With the dust still settling on Gameweek 15, the Scout Squad panel return to offer their long-list of players to be considered for our regular Scout Picks feature before “we go again” this weekend.
The 72 nominations will be narrowed down to a squad of 14 (with the starting XI not exceeding £83m) ahead of the Gameweek 16 deadline at 11:30 GMT on Saturday.
Regulars Joe, Az and Peter – who have five top 1k finishes between them – are this week joined by myself, filling in for the unavailable Paul.
The panel expands on their notable selections and omissions in the article below.
|GK||Lukasz Fabianski||Lukasz Fabianski||Bernd Leno||Lukasz Fabianski|
|Jordan Pickford||Jordan Pickford||Lukasz Fabianski||Joe Hart|
|Joe Hart||Martin Dubravka||Joe Hart||Jordan Pickford|
|DF||Matt Doherty||Sead Kolasinac||Hector Bellerin||Lucas Digne|
|Lucas Digne||Dejan Lovren||Lucas Digne||Sead Kolasinac|
|Sead Kolasinac||Lucas Digne||Matt Doherty||Matt Doherty|
|Chris Smalling||Cedric Soares||Lewis Dunk||Fabian Balbuena|
|Sean Morrison||Leon Balogun||Sean Morrison||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|MF||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Raheem Sterling||Mohamed Salah|
|Raheem Sterling||Son Heung-min||Mohamed Salah||Gylfi Sigurdsson|
|Gylfi Sigurdsson||Anthony Martial||Gylfi Sigurdsson||Raheem Sterling|
|Felipe Anderson||Felipe Anderson||Felipe Anderson||Felipe Anderson|
|Callum Paterson||Raheem Sterling||Callum Paterson||JB Gudmundsson|
|FW||Harry Kane||PE Aubameyang||Alexandre Lacazette||PE Aubameyang|
|Alexandre Lacazette||Alexandre Lacazette||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|PE Aubameyang||Harry Kane||Raul Jimenez||Raul Jimenez|
|Romelu Lukaku||Javier Hernandez||Salomon Rondon||Alexandre Lacazette|
|Raul Jimenez||Salomon Rondon||Callum Wilson||Salomon Rondon|
Most popular picks: Lukasz Fabianski, Lucas Digne, Mohamed Salah, Felipe Anderson, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Alexandre Lacazette (four), Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford, Matt Doherty, Sead Kolasinac, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Raul Jimenez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Salomon Rondon (three)
The balance of power switches firmly to premium strikers this week as Harry Kane looks for his sixth goal in seven league games when Spurs travel to Leicester.
With Barcelona up next a few days later in the Champions League, the striker could see his minutes curtailed but I think he’ll start against one of his favourite clubs to score against. Over his last three league encounters with the Foxes, Kane has scored an impressive seven times.
Arsenal’s home tie with Huddersfield looks irresistible. I’m advocating fielding both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette for this.
The latter looks set to start, after making an impact with an assist off the bench against Manchester United last time out. Even if his strike partner misses out on a first XI berth I’m still confident of returns, after the Gabon international delivered two double-digit scores in a row as a substitute in Gameweeks 8 and 9.
If my colleagues only opt for one of this Gunners duo I’m backing Romelu Lukaku to take a striker’s spot for Fulham’s visit. A brief 27-minute run-out against Arsenal, plus a possible injury to Anthony Martial, should ensure he returns to the starting line-up. With attacking returns in two of his last four appearances, he should prosper against a Fulham side that has yet to record a clean sheet under new boss Claudio Ranieri.
Wolves once again provide value.
Attacking points in each of their last two matches sees both Matt Doherty and Raul Jiminez win my support for their trip to Newcastle.
Cardiff look another good team for bargain-hunting as they host a Southampton side that won’t have had much time to get used to the tactics of new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl. Should the Saints breach the Welsh side’s backline then defender Sean Morrison could still notch points, having earned assists in each of his last two starts. Callum Paterson could also prosper up front, with three goals in his last seven matches.
Elsewhere, Mohamed Salah’s benching against Burnley gives me confidence he will start and do well away to a Bournemouth side that has conceded more shots in the box than any other team over the last four Gameweeks. In fact, the Cherries last earned a clean sheet back in Gameweek 10.
I can’t see many clean sheets as this hectic week of Premier League action comes to a head, so I’m happy to spend in my attacking slots as I look for some budget defenders.
Sead Kolasinac is a player I’m strongly considering in my own team, and his fixtures and attacking intent look to make a mockery of his £4.9m price tag. In fact, all my chosen defenders are under £5.0m and present good value for money, as well as seemingly secure starting spots.
In midfield, I’ve backed Mohamed Salah as my number one pick, despite taking him out of my own team last week. Jurgen Klopp has looked to rest his squad against Burnley, so you have to expect a strong starting line-up when they visit the Cherries. But Son Heung-min, Anthony Martial and Felipe Anderson aren’t far behind, and also offer great points potential for a fraction of the price. Raheem Sterling sees himself fifth but has to be included after having a nice night off against Watford – he looks certain to play and cause the Chelsea full-backs some real trouble.
Up front, the Alexandre Lacazette v Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang debate rages on – so I’ve gone for both of them. Lacazette didn’t start against United, but will surely be let off the leash against Huddersfield. This looks like it could be a rout, so doubling or even tripling up on Arsenal in this game and beyond looks a very viable strategy.
Harry Kane loves scoring against Leicester and rewarded those who brought him in early against Southampton. An injury to Marko Arnautovic also makes Javier Hernandez and Lucas Perez attractive options. Both of these West Ham strikers are the same price and are in decent form, as is Salomon Rondon, who is doing well for Newcastle at the moment.
Anyone who miraculously survived the carnage of Gameweek 15 need only look as far as last week’s Picks for evidence of the treacherous waters which we will be navigating into the Christmas period. Four players failed to start, two withdrew with injuries and one saw red meaning that the average minutes played across the 14-strong squad was just over 57! As context for some of my selections this week, it’s safety first but with everything firmly crossed.
Riding the coat-tails of the opposition of Fulham and Cardiff has proven a winning strategy for much of the season, but not so this week. A fit and firing forward from the Red Devils would be licking his lips as the Lilywhites pay a visit but FPL managers are left ruing a lack of form (Romelu Lukaku), lack of fitness (Anthony Martial) and lack of form or fitness (Alexis Sanchez).
We also await evidence that the Saints – under their new manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl – will experience any new manager bounce. As a result, it’s Cardiff who provide my only players from these two fixtures, with Sean Morrison and Callum Paterson respectively creeping into the fifth defender and midfielder spots.
It speaks volumes that the one fixture I’m confident enough to triple up for is the Terriers visit to the Emirates. Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin and Alexandre Lacazette all come in as my top picks, although I’ll be hoping for my own FPL team that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang avoids any spectre of rotation.
My midfield top choice goes to Raheem Sterling despite a tricky visit to Chelsea. After sitting out Tuesday’s victory against Watford, the England man will be keen to pick up where he left off as City pay a visit to a Chelsea team which conceded twice against Wolves on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, I have double hopes for the Hammers (hosting Palace), Wolves (away at Newcastle) and Everton (who entertain the Hornets), although for me there are very few standout players this Gameweek.
I’m backing Wolverhampton Wanderers against my own side this weekend.
Although Salomon Rondon features in my 18-man squad (as filler, as much as anything else), I sense Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez could repeat their midweek heroics and leave Tyneside with more than mere appearance points.
Newcastle United appear more at ease in away matches or in fixtures against the “big six” and I think Rafael Benitez struggles to balance his instinct to play conservative football with the palpable pressure to attack when the Magpies host sides around them in the Premier League table.
West Ham United and Leicester City have exploited that uncertainty at St. James’ Park this season, while Watford should have been out of sight at half-time in a game Newcastle somehow ended up winning.
Newcastle are particularly vulnerable at set plays and in the air, so Jimenez (ranked joint-third for headed attempts among FPL forwards) may benefit from those shortcomings.
Doherty could have a field day against makeshift left-back/wing-back Javier Manquillo, meanwhile, if Paul Dummett fails to recover from injury.
I’m anticipating a top-heavy Scout Picks in Gameweek 16 so I’ve focused on cut-price options at the back and between the sticks.
I’d be happy with either of Lukasz Fabianski or Fabian Balbuena (hopefully recalled after a rest in midweek) as the West Ham representative against a Crystal Palace side who were disappointingly poor in the M23 derby – the Eagles only breaching the Brighton defence from the penalty spot despite playing for over an hour with a man advantage.
Lucas Digne is my number one pick in defence after a luckless week for the Frenchman. Digne was seconds away from a nine-point haul in the Merseyside derby and ought to have emerged from the draw with Newcastle on Wednesday with at least one assist to his name (Cenk Tosun and Gylfi Sigurdsson spurning the two “big chances” he created), so I sense he’s “due” a sizeable return against a Watford side who are winless in five and who have conceded more big chances than all bar four teams during that spell.
Bournemouth conceded 17 shots in the box at home to Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night, which elevated a rested Mohamed Salah to my number one pick in midfield – despite the fact I will likely be ditching the Egyptian on a wildcard this week.
The cases of Raheem Sterling, Felipe Anderson and Sigurdsson need little explanation, while I’ve plumped for Johann Berg Gudmundsson as my fifth midfielder given that the Iceland international could potentially exploit a Brighton side missing Shane Duffy and who have conceded more attempts from set plays than all teams bar Newcastle.
I’m keeping our options open re Arsenal assets by covering both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette but I’m keen to see Sead Kolasinac make the final cut: over the last four Gameweeks, no FPL defender has racked up more key passes, big chances created or penalty box touches than the Arsenal wing-back. While Nacho Monreal’s imminent return to fitness may concern prospective Fantasy owners, I wonder if we will instead see the Spanish defender deputise for the injured Rob Holding at left centre-back rather than share wing-back duties with Kolasinac over the festive period.
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