The regular prelude to the Scout Picks is back ahead of the mini-Double Gameweek.
Brighton and Hove Albion and Cardiff City are the two teams that play twice in Gameweek 34 and assets from the Seagulls, in particular, are fairly well-represented in the selections below.
In this article, our four panelists each submit an 18-man squad of Fantasy assets, with the focus chiefly on the coming Gameweek.
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 earlier-than-usual deadline at 19:00 BST on Friday.
Peter, Joe, Paul and Neale – in for the unavailable Az – expand on their notable inclusions and omissions in the article below.
|GK||Mathew Ryan||Mathew Ryan||Mathew Ryan||Hugo Lloris|
|Hugo Lloris||David de Gea|
|Jordan Pickford||David de Gea||Tom Heaton||Mathew Ryan|
|DF||Shane Duffy||Shane Duffy||Shane Duffy||Shane Duffy|
|Kieran Trippier||Kieran Trippier||Ben Davies|
|Harry Maguire||Andrew Robertson||Diogo Dalot||Lucas Digne|
|Aymeric Laporte||Aymeric Laporte||Lucas Digne||Ben Chilwell|
|Sean Morrison||Ricardo Pereira||Ben Chilwell||Lewis Dunk|
|MF||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Christian Eriksen||Son Heung-min|
|Christian Eriksen||Christian Eriksen||Gylfi Sigurdsson||Christian Eriksen|
|Mohamed Salah||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Gylfi Sigurdsson|
|Paul Pogba||Sadio Mane||Anthony Knockaert||Leroy Sane|
|Victor Camarasa||Dwight McNeil||Victor Camarasa||James Maddison|
|FW||Glenn Murray||Romelu Lukaku||Sergio Aguero||Jamie Vardy|
|Marcus Rashford||Sergio Aguero||Romelu Lukaku||Romelu Lukaku|
|Jamie Vardy||Chris Wood|
|Sergio Aguero||Troy Deeney||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Troy Deeney|
|Chris Wood||Raul Jimenez||Troy Deeney||Dominic Calvert-Lewin|
Most popular picks: Mathew Ryan, Shane Duffy, Christian Eriksen, Jamie Vardy (four), Son Heung-min, Romelu Lukaku, Troy Deeney, Sergio Aguero (three)
Brighton and Cardiff, the only two sides with a pair of fixtures, supply five of my Gameweek 34 squad.
Along with a host of the usual big-hitters, I’m advocating a double-up in the Spurs midfield in light of Harry Kane’s ankle injury.
Looking at differentials, Victor Camarasa, at just £4.5m, seems an ideal punt against Burnley and the Seagulls.
The Spaniard has scored in two of Cardiff’s last three league fixtures and has the underlying numbers to back that up.
Over their respective last four matches, Camarasa ranks top for expected goal involvement among the two Double Gameweek sides. Indeed, his score of 3.06 places fifth overall.
Chris Wood is also in form ahead of that Turf Moor encounter.
The Burnley frontman bagged a goal and assist to claim 11 points at Bournemouth last weekend.
Having scored just once in the first 19 Gameweeks, Wood has turned his season around.
From Gameweek 20 onwards, his total of seven goals sits fifth overall. That’s more than Mohamed Salah, Eden Hazard and Raheem Sterling, who have scored six apiece.
In defence, Harry Maguire was a big success against his visitors, Newcastle, earlier in the season.
The Leicester centre-half supplied a goal and assist to record his season-high haul of 18 points back in Gameweek 7.
Maguire’s aerial threat from set-pieces was key against the Magpies, and the numbers point to more joy.
Newcastle arrive at the King Power having conceded 147 attempts from set-pieces, more than any other side.
We very well may be approaching one of the all-time worst Double Gameweeks.
Brighton and Cardiff may have two fixtures but both these relegation scrappers have barely any assets worth considering.
However, the Seagulls do at least have kind fixtures in their favour with two home games against Bournemouth and Neil Warnock’s troops.
The Welsh side have the joint-lowest amount of big chances over their last four road trips, while Bournemouth are edging closer to their summer holidays, with a mere four shots on target in their last two matches – the joint fifth worst over that timeframe.
This makes Shane Duffy a shoo-in, especially as he’s had ten shots over his last six home run-outs – only Jurgen Locadia has more among Brighton players. Mathew Ryan should also earn at least one shut-out given the opposition.
Cardiff’s away defence is as poor as their attack, conceding the second-highest amount of big chances over their last four road trips, with only West Ham shipping more. But with rotation rife across the Seagulls midfield and forward spots, I can’t recommend any of their attacking assets. As a Brighton fan, that is particularly damning.
Meanwhile, I’m not willing to back any Cardiff players, with Victor Camarasa perhaps the only option worth considering with eight chances over his last six.
In fact, I’m so unimpressed with the Bluebirds that I’ve even handed a budget midfield spot to Dwight McNeil, a player from one of their opponents, Burnley. The teenager has two goals in his last three matches and looks set to prosper again on Saturday.
Elsewhere, I’ve selected mainly reliable players from top six sides or in-form mid-table sides, such as Troy Deeney of Watford and Wolves talisman Raul Jimenez.
A visit from down-and-out Huddersfield looks enticing for Spurs midfield duo Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen, who will be needed after Harry Kane hobbled off against Manchester City midweek.
Romelu Lukaku takes top spot among my forward selection. Only Kane himself has had more shots over the last four matches than the Manchester United striker. His four-goal tally over that period is only beaten by one other player who happens to be another of my picks, Leicester’s Jamie Vardy.
The Foxes host a Newcastle side that last kept a clean sheet on the road in Gameweek 17.
The arguments for a Brighton defensive double-up in Gameweek 34 have reached saturation point by now so I will waste little time in justifying the inclusions of Mathew Ryan and Shane Duffy.
If the Scout Picks is to include representation from a very limited Albion attack then I’d argue Anthony Knockaert‘s case over that of Glenn Murray. The French winger is selected on the proviso that Pascal Gross is still sidelined, allowing Knockaert to retain dead-ball duties: no FPL midfielder has delivered more accurate corners in their last four matches.
Rotation is a risk but Chris Hughton has generally favoured stability in the wide areas for extended periods of the season so I’m taking a leap of faith with Knockaert’s inclusion.
Victor Camarasa is my only nomination for Cardiff, given that the team with the third-worst away record in 2018/19 are on their travels twice in Gameweek 34.
A corner-taker who, a bit like Knockaert with Duffy, has a ball-magnet in the form of Sean Morrison to aim at, the Spanish playmaker is also on spot-kicks for the Bluebirds and is a particular threat from open play when deployed as the “number ten” in Neil Warnock’s 4-4-1-1.
Camarasa’s expected goal involvement (xGI) of late is eye-catchingly high, too.
A rested and reinvigorated Kevin De Bruyne is my choice of City midfielder this week, with he and Sergio Aguero – if selected – likely to face a second-string centre-half pairing of Scott Dann and Martin Kelly on Sunday thanks to injuries to James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho.
I will be closely monitoring the Spurs press conference on Friday as, along with a definitive prognosis on Harry Kane, there is also a wrist injury to Dele Alli to clear up – and maybe even an update on Son Heung-min, who looked to be in slight discomfort with his calf before scoring the winner against City in midweek.
Christian Eriksen is included, then, while Ben Davies – who played understudy to Danny Rose on Tuesday – could be back in the starting XI if Mauricio Pochettino’s regular rotation continues at left-back.
Huddersfield, Spurs’ opponents this weekend, have conceded more chances from their right flank than any other club when filtered by their last six matches.
With Ashley Young and Luke Shaw sidelined through suspension, I’ve taken a punt on attack-minded right-back Diogo Dalot (who is often found on the wing, these days) to exploit West Ham’s weaknesses at both ends of the pitch.
The Hammers haven’t scored a single goal from open play away from home in 2019, while Manuel Pellegrini’s troops have conceded the most “big chances” this season and the third-highest number of opportunities from their left flank.
Harry Kane’s anguished cry was no doubt echoed by thousands of FPL managers as Wildcard drawing boards were pulled out all over the world. Indeed, it is difficult to predict what form rotation will take amongst clubs in European action, with Gameweek 34 the meat in the Champions League/Europa League sandwich but plenty still to play for in the Premier League.
Coverage from Spurs seems “essential” this weekend as they host relegated Huddersfield but which trio, of course, is the question.
I’m backing Son Heung-min to hit another purple patch in the absence of the England captain, alongside Christian Eriksen and penalty hero Hugo Lloris. Eliminating Manchester City from Europe would be an amazing scalp but it’s two from four in the race to qualify for next year’s campaign (unless an English team is triumphant in Madrid on 1 June) so Spurs can’t afford to prioritise the cup.
I don’t trust Arsenal’s away form, but do turn to a United trio of Romelu Lukaku, Chris Smalling and David de Gea (subject to any Kane-esque news from their match against Barcelona). Their visitors, West Ham, are on a wretched run of form, particularly on the road where they have just one attacking return in their last six trips. Although the Red Devils will be missing their first choice full-backs through suspension, I am still hopeful of a rare United clean sheet.
Avoiding the big Sunday afternoon showdown between Liverpool and Chelsea, I also find it hard to choose representation from Manchester City. My sole selection of Leroy Sane reflects nothing more than a gut instinct regarding rest (Raheem Sterling), form (Riyad Mahrez) and possible injury concerns (Bernardo Silva) surrounding the other Citizen wingers.
The Foxes have left a few of us scratching our heads and were attracting interest from some Wildcarders even before Kane’s injury potentially limited the strikers pool yet further. Leicester (14) trail only Liverpool (16) and Manchester City (15) for goals in their last six and man of the moment Jamie Vardy was involved in nine of them, with James Maddison ticking over nicely with a brace and a pair of assists during that time.
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 Blank Gameweek 33, circusmonkey lost 46-65 to our Scout Picks with a line-up of Schmeichel (3); Robertson (1), van Dijk (2), Azpilicueta (5), Maguire (0), Pereira (6); Hazard (16), Sigurdsson (3); King (2), Giroud (1), Firmino (7).
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 34 will be announced in our Scout Picks on Friday.