With the deadline for the final set of festive fixtures looming at 11.30 am tomorrow, we opt for a late night reveal for the Gameweek 20 Scout Picks.
Our latest search for value between the sticks has us acquire Middlesbrough’s Victor Valdes (4.5) ahead of Leicester City’s visit to the Riverside Stadium in Saturday’s early kick-off.
In their nine road trips, the Foxes have mustered an unimpressive eight goals, which immediately promotes the short-term stock of the Middlesbrough stopper.
In addition, Claudio Ranieri’s men have mustered 39 goal attempts from outside the box away from home – joint top for that metric. That gives us the added security that Boro keeper may just add save points to his Gameweek 20 tally.
Swansea City’s dreadful form ahead of their visit to Selhurst Park has prompted us to welcome Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann (5.2) into the fold.
Dann has recorded more close range efforts than any other defender this season and earned an assist from a set-piece when the two sides last met in the 5-4 goal-fest back in Gameweek 13.
The Swans have also scored just seven goals on the road, indication that we may even catch sight of the lesser-spotted Eagles clean sheet.
Hull City share a similarly dreadful away record to the Swans, which has put West Brom’s Chris Brunt (5.0) on our radar ahead of the Tigers’ visit to The Hawthorns.
Owned by just 1.9%, we’re backing Brunt for another start and a role on the flank. From open play or from dead-balls, Brunt’s assured delivery can promise attacking returns and, given that Mike Phelan’s side have scored just five goals in nine away games, Brunt is a candidate for double-digits.
Completing our three-man back line is Manchester United’s Phil Jones (4.9), who looks assured of a start away to West Ham United, given that he was rested at home to Middlesbrough in Gameweek 19.
Alexis Sanchez (11.9) is one of three premium picks squeezed into our 84 million budget, recruited ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Bournemouth.
The Chilean’s peerless record on the road is behind his selection.
With nine goals away from home, more than any other player, Sanchez is simply too strong an option to ignore. Eddie Howe’s men seem likely to be driven forward by their faithful, Arsene Wenger will therefore perhaps resort to “plan A” and deploy Sanchez back in the central striker role.
To help fund the Gunners man, we have joined more than 106,000 FPL managers who have drafted in West Brom’s Matt Phillips (5.6).
He scored his fourth goal and earned his seventh assist of the campaign, away to Southampton on Saturday.
Granted he played the full 90 minutes in that encounter, but we think his relentless form should ensure that Tony Pulis once again turns to the winger for the visit of Hull City.
Although Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha (5.8) departs for duty at the Africa Cup of Nations after Swansea’s visit, we feel that he represents a convincing option for this Gameweek.
The 12.3% owned winger has eight assists and three goals to his name and, while Zaha has blanked in his last four, it’s the Swans’ obliging backline that convinces us. The Welsh club have leaked 13 goals in their last four Gameweeks; 18 in their last six.
As with Phillips, we are hoping that form can trump the fatigue factor and ensure that Adam Lallana (7.6) earns a start for Liverpool at Sunderland.
The 23% owned midfielder has been sensational in recent matches, racking up his seventh assist with a sublime cross in Saturday’s win over Manchester City, adding to a season record that shows the same number of goals.
Our heavyweight attack features the re-introduction of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (12.8).
Despite marking his return from a four-match ban with a tepid blank against Liverpool on Saturday, we just couldn’t overlook his stronger prospects of returns when Burnley drop by the Etihad Stadium.
The Clarets have shipped 18 goals in eight matches away from home, while the Argentine has scored 10 in his 12 Gameweek starts. In addition, Aguero has already put Sean Dyche’s side to the sword once this season, claiming a brace in City’s trip to Turf Moor in Gameweek 13.
Consistency drives our selection of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11.6), who has now delivered at least a goal or assist in all bar one of his last eight Gameweek starts.
With Jose Mourinho recently referring to Manchester United’s talisman as “undroppable” , we feel that Ibrahimovic can also offer us security of start in a Gameweek that could be littered with rest and rotation concerns.
Swansea’s aforementioned defensive record sees us double up on Palace assets and welcome aboard Christian Benteke (7.6) in the XI.
The 9.2% owned Belgian will be hoping to join Spurs’ Harry Kane, West Brom’s Salomon Rondon and Middlesbrough’s Alvaro Negredo to become the fourth striker in succession to earn a double-digit points haul when receiving a visit from the Swans.
Speaking of Rondon (6.7), he claims a spot on our bench with Hull’s unenviable away record the key factor.
The striker was rested to the bench at Southampton on Saturday, but we expect him to start against the Tigers; five of the Venezuelan’s seven goals have arrived at The Hawthorns.
Middlesbrough’s Gaston Ramirez (5.3) claims our midfield bench role and is another player who will feel will outperform his price point in Gameweek 20.
The Uruguayan schemer, who has two goals and a pair of assists so far, looks a certain starter against Leicester City, given that he was only used from the bench against Manchester United in Gameweek 19.
Watford’s current cast of injuries and form that has seen them score just twice in their last four outings, has us turn to Stoke City’s Erik Pieters as our reserve defender.
The Dutchman is expected to take up the role of wing-back against the Hornets and, with Walter Mazzarri’s side nursing a list of casualties on their right-flank, he may even get some joy as the Potters look to build on an encouraging display at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The community member who beats our picks by the biggest margin over the campaign will win a £100 Amazon Voucher and a place in our Contributors and Moderators League for the following season. The current champion to beat is Boris Bodega, who achieved a 33 point margin of victory over us in Gameweek 15.
The Gameweek 19 champion Game of Throw Ins opted for a 3-4-3 line up of: Heaton; Azpilicueta, Holgate, Valencia; Sigurdsson, Alli, Hazard, Lallana; Aguero, Lukaku, Carroll.
Ahead of Sunday’s games, the Scouts were trailing Game of Throw Ins 16 to 25.
Due to the tight turnaround of games the community champion contest is taking a break for this round of fixtures and will resume again for Gameweek 21.