of its key defenders in the last week.


Marcos Alonso – Defender Chelsea £6.9

Alonso faces Bournemouth this week where the bookies give them a 38.5% chance of a clean sheet this weekend which is 5th highest in the league

Alonso only has 4 points in his last 4 games and has been transferred out by lots of owners already causing a price drop. But Alonso faces Bournemouth this week where the bookies give them a 38.5% chance of a clean sheet this weekend which is 5th highest in the league. Bournemouth also rank 2nd lowest in expected goals and 2nd in goals conceded it’s a prime opportunity for a clean sheet. It may also be a chance for attacking returns with the Cherries having conceded 13 goals already and ranking 4th worst in expected goals allowed.



Romelu Lukaku – Forward Manchester United £11.7

their next two fixtures are Spurs and Chelsea which may cause United to shut up shop and lead to very few opportunities for the Belgian

With Lukaku only having 3 shots in the last 2 games, it seems difficult to justify this price tag on him. Add that onto the fact their next two fixtures are Spurs and Chelsea which may cause United to shut up shop and lead to very few opportunities for the Belgian. Although followed by 3 nice fixtures, there is also Arsenal and Manchester City on the horizon and Lukaku has only scored 15 goals in his 58 games against big 6 opposition which could mean he’s about to embark on a turbulent period.

Joselu – Forward Newcastle £5.5

in his last 4 games he only has 5 shots after having 17 shots in his first 4

I was initially a massive fan of Joselu as a fantasy option but in his last 4 games he only has 5 shots after having 17 shots in his first 4. Considering he is not the most potent finisher he’s someone who needs shot volume to be there and it seems that has started to dry up. Arguably he’s still the best option in the cheap striker bracket but it’s difficult to feel confident in a striker in a defensive team that isn’t getting chances to score.


So there you have it, our Game Week 10 Moves to make courtesy of Ben Sutton. Do you agree or do you have some other options we should consider? Leave your comments and opinions below.

Good luck to all FPL’ers this weekend – may your arrows be green

5 Best Footballers Never to Play in the Premier League in the 21st Century

The English Premier League (EPL) is the most popular football league in the world, and has attracted some of the world’s greatest players to England’s shores. However, although the EPL continues to have the highest percentage of foreign players of any football league, it has failed to attract some of the game’s biggest legends. In the following segment we explore five stars that have not graced the EPL with their talents.

5. Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon

Ever since signing from Parma to Juventus in 2001, Buffon has become a permanent fixture at the Turin club, and one of the best goalkeepers in the world. In his 17 years with Juventus he has helped them win almost every trophy possible, and stayed loyal to the club when it was relegated in 2006 during the Italian football scandal. When asked why he didn’t take up the opportunity to play for Premier League clubs, Buffon said “I have always been successful here, I would not have changed anything.”

4. Luis Figo

Arriving at the Bernabeu in the summer of 2000 from Barcelona, Figo’s career would take off with Real Madrid. He would earn the coveted Ballon d’Or in 2000 and help Madrid win seven trophies. In the summer of 2005, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez came very close to signing Figo. However, the deal fell through when, at the last minute, Madrid demanded a £2 million transfer fee.

Figo has said he was always leaning towards Milan rather than Liverpool, and spoke of how he felt more at home at Internazionale. When asked about the deal in an interview with Sky Sports, Figo said, “I had a great offer from Liverpool, but as soon as I got to Milan my mind was made up.”

3. Andres Iniesta

Much like Lionel Messi, the legendary midfielder began his adult career at Barcelona and has been there ever since. Having played over 650 games and scoring the crucial winning goal in Spain’s win over the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final, he has never been tempted to play in England’s top flight. Barcelona FC reported that he recently signed a lifetime contract with the club cementing his refusal to play for any other club.

2. Ronaldo

Always remembered as “the one,” Ronaldo’s European roller coaster career began at PSV Eindhoven, and included spells at Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, before ending at AC Milan in 2007. Regarded as one of the best ever players to grace the pitch, he had scored over 200 goals by the time he was 24. He also made a name for himself on the international stage with Ladbrokes stating that Ronaldo scored both goals in their 2-0 win over Germany in the 2002 World Cup final. Despite his strength, physicality and speed, a combination of knee injuries and lifestyle choices prevented the Brazilian star from ever playing in the EPL.

1. Lionel Messi

The Argentine star has become somewhat of a legend in Barcelona; not merely as a player, but as the heart of a living, breathing football machine. Joining the club’s Under 14 team in 2000, Messi continues to remain at the Spanish club. While many still hope that there is a chance he may play in the Premier League, Catalan scout and Messi’s mentor Josep Colomer disagrees: “I don’t see him in another club. Messi is Messi in the context of Barcelona. I’m not sure he is going to be the same Lionel Messi in another context.”


While any self-respecting football fan would have loved to see these five stars play in the EPL, they are who they are due to the choices they made and the clubs which propelled them. Had they played in the EPL they may have disappointed and their reputations may not have been what they are today. We need only look at talented players like Andriy Shevchenko, Juan Veron, Diego Forlan and Robinho, to name a few, whose careers took a nosedive in the EPL.

Exclusively written for By RJ Sports Reports