Sometimes deadlines can be a blessing. With the Scout Picks set for an earlier-than-usual appearance this evening as Mark and Granville are off to the Sky Sports Fantasy Football show, we’ve come to a conclusion after a Friday full of deliberation. The injury news and doubts in today’s press conferences saw us shuffle our options behind the scenes several times until, finally, the decision was made:
Simon Mignolet gets the nod between the sticks with a home clash against Wigan this Gameweek. With doubts still hovering over Carlos Cuellar’s fitness, the Belgian offers the safest route into Martin O’Neill’s backline tomorrow as the Black Cats seek to extend their unbeaten start to the season.
Sitting second in this week’s Captain Poll, Leighton Baines welcomes Southampton to Goodison on the back of a brilliant run of form. The Everton left-back has been drafted in by huge amounts of Fantasy managers prior to tomorrow’s showdown and has so far registered bonus points in all but one of his opening five Gameweeks. The visitors have conceded nine goals in their two away games so far and Baines’ creativity on the flank could well prove instrumental for the Toffees.
We were all set to go with Rafael but Sir Alex Ferguson’s admission that Scott Wootton will feature for United tomorrow has us steering clear of the Red Devils’ defence, purely as a precautionary measure. Instead, we’ve changed tact completely and moved Glen Johnson out of the Differentials and into the Scout Picks. The Liverpool full-back makes his way to Carrow Road to square up to a Norwich side that have scored just twice this season – he’s shown plenty of attacking intent without quite producing the goods so far but could come to the fore as Brendan Rodgers’ side seek to clinch their first win of the season and climb out the drop zone.
We’ve opted for Robert Huth ahead of Stoke’s home clash against Swansea. Always likely to offer a threat from set-pieces in the opposition box, the Potters’ centre-half looks a good bet for a clean sheet too – Stoke have conceded just once at home over their two games against Arsenal and City, while Swansea have failed to find the net in their last two.
Hatem Ben Arfa gets the nod ahead of Newcastle’s trip to Reading tomorrow. The Frenchman has played a significant part in his side’s attacking forays so far – with a couple of goals and an assist already accrued, Ben Arfa has been involved in half the Magpies’ six goals in the first five Gameweeks. Averaging just over six points per game, the winger will surely have a major say as Alan Pardew’s side attempt to register back-to-back victories for the first time this term.
We sang the praises of Santi Cazorla in a Watchlist article earlier this week and draft in the Arsenal playmaker ahead of tomorrow’s early kick-off against Chelsea. After a couple of opening blanks, the former Malaga man has now produced attacking returns in the subsequent three fixtures and is already a huge influence on his side’s attacking endeavours.
Marouane Fellaini is nailed-on this week. Three goals and an assist in the first five is indicative of his new attacking role in support of a lone striker. Southampton have been particularly vulnerable in the air thus far – a fact David Moyes will be more than aware of ahead of tomorrow’s Goodison match, with the Belgian’s aerial prowess set to pester the Saints from start to finish.
In an unprecedented move, we’ve also opted for Fellaini’s fellow-Toffee Steven Pienaar. Yesterday’s Members article highlighted both players’ recent displays and with Fellaini essentially playing as a forward right now, Pienaar’s left flank forays could prove the undoing of Southampton’s right-back Nathaniel Clyne tomorrow. Fellaini may have hogged the headlines, but the South African sits just four points behind his team mate in the FPL standings and an average of 5.6 points per game is too difficult to overlook.
A crucial spot-kick winner at Anfield took Robin Van Persie’s tally to five in three starts for United. Top of the scoring charts already, the Dutchman’s presence is already proving crucial at his new club and despite the return to fitness of Wayne Rooney, it’s Van Persie – as always – who gets the nod for tomorrow’s Old Trafford showdown with Tottenham.
Back from a knee injury that curtailed his opening to the season, we opt for Sergio Aguero ahead of City’s trip to Fulham. The Argentine was the only forward rested by Roberto Mancini for the midweek Capital One clash against Villa and while doubt may linger over Carlos Tevez’s game time, his compatriot looks nailed-on to start. Factor in his double in the corresponding fixture last time round and he could well be set to open his account for the campaign as the champions look to get back to winning ways.
Steven Fletcher makes his Scout Picks debut for the season. The new Sunderland striker welcomes Wigan to the Stadium of Light and is afforded a strong chance to maintain his record of scoring in every game for the Wearsiders so far. With a single clean sheet and 10 goals conceded in the first five, the Latics have been far from resilient at the back ahead of tomorrow’s encounter.
The attacking threat of Ciaran Clark earn the Villa defender a place on the bench. Paul Lambert’s side welcome West Brom to Villa Park on the back of a thrilling Capital One Cup win at City in midweek and with a goal to his name already this season and a clean sheet in his last home game, the cut-price centre half offers potential at both ends of the pitch.
A home clash against Swansea offers Jon Walters the chance to pick up the points. The Irishman certainly prefers the home comforts of the Britannia and has made a reasonable start to the season, with a goal and couple of assists already accrued. With Tony Pulis desperate for a first win of the new campaign, Walters could be set to prosper tomorrow against a Swans’ side that has shipped seven in the last three Gameweeks.
Demba Ba is given a last-minute call-up after Dimitar Berbatov was ruled out for Fulham by Martin Jol earlier this afternoon. With three goals in the last couple of Gameweeks, the Newcastle forward has soared in the FPL standings and is second only to Carlos Tevez for forwards – with the Royals yet to register a clean sheet, Ba looks likely to be handed plenty opportunity to continue his strong recent showings at the Madejski tomorrow afternoon.