The regular prelude to the Scout Picks article returns for one final time this season.
In this piece, our four panellists each submit an 18-man squad of Fantasy assets with the focus on the coming Gameweek.
The 72 nominations listed below will then be narrowed down to a squad of 14 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83.5m) ahead of the Gameweek 38 deadline at 14:00 BST on Sunday afternoon.
Peter, Paul, Az and Neale (deputising for the recovering Joe) expand on their notable inclusions and omissions in the article below.
Az accidentally included four representatives of both Manchester clubs – the limit is three per team but we’ve let him off as it’s the final Gameweek of the season…
|GK||Sergio Rico||Kasper Schmeichel||Ederson||Hugo Lloris|
|David de Gea|
|David de Gea||Angus Gunn|
|Tom Heaton||Jordan Pickford||Angus Gunn||Sergio Rico|
|DF||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Aymeric Laporte||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Andrew Robertson||Aymeric Laporte||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Aymeric Laporte||Maya Yoshida||Lucas Digne||Lucas Digne|
|Ryan Bertrand||Luke Shaw||Scott Dann||Luke Shaw|
|Joe Bryan||Ben Mee||Luke Shaw||Fabian Schar|
|MF||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Raheem Sterling||Nathan Redmond||Sadio Mane||Sadio Mane|
|Paul Pogba||Sadio Mane||Paul Pogba||Raheem Sterling|
|James Ward-Prowse||Raheem Sterling||Nathan Redmond||Ryan Fraser|
|Ryan Fraser||Ryan Babel||Bernardo Silva||Ryan Babel|
|FW||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero|
|Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy|
|Marcus Rashford||Marcus Rashford|
|Marcus Rashford||Marko Arnautovic||Marko Arnautovic||Shane Long|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic||Callum Wilson||Wilfried Zaha||Chris Wood|
Most popular picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aymeric Laporte, Mohamed Salah, Sergio Aguero, Jamie Vardy (four), Sergio Rico, Luke Shaw, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Chris Wood (three)
The race for the title will play a significant part in our final Scout Picks of the season.
Both Liverpool and Man City have the form that justifies investment at both ends of the pitch.
If Andrew Robertson is passed fit, I’d look to include him as part of a double-up on Liverpool’s full-backs against Wolves.
I’m also tipping the Fulham defence at home to Newcastle.
The Cottagers are no pushovers under Scott Parker and have three clean sheets in four, conceding a single goal.
Joe Bryan looks a decent prospect against the Magpies.
The left-back sits second for key passes (four) under Parker, while no team-mate has bettered his 12 successful tackles.
That all-round contribution helped him earn maximum FPL bonus in the goalless draw with Bournemouth in Gameweek 35.
Bryan has produced 23 of his 53 points this season in four appearances with Parker in charge.
A home encounter with relegated Huddersfield looks encouraging for Southampton.
James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond were benched last weekend and I expect both to return to the teamsheet.
Of the two, I prefer Ward-Prowse. Granted, Redmond has the stronger underlying statistics in terms of goal threat but his team-mate has the output to back up his cut-price potential.
Costing just £5.0m, Ward-Prowse has produced at least nine FPL points in five of his nine home appearances under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Up front, Chris Wood could bully the Arsenal backline at Turf Moor on Sunday.
The Burnley forward has three goals and three assists in six and his aerial threat will trouble Unai Emery’s men.
The Gunners have the league’s worst away record in terms of shut-outs, with a single clean sheet on their travels.
Wood, meanwhile, has the statistics to back up his recent run of points.
Over his last six matches, the Kiwi’s totals of seven big chances and four big chances created both rank among the top four players overall.
With Manchester City and Liverpool being the only two teams left with anything meaningful to play for in Gameweek 38, it theoretically makes sense to triple up on the title-chasing pair this Sunday.
As City have shown in recent weeks, however, the high-stakes nature of these games can sometimes lead to tighter affairs.
At least we can be fairly confident of starts for the likes of Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero et al – which is half the battle in May.
Nailing down where the goals will be scored in the end-of-season dead rubbers is tricky, not least because of the uncertainty over rotation.
That unpredictably causes me to overlook the likes of Angus Gunn, for example, following Fraser Forster’s start at West Ham.
Southampton representation is a must, though, and Nathan Redmond‘s impressive xGI (joint-eighth-best in the last six matches) gets him the nod over his attack-minded team-mates.
I realise that Maya Yoshida is currently red-flagged but, should he recover from illness, I’d like the Japanese centre-half to be our route into the Saints defence: Yoshida has recorded ten penalty box touches and six attempts on goal in his last four matches.
Should the budget Southampton stopper fail to recover, there are others in the same price bracket – Yan Valery/Jan Bednarek – who can deputise in our Scout Picks.
England’s two Europa League representatives are back in domestic action less than 72 hours after their respective semi-finals and there could be joy to be had by backing Burnley and Leicester assets this weekend, with Arsenal and Chelsea fairly dismal on their travels this calendar year.
No Premier League side has allowed more headed chances than Unai Emery’s troops over their last six matches, so the likes of Chris Wood and Ben Mee could have a field day against a suspect-looking Arsenal defence that has one away clean sheet all season and that is shipping headed goals for fun of late.
No defender has had more headed chances without scoring than Mee in 2018/19 but to my eyes, he has looked more of a threat than James Tarkowski of late and Sean Dyche seemed to hint that Mee would at least start on Sunday to keep up his ever-present record.
At the other end, the Clarets have allowed fewer big chances than any other club when Premier League sides are filtered by last six home matches.
My Digest article outlined Ryan Fraser’s credentials for this week but I’ve gone with half-namesake Ryan Babel as my fifth midfielder, given that I have already plumped for Callum Wilson (43 FPL points in his last four away starts) up front.
Babel has three goals and four assists in his last seven home appearances and has been presented with 11 big chances in his short time at Fulham – Mane is the only midfielder with more in the last 15 Gameweeks.
The Marko Arnautovic selection looks like knee-jerkery of the highest order given that his brace last weekend broke a four-month dry spell in front of goal but Watford have gone 11 matches without a clean sheet (no side is on a worse run) and may have one eye on their forthcoming FA Cup final.
I’d previously mentioned that I considered West Ham’s Gameweek 37 and 38 fixtures to be among the most attractive in the top flight and the Hammers have produced some excellent displays in recent weeks, even in their defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
So, the final week is upon us. Thirty-seven weeks have led to this moment and I for one have found this season the hardest of all. I’ve clawed my way back inside the top 100k; the hard part is going to be making sure I stay there.
Gameweek 38 looks pretty tough, with the entire league pretty much decided and all but Liverpool and City playing for pride or a slight increase in the league positions.
From those two teams, I reckon a City clean sheet and win is inevitable (sorry Liverpool fans) but can’t see a complete demolition job of Brighton. I actually think Liverpool are far more likely to rack up the goals at home to Wolves, who have now cemented seventh place in their outstanding season. Mohamed Salah looks the ideal captain this week – shame I don’t own him!
I normally favour teams at home on the last day of the season, as you would expect them to want to give the fans something to cheer for on the final day. That means backing for Southampton, Man United and Crystal Palace, with only the Eagles showing any real form lately.
Still, for some differentials, these would be the teams I’d be targeting. Nathan Redmond and Wilfried Zaha, in particular, look like they have potential to do well. I also like the look of Marko Arnautovic away at Watford, who will surely have one eye on their FA Cup final in a few weeks.
So that’s me for the season, I hope my ramblings on this each week have been useful. All the best for the final Gameweek!
2008: Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City
2013: WBA 5-5 Manchester United
2018: Spurs 5-4 Leicester City
Will 2019 also produce end-of-season fireworks to sweep rank outsiders to FPL mini-league glory and, if so, at which venue? And will a tight Golden Boot battle (with four or five players still in the race) play its part in the season finale?
Inevitably, the two title contenders lend three players each to my selections this week and I anticipate that I won’t be alone in choosing as my top choices in each position Aymeric Laporte, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero for the Sky Blues and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah for the Reds. That’s not to say I’m expecting the title deciders to be a walk in the park for either side – City, in particular, having ground out three one-goal victories from their last four matches – but you’d be brave to bet on Brighton or Wolves this week.
Thereafter, there’s plenty of room for some cheaper punts.
It’s the last chance to back against Huddersfield and Cardiff for at least a season as they visit St Mary’s and Old Trafford respectively.
Southampton have nine goals in their last four home matches (including games against Liverpool, Spurs and Wolves) compared to three from their last four road trips and Shane Long has found the net four times from just 385 minutes during that time.
I escaped without any cover from the Red Devils last week and it’s only my irrational fear that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will surely have them in better shape to see off the league’s third-worst team at home that justifies my selection of Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw.
After Manchester City (one goal conceded), Everton (two goals) and Spurs (three goals) have the meanest defences over the last six matches. Everton have failed to score in their last two away games, whilst a tired-looking Spurs have just one goal from their last two home fixtures. My expectation of a low scoring affair is reflected in the selections of Hugo Lloris and Lucas Digne, so cue that 5-5 thriller…
I’d love to give Ashley Barnes one final hurrah as he has served me well when needed this season, but his strike partner, Chris Wood, has far better form and stats with seven big chances to three from the last six matches and six attacking returns to two. Burnley’s visitors, Arsenal, have recorded only one away shut-out in the league this season and I don’t think they’ll make it two on Sunday.
In closing, good luck to everyone looking to secure their mini-leagues and more importantly my best wishes to Joe.
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 biggest 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 37, Greyhead narrowly lost out to our Scout Picks 46-45.
fclackless’s Gameweek 10 victory over the Scouts by a score of 77-44 remains the deficit to beat.
The Community Champion for Gameweek 38 will be announced in our Scout Picks article on Saturday.