Another Fantasy Premier League Gameweek is approaching us at breakneck speed so we’ve again put our heads together to come up with a Scout Picks selection ahead of the deadline on New Year’s Day morning.
Our chosen 11 players for Gameweek 21 line up in a formation of 3-4-3, with three uber-premium players taking us right up to the £83.0m budget.
Because of the tight turn-around over Christmas, this line-up was assembled by a select few within the Fantasy Football Scout editorial team rather than the usual Scout Squad.
It seems like overthinking to ignore the appeal of Lukasz Fabianski (£4.7m) given that West Ham United take on far-from-prolific travellers in the form of Brighton and Hove Albion, but a dismal defensive display against Burnley in Gameweek 20 and one home shut-out in 2018/19 has influenced our decision.
Tom Heaton (£4.8m) gets our nod instead, with the Clarets taking on a Huddersfield Town side who have scored only four goals on home soil this season – by far the worst record in the division.
The Terriers have registered fewer big chances and scored fewer goals than any Premier League over the last six Gameweeks and indeed season, with neither Steve Mounie (£5.8m) nor Laurent Depoitre (£5.1m) having found the back of the net this campaign.
Not renowned for their impressive underlying defensive statistics, Burnley have nevertheless kept four clean sheets in ten meetings with sides currently ranked in the bottom half of the table and reduced the Hammers to a single big chance in their 2-0 win on Sunday.
Lucas Digne (£5.2m) has recorded more key passes, big chances and crosses than any other defender in 2018/19 and hasn’t gone more than two Gameweeks without blanking since establishing himself in the Everton side.
While the Toffees haven’t kept a clean in their last seven Premier League matches they next face a Leicester City side who rank 18th for penalty box touches over the last six Gameweeks.
Only Huddersfield (three) have scored fewer goals than the Foxes (four) during that period and just three sides have attempted fewer shots in the box.
Matt Doherty‘s (£5.2m) record points haul this season came in Wolves ‘ 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in Gameweek 8 and the Eagles head to Molineux this weekend for the return fixture.
With assists against Chelsea and Spurs in recent weeks, the Irish wing-back has proven that he can bank attacking returns against pretty much any team in the top flight. No FPL defender has had more shots than Doherty this season.
He would seem to stand a decent chance of recording a rare clean sheet, too, with Roy Hodgson’s side having failed to score in their last two matches and ranking joint-bottom for shots on target over the last six Gameweeks.
Marcos Alonso‘s (£6.8m) stock has taken a tumble in recent months with the Chelsea left-back having not posted an attacking return since Gameweek 11.
Alonso’s underlying stats over the last half-dozen matches have flattered to deceive too, though the Spanish left-back has twice hit the woodwork over the Christmas period and just two FPL defenders have clocked up more touches in the final third over the last six Gameweeks.
He is also part of a Blues defence that has kept more clean sheets than all teams bar Liverpool in 2018/19.
Two midfielders who were rested to the bench in Gameweek 20 make the selection this week.
Ryan Fraser (£6.1m) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) will surely return to their respective sides’ line-ups in Gameweek 21.
The Bournemouth midfielder has carved out more big chances than any other player in 2018/19 and the Cherries are up against a Watford side with only one clean sheet in their last ten matches.
The Hornets sit in the bottom six for big chances conceded and shots in the box conceded over the last half-dozen Gameweeks.
Sigurdsson meanwhile ranks fourth among FPL midfielders for shots on goal this season and has form against the Foxes, having scored against them in the reverse fixture in October.
Only two sides have allowed more shots from outside the box than Leicester in the last six Gameweeks, while 21 of Sigurdsson’s 47 attempts on goal this season have come from outside the opposition area.
Eden Hazard (£11.1m) was the first name on the teamsheet this week, with little concern over whether he’s farmed out to the left wing or deployed centrally.
Southampton have gone ten games without a clean sheet in the Premier League, with no other club in the division on such a barren run.
No FPL asset has created more opportunities over the last six Gameweeks, while the Belgian has himself been presented with more big chances than any other Premier League player over the last four matches.
Paul Pogba‘s (£8.2m) inclusion was a given this week too, with the Frenchman having accrued a remarkable 46 FPL points over the last three Gameweeks – almost half his season’s total.
Over one million Fantasy managers have bought the former Juventus midfielder in the last nine days, with Pogba having registered four goals and as many assists since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge.
During that time, Pogba ranks top for shots on target and joint-top for chances created among all FPL players.
Raul Jimenez (£6.3m) has registered an attacking return in ten of his last 15 Premier League starts and provided the assist for Doherty’s goal when Wolves last met Crystal Palace.
Only Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.7m) has had more shots in the opposition box than the Mexican striker over the last six Gameweeks.
While Harry Kane (£12.6m) didn’t register a single penalty box touch in the defeat to Jimenez’s side in Gameweek 20, he nevertheless kept up a remarkable run of returning a goal and/or assist in each of his last nine Premier League starts.
The England striker has eight goals and four assists during that run.
Spurs tomorrow play a Cardiff side who, despite coming into this match off the back of successive clean sheets, have nevertheless allowed more attempts on goal and shots in the box than all other Premier League sides over the last two Gameweeks.
Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m) completes our line-up, with budgetary restraints meaning we couldn’t afford Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.4m).
The Gabonese forward has had more big chances than any other Premier League player over the last six Gameweeks but he could be joined (or even replaced) in the Arsenal attack by Lacazette tomorrow, with the Frenchman having been rested to the bench at Anfield on Saturday.
Lacazette and Aubameyang scored 12 and 15 points respectively when the Gunners last met Fulham, though they can of course expect a rougher ride at the Emirates given the improvements the Cottagers have made over Christmas.
Lacazette has been involved in five Arsenal goals over the last seven Gameweeks, despite not lasting 90 minutes in any of those matches.
A bit of a gamble this one, but Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.2m) could well benefit from Mauricio Pochettino’s frequent full-back rotation when Cardiff visit Wembley tomorrow.
The budget defender registered three assists, a clean sheet and maximum bonus on his last league start and proved himself a capable deputy to Kieran Trippier (£6.1m).
The Spurs boss complained of fatigue affecting his side after the defeat to Wolves and would seem set to make a number of changes tomorrow, with Spurs having the joint-fewest number of rest days over the Christmas break.
No team has scored fewer away goals than the Bluebirds this season.
Bournemouth’s problems at right-back (their two regular options being sidelined for the rest of 2018/19) means that Jordon Ibe (£5.0m) could again get a run-out on that flank in Gameweek 21.
We’re backing Roberto Pereyra (£6.2m) to make hay down Watford’s left on Wednesday, with the Cherries having conceded more goals than any other Premier League club over the last six Gameweeks.
Only four midfielders have had more shots in the box than Pereyra over the last six Gameweeks.
Arsenal’s shambolic defensive display against Liverpool has persuaded us to take a punt on Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.7m) for Fulham’s visit to the Emirates.
The Gunners’ centre-back injury crisis shows no sign of easing, while Mitrovic has had more attempts on goal and shots in the box than any other FPL asset in the last six Gameweeks.
Due to the quick turnaround, there is no Community Champion for Gameweek 21.
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