The Scout Squad crew return to offer their long-list of candidates to be considered for our regular Scout Picks selection.
The 72 nominations will be whittled down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding £83m) ahead of the earlier-than-usual Gameweek 14 deadline at 19:00 GMT on Friday.
Our regular panel of long-term site contributors, Paul, Joe and Az, plus the man with three top 300 finishes to his name, Peter Kouwenberg, expand on their notable selections and omissions in the article below.
The quartet have expensive tastes: the three most expensive Fantasy Premier League midfielders and the game’s costliest defender have all received four votes each.
If they are to make the cut for the Scout Squad tomorrow then savings must be made elsewhere, so the nomination of various Crystal Palace, Huddersfield Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers assets could come in handy.
|GK||Rui Patricio||Wayne Hennessey||Wayne Hennessey||Mathew Ryan|
|Wayne Hennessey||Jonas Lossl||Jonas Lossl||Martin Dubravka|
|Jonas Lossl||Lukasz Fabianski||Lukasz Fabianski||Jonas Lossl|
|DF||Marcos Alonso||Marcos Alonso||Marcos Alonso||Marcos Alonso|
|Andrew Robertson||Aymeric Laporte||Patrick van Aanholt||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Matt Doherty||Andrew Robertson||Andrew Robertson||Matt Doherty|
|Patrick van Aanholt||Aaron Wan-Bissaka||Matt Doherty||James Tomkins|
|Christopher Schindler||Matt Doherty||Ben Chilwell||Christopher Schindler|
|MF||Raheem Sterling||Eden Hazard||Raheem Sterling||Leroy Sane|
|Mohamed Salah||Raheem Sterling||Leroy Sane||Eden Hazard|
|Leroy Sane||Mohamed Salah||Eden Hazard||Mohamed Salah|
|Eden Hazard||Anthony Martial||Mohamed Salah||Raheem Sterling|
|Callum Paterson||Aaron Mooy||Anthony Martial||Anthony Martial|
|FW||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero|
|Marko Arnautovic||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Marko Arnautovic|
|Raul Jimenez||Jamie Vardy||Marko Arnautovic||Raul Jimenez|
|Roberto Firmino||Steve Mounie||Jamie Vardy||Wilfried Zaha|
|Wilfried Zaha||Raul Jimenez||Olivier Giroud||Salomon Rondon|
Most popular picks: Jonas Lossl, Marcos Alonso, Matt Doherty, Mohamed Salah, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero (four), Wayne Hennessey, Andrew Robertson, Leroy Sane, Anthony Martial, Raul Jimenez, Marko Arnautovic (three)
Finding a balance between Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea’s big-hitters will be the key to our Scout Picks in Gameweek 14, as all three have favourable home fixtures.
Seeking out one or two budget enablers will be equally vital and I reckon Christopher Schindler and Callum Paterson could come in handy this weekend.
Schindler has stolen under the radar ahead of a visit from Brighton.
Down to just £4.3m, he has 32 points in the last six Gameweeks and has earned at least two bonus points each time Huddersfield have claimed a clean sheet.
At £5.2m, Paterson could merit consideration if we opt to ignore the Wolves defence.
Moved up front for Cardiff, his total of 13 shots in the box is second only to Mohamed Salah (14) among midfielders in the last six Gameweeks.
Crystal Palace’s home clash with porous Burnley could also bring Patrick van Aanholt and Wilfried Zaha back into the points.
The Dutchman’s seven efforts on goal in the last four Gameweeks is ranked second among defenders, while Zaha’s eight key passes is top for forwards.
That’s all the more impressive when you consider their opponents were Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United, and suggests they can profit against the Clarets on Saturday afternoon.
After a punishing set of matches, the fixture list has finally turned in Crystal Palace’s favour, starting with an enticing home tie against Burnley.
I’m hoping the Scout Picks takes advantage of this by deploying one, or maybe both, of Eagles stopper Wayne Hennessey and full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
With three clean sheets during the London side’s strong start, a defensive double-up could be a smart move, with both this pair also favoured by the bonus points system.
Huddersfield also look a great team for bargain hunting for when Brighton drop by. Should Hennessey not find favour among my colleagues I’m hoping that Terriers stopper Jonas Lossl gets the nod, with two shutouts in his last three matches.
Their forward Steve Mounie’s assist against Wolves in Gameweek 13 has also caught my eye, as has his underlying statistics. The Benin international is joint-top for on-target headed goal attempts, while the Seagulls have the second-worst record for conceding headed shots on the road, with only Burnley proving more obliging.
I’ll no doubt be accused of points-chasing by including Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, who scored a brace against Wolves last time out. But the Australian’s penalty-taking duties could see him earn another haul this weekend, given that Brighton have conceded a record three spot-kicks.
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Matt Doherty and Raul Jiminez offer further savings, away to a Cardiff side with just one clean sheet at the Cardiff City Stadium and among the five poorest performers in terms of on-target shots at home.
Money saved here means there should be plenty to spare to take advantage of Chelsea’s strong home match with Fulham and Manchester City’s hosting of Bournemouth.
Given only Burnley have conceded more shots than the Cherries over the last quartet of fixtures, both Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero could be required here.
In addition, Mohamed Salah at home to Everton looks a great option, as does Harry Kane in the north London derby. The Spurs striker is top for shots and on-target efforts over the last four Gameweeks and has scored five times in his last six league encounters with the Gunners.
And so it begins, the Christmas madness. With Manchester City’s relentless form and a plethora of options, as well as the fixture swings for both Arsenal and Tottenham, things are going to get very interesting.
I’ve unsurprisingly gone all-out on the City attack, mostly to cover all bases as who knows who is going to start on Saturday. Anyone who plays looks set to do some real damage to Bournemouth and with Raheem Sterling‘s great record against them, I’m backing him to inflict some more misery on Eddie Howe’s men, who after such a good start have now lost their last couple of games in a row.
A few weeks ago, Chelsea v Fulham looked like it could be a massacre. But with the Blues sticking with Alvaro Morata and off the back of a humiliating defeat to Spurs – plus the ‘Ranieri’ effect – I’m wondering if this will be as straightforward as it might appear on paper. Add in an injury doubt to their key man, Eden Hazard, and things aren’t looking so rosy. Whatever happens though, you wouldn’t back against Marcos Alonso in this one. If he doesn’t make the Scout Picks, I riot.
Up front, Jamie Vardy has good fixtures and surely Maurizio Sarri will turn to Olivier Giroud and not persist with Mr Offside any more. I think if he plays, and plays well, he could be a strong option over Christmas as he looks to become the key man up front.
Elsewhere, Harry Kane has a great record in London derbies and seems to be hitting some form. I was tempted to go for him in the top spot over Sergio Aguero, but I’ll stick with Kun.
Marko Arnautovic makes a mid-table appearance in my picks. I’m still a bit unsure over his injury, so I think he’ll either play 90 minutes or won’t be in the squad. Time to strengthen those benches…
Fair play to you if your FPL side’s midfield matches my chosen five this week, with the three most-expensive midfield marauders joining a Frenchman (Anthony Martial) and a German (Leroy Sane) for a combined value of over well over half most players’ budget.
There are going to have to be some fairly drastic concessions elsewhere in the side to get even close to financial viability, particularly with Sergio Aguero and Marcos Alonso on the wishlist. The north London derby is therefore way out of my pay grade, despite Harry Kane hinting at a return to goalscoring form.
A recent Scout article suggested that (possibly) reports of Wolves’ defensive demise are premature and Matt Doherty’s underlying statistics (most shots on target and the second-highest number of chances created over the last six Gameweeks) have convinced me to hold onto the Irishman.
Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have both mustered a couple of shots on target in that period but the Englishman is cheaper and has created more chances (six) too, so he also makes the cut in my budget-friendly defence.
Chris Lowe would have got the nod as Huddersfield’s defender of choice, with the Terriers conceding the joint fewest number of big chances (six) as Manchester City in the last six Gameweeks. Injury doubts, however, mean that Christopher Schindler makes the cut, albeit with a reduced goal threat. Similarly, I would rather have benefitted from Patrick van Aanholt’s attacking threat against a Burnley side which looks abject at both ends of the pitch but have instead installed the forgotten man, James Tomkins, as a cheaper alternative.
Joining Aguero in my strikers’ selection is an affordable trio of front-men who face the most vulnerable opponents. Newcastle (17), Cardiff (21) and Burnley (24) have conceded the most big chances recently and Marko Arnautovic and Raul Jimenez have reasonable underlying statistics. And then there’s Wilfried Zaha…
Next on the list for big chances conceded are Jose Mourinho’s men and, with the visiting Saints firing more shots on target recently (32) than any side bar the two Manchester clubs, there is at least an argument that Danny Ings (if fit) should sneak into the fifth spot. However, even with United’s well-documented defensive frailties, it feels somehow disrespectful to call up a striker from a team in the relegation zone as they travel to Old Trafford, so instead, Salomon Rondon makes a rueful appearance in fifth place.
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