The Scout Squad panel return to offer their long-list of players to be considered for our regular Scout Picks feature, which will be published on Friday ahead of the weekend’s Premier League matches.
The 72 nominations listed will be narrowed down to a squad of 14 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83.5m) ahead of the Gameweek 26 deadline at 11:30 GMT on Saturday.
Joe, Peter, Paul and Neale (in for the unavailable Az) expand on their notable selections and omissions in the article below.
|GK||Hugo Lloris||Mathew Ryan||Ben Foster||Tom Heaton|
|Vicente Guaita||Vicente Guaita||Vicente Guaita||Alex McCarthy|
|Alex McCarthy||Ben Foster||Mathew Ryan||Mathew Ryan|
|DF||Andrew Robertson||Andrew Robertson||Andrew Robertson||Matt Doherty|
|Matt Doherty||Sead Kolasinac||Sead Kolasinac||Sead Kolasinac|
|Jose Holebas||Matt Doherty||Matt Doherty||Andrew Robertson|
|Patrick van Aanholt||Shane Duffy||Aaron Wan-Bissaka||Shane Duffy|
|Sead Kolasinac||Jan Bednarek||Matt Targett||Patrick van Aanholt|
|MF||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Paul Pogba|
|Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Paul Pogba||Mohamed Salah|
|Paul Pogba||Paul Pogba||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min|
|Diogo Jota||Pascal Gross||Pascal Gross||Sadio Mane|
|James Ward-Prowse||Diogo Jota||Sadio Mane||Joao Moutinho|
|FW||Marcus Rashford||Marcus Rashford||Marcus Rashford||Marcus Rashford|
|Sergio Aguero||Alexandre Lacazette||Pierre-Emerick|
|Raul Jimenez||Roberto Firmino||Wilfried Zaha||Ashley Barnes|
|Fernando Llorente||Raul Jimenez||Fernando Llorente||Raul Jimenez|
Most popular picks: Andrew Robertson, Sead Kolasinac, Matt Doherty, Paul Pogba, Son Heung-min, Mohamed Salah, Marcus Rashford, Raul Jimenez (four), Vicente Guaita, Mathew Ryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (three)
Manchester City’s home match with Chelsea is perhaps best avoided in this week’s Scout Picks, as a number of their rivals appear to offer far more favourable fixtures.
Aside from the usual list of in-form FPL favourites, there are a handful of options I reckon are worth covering in this article.
Jose Holebas has now been involved in ten goals this season, at least two more than any other FPL defender.
The Watford left-back has upped his form at both ends of the pitch of late, with two assists and two clean sheets in the last four Gameweeks.
His delivery from dead-ball situations looks likely to trouble Everton at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Indeed, Holebas is ranked second overall for chances created from set-pieces this season – his total of 24 is bettered only by the 29 of Leicester’s James Maddison.
James Ward-Prowse is seeking his third successive double-figure haul at St Mary’s this weekend.
The Southampton midfielder has scored in three of the last four Gameweeks ahead of a visit from Cardiff.
Since securing a regular role under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, Ward-Prowse has created 12 chances in the last six Gameweeks – at least twice the total of any other Saints’ player.
Glenn Murray’s output at the Amex could prove the difference for Brighton at home to Burnley.
The veteran has struck seven goals in front of his own fans – that’s level with Raul Jimenez, for example, and places fourth among FPL forwards.
Encouragingly for Murray, the Seagulls’ playmaker Pascal Gross looks back to his best.
The German has created 20 chances in the last six Gameweeks, more than any other player. That raises Brighton’s prospects of getting the better of Tom Heaton in the visitors’ goal.
Brighton look a good team for bargain hunting this week, with Pascal Gross looking particularly enticing when Burnley drop by. Over the last four Gameweeks no other player can beat his 17 chances created. The German playmaker has also registered a goal, assist and six bonus points since Gameweek 23.
I’ve also included his team-mates Mathew Ryan and Shane Duffy as value options, especially as the Clarets’ attack has been lacklustre on the road recently, with only Newcastle shooting less often over their last six away days.
Wolves offer cheap options across a number of positions, with Fantasy managers who have tripled-up on my picks of Matt Doherty, Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez prospering of late. Between them they have amassed six goals and four assists over the last three Gameweeks.
Such savings will be needed given premium options including Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have favourable matches.
The Egyptian winger takes on a Bournemouth side he scored a hat-trick against in the reverse fixture and which has shipped a record 18 goals over their last half-dozen away games. I’m not put off by Salah’s lack of goals in his last two fixtures, having notched six double-digit Fantasy Premier League points hauls in his previous eight league encounters.
Arsenal’s talisman also looks primed to add to his 15-goal tally this season against a Terriers’ side with only four clean sheets in 2018/19 and seemingly preparing for life in the Championship next term.
It doesn’t sit right to go without any Manchester City representation this weekend, even though the visit of Chelsea could prove a stern test and second-guessing Pep Guardiola’s line-up is an impossible task.
Having been benched against Everton, I’d fully expect Raheem Sterling to start against the Blues and, if deployed on the right (which is far from assured), wreak havoc on the brittle Marcos Alonso.
With premium options such as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Paul Pogba and Son Heung-min soaking up much of the budget in midfield, however, I’ve reluctantly omitted Sterling from my picks.
I actually don’t think Son’s fixture is all that good – Leicester have massively impressed against Manchester United and especially Liverpool in the last week, conceding just two goals and as many big chances against the free-scoring pair combined.
Only the current top four have shipped fewer goals than the Foxes in 2018/19 but Son’s amazingly consistent returns over the last three months have come against defences of all abilities and he bagged a 14-point haul in the reverse fixture.
I’ve gone with the more budget-friendly Alexandre Lacazette over Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang this week as I wonder if Arsenal’s capture of Denis Suarez – who Unai Emery said was brought in to bolster his options on either flank – will lead to the deployment of a system with more width against Huddersfield, perhaps meaning a role out wide for the Gabonese forward (not that he’s incapable of doing damage from there).
Since Gameweek 14, Lacazette hasn’t gone more than one match without an attacking return.
I picked out Pascal Gross in my Spot the Differential piece last week and the German midfielder delivered everything but an attacking return in the 0-0 draw with Watford, being rewarded for his ten key passes with maximum bonus.
Burnley rank third-bottom for chances conceded from set plays over the last six Gameweeks so this could be the week for Gross to deliver.
Matt Targett is my leftfield pick this week: the budget Southampton defender, who is playing in an advanced role at wing-back, sits joint-second for chances created over the last two Gameweeks, having supplied five key passes (two of which were “big chances”).
The Saints are up against a Cardiff side that have scored fewer away goals than any other Premier League side in 2018/19.
Wilfried Zaha has been far from prolific this season but has looked better – and delivered attacking returns – when he has a bona fide centre-forward to play off.
Zaha had a semi-decent opening seven Gameweeks of the season alongside Christian Benteke or Jordan Ayew and registered three attacking returns in four Gameweeks alongside the latter after Ayew’s return to the starting XI in Gameweek 21.
With Benteke fit again and Michy Batshuayi added to the striker ranks, Zaha might well start delivering on that largely untapped Fantasy potential on a more consistent basis.
Despite the success of several (but not all!) key Manchester City and Chelsea assets last week, their meeting at the Etihad is a game which I am avoiding in my usual “pragmatic” fashion.
Instead, I’m investing heavily in four of the top six attacks over the last six matches, three of which face up against the most porous defences over the same period.
Like Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise and, er, Ant and Dec, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have become an easy go-to double act offering budget, form and fixtures, particularly as they visit a Fulham team who continue to “top” the charts for goals conceded, big chances and a host of other defensive frailties.
I’m also pairing Sadio Mane and a slightly frustrating Mohamed Salah against a Cherries side which has conceded more goals in the last six (11) than any side except Fulham and Huddersfield (12 each). Despite their slight wobble recently, Liverpool are outscoring every other side except Manchester City and Wolves, and Salah’s hat-trick and 21-point haul in the reverse fixture may also be playing on my mind.
Wolves arguably face the most obdurate defence of my fabulous foursome, with Newcastle mid-table for goals conceded over their last six away fixtures. During those games, though, they have allowed 18 big chances, behind only the aforementioned Cherries and Lillywhites, which gives me hope that Raul Jimenez can profit and that Matt Doherty has saved some goals for the league. Diogo Jota would be an obvious candidate to join them, but subject to any updates on Jota’s fitness, Joao Moutinho is an in-form alternative.
Having backed Arsenal heavily in my last selections – partly because I had the pleasure of enjoying their match against Cardiff live – I go for the same trio of Sead Kolasinac, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. In truth, they didn’t really pass the eye test, particularly in the first half, and even less so in last week’s match against the champions.
Yet, who can overlook a fixture against a Terriers team which has allowed 21 big chances at home over their last six fixtures, particularly if Aubameyang can convert a few more of his table-topping 25 big chances for the season. I will, however, be keeping an eye on Kolasinac’s selection and positioning with Nacho Monreal releasing the Bosnian to virtually play alongside Aubameyang against City – a scenario which would bring as many dangers as opportunities were it to continue.
Finally, a quick mention for Ashley Barnes, who could and should have recorded a double-figure haul against Southampton (Anthony Taylor owes my FPL team for that, although I probably should be grateful that the man in black didn’t send Barnes off for his protests). A trip to Brighton isn’t the easiest but Barnes has recorded ten big chances and 21 attempts (12 on target) over his last six matches and is locked into my own team again.
The Community Champion
This week’s contender is Pep Pig, who had some success with a triple captaincy of Raheem Sterling in Gameweek 25.
The Community Champion who has the best lead over the Scouts during 2018/19 will win a £100 Amazon voucher (currently we can only offer Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com vouchers).
Last weekend, Joax2, thrashed our Scout Picks 86-56 with a 3-4-3 line-up of Alisson (2); van Aanholt (6), Laporte (20), Duffy (6), Trippier (8); Sané (1), Hazard (15), Sigurdsson (3), Sterling (11); Higuain (13), Ayew (1).
fclackless’s Gameweek 10 victory over the Scout Squad crew by a score of 77-44 remains the deficit to beat, however.
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