We are bringing you our best XI for Gameweek 18 several hours earlier than usual because of the Friday night deadline.
As usual, we have assessed the squad of players submitted by our Scout Squad panel Paul, Joe, Az and Peter to come up with the optimum line-up.
We are inside our budget of £83m this week, and are lining up in the traditional Fantasy formation of 3-4-3.
Lukasz Fabianski (£4.7m) was the most popular goalkeeper with our Scout Squad this week, with two of them picking him as the best option between the sticks, while Joe had him as the second choice. The West Ham shot-stopper has recorded a minimum of eight points in three of his last four Premier League outings and prepares to face a Watford side with two blanks in their three most recent away trips.
Aymeric Laporte (£6.1m) is our Manchester City representative for Gameweek 18 after Joe and Peter picked him out as the best defender this weekend. The Frenchman is easily the most assured of a start even during this busy Christmas period. Pep Guardiola’s defending champions may be without a clean sheet since Gameweek 13, but the visit of Crystal Palace seems to be the ideal time to record their ninth of the season. Only Huddersfield have scored fewer goals than the Eagles in 2018/19.
Stephan Lichtsteiner (£4.5m) comes into the Scout Picks XI for the first time ever, as we look to cover the Arsenal defence in Gameweek 18. Sead Kolasinac was actually the player chosen by our Scout Squad panel with Paul and Az tipping him as the best defender for the weekend. However, with Kolasinac still a slight doubt in our minds for the visit of goal-shy Burnley (Emery “thinks” he will be okay to play rather than declaring him 100% fit), we’ve gone for the safer option. Lichtsteiner looks to be the only option available at right-back, with Hector Bellerín now ruled-out, which is more can be said for the left-flank where either Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal or Ainsley Maitland-Niles are likely to be used.
Matt Targett (£4.2m) played his way into our thinking for Gameweek 18 after his impressive display against Arsenal. With Ryan Bertrand currently out of the Southampton team, Targett has made the left-back spot his own and has been offering some creative potential too. The Saints have a real chance of showing what defensive improvements they have made under new manager Ralph Hasenhütll this weekend too, as they travel to face the division’s lowest scorers Huddersfield. The Terriers have found the net just three times at home in 2018/19 thus far.
Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) is the first of our Manchester City double-up as Crystal Palace prepare to visit the home of the champions. Guardiola’s men have scored five goals against the Eagles each of the last two times they came to the Etihad Stadium, and the way they are playing there this season suggests we could be in for another goal-fest. After having some rest against Everton and Leicester midweek, Sterling should be preparing to start Gameweek 18, especially with his direct competition in Riyad Mahrez playing the full 90 in the EFL Cup. In his last six Premier League starts he has five goals and five assists and it should be no surprise that the Englishman was unanimously tipped as the best midfield option by our Scout Squad panel this week.
Eden Hazard (£11.0m) also forced a unanimous decision out of our pundits, with all four of them selecting him as the second-best option for Gameweek 18. The Chelsea midfielder is in very reliable form having recorded five assists and a goal in his last four matches. That stems from some very impressive underlying statistics both for goal threat and creativity, meaning he is one of the likeliest players to get a double-figure haul this weekend.
Leroy Sané (£9.7m) completes our Manchester City contingent as they prepare to host Crystal Palace. Once again, it was a unanimous decision from the Scout Squad panel with all four of our pundits putting Sané in the box for third-choice. The German international has been keeping pace with Sterling’s underlying statistics in recent weeks, as Fantasy Football Scout members will know more about from the latest Captain Sensible article, making him just as likely to deliver as his English colleague. We think Sané is more likely to start as well, having had his minutes managed at Everton and absent from the EFL Cup win.
Ryan Fraser (£6.3m) and his Bournemouth colleagues may be on the chopping block for some Fantasy managers, but we believe Gameweek 18 is the right time for faith in your Cherries assets. They host a Brighton and Hove Albion team allowing more shots from set pieces than any other side in away games this season. This is where Fraser specialises as Bournemouth’s corner taker, so we’re expecting him to continue ticking over for the campaign on Saturday, with Joe and Az his backers.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.5m) is another player who should be regarded with patience by his owners. The Arsenal man has received the backing of all four of our Scout Squad pundits this week, with Joe, Az and Peter picking him as the best option, Paul the second-best. Aubameyang has been unfortunate not to have scored since his Gameweek 14 brace against Spurs and we believe that a home match against Burnley, who are still giving away plenty of chances, is the opportunity he needs to get back in the goals.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (£6.5m) is our West Ham representative this week, ahead of that visit of Watford to the London Stadium. The Mexican forward has scored three times and assisted twice in his last four matches and he continues to appear the first choice for the Hammers with Marko Arnautovic out. Meanwhile, the Hornets have just one clean sheet away from home this season and are likely to concede in the wake of Manuel Pellegrini’s in-form attacking side.
Salomón Rondón (£5.9m) completes our Scout Picks XI for Gameweek 18 as Newcastle face Fulham at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon. The Cottagers have conceded an average of 2.67 goals per away match this season, suggesting that there are attacking returns on offer for the Magpies this weekend. Rondón is easily their in-form man with a goal or an assist in each of his last three Premier League outings, and underlying statistics which suggest that output is sustainable.
David Luiz (£5.8m) could be the man to capitalise on Leicester’s troubles in front of goal in Gameweek 18. The Foxes come to Stamford Bridge on the back of successive blanks while fitness doubts remain over Jamie Vardy.
We would have loved to include Felipe Anderson (£7.4m) but just ran out of funds to do so following his most recent price rise. We feel we have sufficient cover in Hernandez but have to point out the Brazilian was well-backed by our pundits, three of them asking for him to be included. Indeed, he has two goals and two assists in his last four appearances.
Marcus Rashford (£6.9m) looks likely to start for Manchester United in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge and stands a decent chance of getting some attacking returns, with his accuracy in recent weeks. Ultimately what cost him a place in the full XI was the uncertainty around the Red Devils with Solskjaer’s impact as yet hard to measure.
Representing the community against the Scout Picks in Gameweek 18 is ochili. He has opted for a 3-4-3 formation of: Leno; Luiz, Lovren, Delph; Fraser, Sterling, Hazard, Pogba; Rashford, Wilson, Aguero.
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 Scouts have won nine and lost seven so far, with #FPLGuru defeated 47-43 in Gameweek 17.
fclackless‘s winning margin of 33 points (77-44) in Gameweek 10 is the current target to beat.
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