This regular precursor to the Scout Picks returns ahead of Gameweek 32, which happens to be the biggest Double Gameweek of 2018/19.
In this article, our four regular panellists each submit an 18-man squad of Fantasy assets, with the focus exclusively on the coming Gameweek.
The 72 nominations listed below will be narrowed down to a squad of 14 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83.5m) ahead of the forthcoming deadline at 11:30 GMT on Saturday.
Paul, Peter, Joe and Az expand on their notable selections and omissions in the article below.
|GK||Kepa Arrizabalaga||Ederson||Kepa Arrizabalaga||Ederson|
David de Gea
|Ben Foster||Ben Foster|
|Ben Foster||Ben Foster||Mathew Ryan||Mathew Ryan|
|DF||Aymeric Laporte||Cesar Azpilicueta||Cesar Azpilicueta||Cesar Azpilicueta|
|David Luiz||David Luiz||Kieran Trippier||
|Ashley Young||Jeffrey Schlupp||Jeffrey Schlupp||Victor Lindelof|
|Kieran Trippier||Kieran Trippier||Diogo Dalot||Kieran Trippier|
|Jeffrey Schlupp||Shane Duffy||Shane Duffy||Sead Kolasinac|
|MF||Raheem Sterling||Raheem Sterling||Raheem Sterling||Raheem Sterling|
|Eden Hazard||Eden Hazard||Eden Hazard||Eden Hazard|
|Paul Pogba||Paul Pogba||David Silva||Paul Pogba|
|Gerard Deulofeu||Christian Eriksen||Son Heung-min||Diogo Jota|
|Ryan Babel||Luka Milivojevic||Diogo Jota||Luka Milivojevic|
|FW||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero|
|Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Marcus Rashford||Romelu Lukaku|
|Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Marcus Rashford||Raul Jimenez||Raul Jimenez||Wilfried Zaha|
|Michy Batshuayi||Michy Batshuayi||Michy Batshuayi||Gonzalo Higuain|
Most popular picks: Ben Foster, Jeffrey Schlupp, Kieran Trippier, Raheem Sterling, Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane (four), Cesar Azpilicueta, Paul Pogba, Raul Jimenez, Michy Batshuayi, Marcus Rashford (three)
For the number of managers intent on playing the Free Hit chip in Gameweek 32, my squad will have a familiar ring to it.
Seeking out differentials looks a tougher task for the biggest Double Gameweek of 2018/19, so I’ve thrown in a few snippets that might raise the allure of some of the players above.
Ashley Young has averaged a key pass every 52 minutes under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – the same as Paul Pogba. When it comes to chances created for Manchester United, Young is second only to the Frenchman (18 to 22) since Jose Mourinho departed.
Since being moved into midfield in Gameweek 25, Jeffrey Schlupp ranks among the top five FPL defenders for both shots and chances created, with ten apiece.
Ryan Babel has recorded seven big chances since making his Fulham debut in Gameweek 23 – only Sadio Mane, with eight, has managed more among FPL midfielders. Indeed, from that point onwards, the Dutchman has matched Raheem Sterling for shots on goal (18 apiece) and has fired just one fewer effort in the box (12 to 13).
Harry Kane has scored in three of his last four visits to Anfield. In Spurs’ last season at White Hart Lane (2016/17), Kane averaged a goal at home every 78.2 minutes. Yet in their temporary home at Wembley, those numbers tumbled to 112.7 minutes per goal last term and 162.7 this time around.
I’m not interested in single Gameweekers during this latest, bumper set of fixtures. The Scout Picks needs to be fully focused on those with the chance of playing twice.
Triple-ups for Chelsea (car, BRI) and Manchester City (
For the Blues, I’m advocating a single attacker in Eden Hazard, who racked up a sensational 33 points across the reverse fixtures, and a defensive double-up.
Two clean sheets look a real possibility for Maurizio Sarri’s troops given that their opponents are the two worst sides this season in terms of on-target efforts.
My City trio includes this week’s two best captain picks, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero. David and I discuss at length on this week’s captaincy video and podcast why both of these players are surely must-haves.
While an attacking triple-up including David or Bernardo Silva is tempting, I prefer the value offered by Ederson who, as with the Blues’ backline, looks primed to collect two sets of shut-out points.
Thanks to Wolves and Watford’s focus on the FA Cup semi-final, Manchester United also have a favourable pair of ties. Paul Pogba should prosper but I’ve dropped him to
Whichever of Romelu Lukaku or Marcus Rashford is fit, should be included. If both are given the green light (which now looks unlikely) then the Belgian marksman gets the nod for me, given that he has scored four times from eight big chances over his last quartet of matches.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace
Luka Milivojevic’s set-piece duties make him a great value pick at £6.3m and Jeffrey Schlupp‘s goal and three assists in his last six matches
I’ve included three Spurs choices too, even though they travel to Liverpool and have struggled against Palace in recent years. They lost 2-0 to the Eagles in the FA Cup in January and last scored more than one goal against the s
The new stadium hype may drive up their performance, with Harry Kane the best option if the budget allows. His three goals in his last four league appearances and two for England over the international break should give his backers hope.
In defence, the security of starts for Cesar Azpilicueta puts him above any other defender for me – and you’ve got to think clean sheets are likely given that Chelsea
Other than Jeffrey Schlupp, who seems to be in every Free Hit team I’ve seen, my other picks are a bit more left-field with set-piece specialist Kieran Trippier, marauding rotation risk Diogo Dalot and shots-in-the-box merchant Shane Duffy all posing intriguing differentials for people looking for something a bit different in their backline.
In midfield, things are a bit easier to explain. Raheem Sterling comes off the back of seven goals in three games. His captaincy appeal is dented by his international minutes but he surely is the first name on the teamsheet for anyone free hitting, given his form.
Eden Hazard is a close second. His stats are truly woeful and his head may be turned by Madrid, but these games are too good to pass on.
I’ve decided to ignore a City defender so I can triple up on their attack, and David Silva, given that he was well rested over the international break, could be a great shout.
Out of the Spurs midfield, I’m torn between Son Heung-min and Dele Alli, but feel that if Son can remain “out of position” then he should deliver the goods. Same logic for Diogo Jota, who is a bit of a risk with the semi-final looming but who is in great form for Wolves.
Up front, Sergio Aguero is an absolute no-brainer and will carry the hopes of many free hitters and triple
Marcus Rashford remains an injury doubt at the time of writing but Lukaku looks in even worse shape, so out of the two I think the Englishman is the most likely to play.
Harry Kane is pushed down to
Raul Jimenez and Michy Bathsuayi is my big 50/50 call in my own team. Obviously, Jiminez has the form, but will he miss one of the next two and be wrapped up for the semi-final? Batshuayi has Huddersfield, but then a tricky game at Spurs’ new stadium. I’m leaning towards Jimenez for now, but can see myself making the shift if I fancy going for someone a bit less ‘template’.
Ah, the inescapable lure of a double Gameweek. The pinchbeck perfection which causes many of us (particularly Free Hitters) to jettison great single week options from sides such as Liverpool and Arsenal to bloat our squads with that dream (or hallucination) of 22 (or more) potential matches.
In that cavalier spirit, all but one (Sead Kolasinac) of this week’s 18 selections have – in theory at least – two bites of the Gameweek 32 cherry. There is, however, no guarantee that any player will get 180 minutes under his belt, particularly with players returning after the international break and with four sides shortly competing in the FA Cup semi-finals. We will all be hoping for some nice transparent press conferences this week involving decisive comments like “Lukaku is fully fit and will definitely play both” or “we’ll keep our main players wrapped in cotton wool for the cup”. Maybe not.
Many of our squads will feature a trio of players from the two Manchester clubs and from Chelsea, with the Citizens and the Blues enjoying the best fixtures and United able to focus firmly on their battle for a top-four place, unlike both of their opponents – Wolves and Watford – who may have one eye on their FA
Two City spaces are reserved for Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling and I’ve opted for the defensive pick (in both senses) of Ederson, although I do understand how some managers may prefer a Silva lining.
To the west side of the City, I’m hoping Romelu Lukaku can recover from injury to continue his recent good form (update: this is looking doubtful as of Wednesday) and I’m overlooking Paul Pogba’s recent dip in form. The speculation and excitement over Victor Lindelof’s fatherhood was “entertaining” and, although the Swede carries relatively little attacking threat, I favour his chances of starting both games against the cup semi-finalists.
My own Free Hit squad may well feature a Chelsea defensive double-up, but I’ve chosen Gonzalo Higuain in the Scout Squad (alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and Eden Hazard) because I can’t shake the fear that both Troy Deeney and Raul Jimenez – fine options in every other sense – may face reduced minutes. Chelsea’s inviting opposition – Cardiff and Brighton – also serve to mitigate the Blue’s own poor attacking form.
Watford and Wolves, with games against Fulham and Burnley respectively, represent a high risk and reward strategy which I personally have eschewed. Only Ben Foster and Diogo Jota make the cut.
Which brings us to Crystal Palace and Spurs. Serge Aurier’s injury on international duty gives me confidence that Kieran Trippier will line up against Palace, in addition to that daunting trip to Anfield, whilst Jeffrey Schlupp has a decent chance of continuing his excellent ‘out of position’ work in midfield.
Harry Kane and Wilfried Zaha are in decent form, which just leaves one midfield slot to fill. None of the Spurs’ options inspires me at present, despite impressing historically, so Luka Milivojevic takes the final spot with almost guaranteed minutes and the benefit of set-piece duties against Championship-bound Huddersfield.
The Community Champion
Before most Gameweeks, we nominate a Fantasy manager to challenge our Scout Picks with a starting XI of their own.
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).
In Gameweek 31, Trigg lost 20-30 to our Scout Picks with a 4-3-3 line-up of Boruc (2); Luiz (1), Robertson (2), Alexander-Arnold (2), Rice (1); Fraser (2), Hazard (2), Salah (2); Higuain (2), Vardy (2), Wilson (2).
fclackless’s Gameweek 10 victory over the Scout Squad crew by a score of 77-44 remains the deficit to beat.
The Community Champion for Gameweek 32 will be announced in our Scout Picks on Friday.