We’ve witnessed a blue landslide ahead of Gameweek 17 as Jamie Vardy dominates the captain poll leaving his red rivals – Mané and Salah – trailing in his wake. Yellows and greens are expected to suffer the heaviest defeats as Norwich City travel to the King Power and Watford – under new leadership – visit Anfield.
The armband contest may well be a fait accompli but there remains a plethora of attacking talent vying for your attention. Which players tick all the right boxes? And who can you ill afford to leave on the sidelines?
With all the latest soundbites, conjecture, opinion and statistics Fantasy Football Scout is, as ever, your one-stop-shop for all things FPL.
David’s meticulous Captain Sensible article highlights the strong form of Jamie Vardy. However, our editor-in-chief reveals that Watford’s poor defence may present an attractive opportunity for Liverpool and those fancying a change to the status-quo:
The captaincy may well come down to whether Fantasy managers want to select a form or fixture option … The Hornets have allowed 11 big chances since Gameweek 13, only three teams shipping fewer.– David Munday
And site members will be intrigued by the Rate My Team prediction that tips Mohamed Salah to be the highest-scoring player in Gameweek 17.
One manager not afraid to go against the grain is Pro Pundit Lateriser, who shared the enticing statistic that Liverpool have scored 16 goals in their last three home matches against Watford.
Nonetheless betting against Vardy is a risky business:
At the moment, moving the captaincy away from Vardy means you are banking on two things – one, your player actually delivering points (which is proving a lottery), and two, Vardy blanking so you actually get some benefit from it.– Pro Pundit Az
A tactical tweak in Gameweek 16 by Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was not only good news for Vardy – who scored twice in a match for the first time since Gameweek 10 – it also improved the prospects for James Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho.
The Nigerian registered his second double-figure haul in three Gameweeks and, reporting on the game, Neale also noted the benefit for Maddison:
Roaming across the pitch rather than restricted to the left, Maddison posed more of a sustained goal threat than he had done in recent weeks.– Neale Rigg
And it’s a tactical tweak that may persist. Rodgers explained the change to a 4-4-2 diamond:
I just felt having four in there gives us the extra man. And if you’re playing a team at home and they want to commit the full-backs forward, gives us two v two versus the centre-halves.– Brendan Rodgers
Neale notes that “Norwich also tend to push their full-backs high up the field” and has included Iheanacho in his predicted line-up.
While a place for Iheanacho in our forward lines may be a step too far for most, given the rotation risk, there are a number of strikers presenting a strong case for inclusion.
In her video report on Gameweek 16, Pro Pundit Sam Bonfield made a point of highlighting Danny Ings, who she feels is potentially being overlooked because he’s playing for Southampton. Sam quoted from David’s Scout Notes:
The former Burnley and Liverpool man has arguably been the second-most reliable Fantasy forward for some time, with only Jamie Vardy (£10.1m) scoring more times (13) than Ings (eight) since Gameweek 7.– David Munday
The Saints forward is included in our Scout Picks for Gameweek 17.
Meanwhile fellow Pro Pundit Andy talked up Diogo Jota in his Community Q&A video. Not only did the Portugal international score twice against Brighton last weekend but his Gameweek 18 fixture against Norwich City caught Andy’s attention.
Az thinks backing the right forwards is the way to go during the hectic festive period:
It seems to me that juggling in-form strikers will be key to making progress over Christmas, and not being afraid to weave in and out of the aforementioned options may prove fruitful as we look to take advantage of congested fixtures and swings during a busy period.– Pro Pundit Az
Gameweek 18 is of particular interest because Liverpool blank. Their fixture against West Ham has been postponed to allow them to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup.
A talking point on the Scoutcast – is it time to rethink our Liverpool assets?
The question sparked a debate on Twitter with two of Joe’s Meet the Manager guests reconsidering their plans. Adam Hopcroft is now pondering selling Mané after Watford and Phil Ampleford, currently on a Wildcard, is thinking of punting on Salah before selling in Gameweek 18.
Former FPL winner and Pro Pundit Simon March mulled over the pros and cons of a late Wildcard noting that it allows managers to be more maverick in their selections:
It also means you can be a lot more aggressive with who you transfer in and play to shorter Gameweek horizons. I generally tend to look about four-to-six Gameweeks ahead when assessing a player but, when I’m getting closer to when I Wildcard, I allow myself to be much more short term and much riskier in my thinking.– FPL Winner Simon March
Thinking short term, in his Spot the Differential piece, Pro Pundit Ash picked a certain Sheffield United defender to flourish this Gameweek. No, not him.
Baldock’s offensive potential combined with Aston Villa’s defensive problems could see him register more attacking returns.– Pro Pundit Ash
Neale backed up Ash’s selection in his analysis of the underlying stats:
42 chances conceded by Aston Villa from their left flank over the last six Gameweeks, almost twice as many as any other club from that zone of the pitch. Lundstram and Baldock could potentially exploit that weakness when Sheffield United host Dean Smith’s side in Gameweek 17.– Neale Rigg
John Lundstram owners can consider themselves unfortunate that he blanked against Norwich last weekend. David recounted Lundstram’s near misses in his Scout Notes: Lundstram assisted the assister for Steven’s goal; was unlucky not to get an assist for Baldock’s goal – it was his cross that created the chance; had a goal ruled out by VAR for offside; and, close to the final whistle, he played in McGoldrick who could only blast his effort over the bar.
On another day we would all have been celebrating.
One player we haven’t been celebrating much this season is Raheem Sterling. The Manchester City forward has one goal and no assists in the last six Gameweeks. And as Karam pointed out on the Scoutcast, one assist this season is way down on his totals of 15, 17, and 14 assists from the three previous campaigns.
A question for this week’s FPL Panel asked if we should be dropping Sterling, De Bruyne, or both. G-Whizz, for one, hasn’t looked back since Sterling left his side. While Greyhead spotted a template change in The Great and The Good:
The Great and The Good ownership of City players has decreased dramatically.– Greyhead
A hot topic on the subject followed.
Chelsea and Liverpool top the latest DS stats, fixtures and clean sheet odds brought to us by G-Whizz. Despite injuries to Lovren and Matip, as Rotation’s Alter Ego revealed in his team news summary, Liverpool have a 50% chance of a shut-out. While the Blues are expected to profit from the injury crisis currently engulfing Bournemouth. Yesterday’s team news article reported that:
Chelsea’s opponents Bournemouth have real problems, with Nathan Ake (hamstring), Steve Cook (wrist), Adam Smith (ankle), Charlie Daniels (knee), David Brooks (ankle) and Lloyd Kelly (thigh) all confirmed as out.– Scout Team News
Elsewhere, Martin Kelly is back on our radars after three successive clean sheets. Defensive injuries haven’t hampered Crystal Palace:
Patrick van Aanholt and Jeff Schlupp will definitely be ruled out through injury, alongside Joel Ward. There might be more names added to that list unfortunately but I’m not willing to divulge that currently.– Roy Hodgson
The Eagles are currently the best rated defence in our season ticker.
However Pep Pig doesn’t fancy them for a clean sheet. He’s predicting a 2-0 win for Brighton in Monday night’s M23 derby and picks out Neal Maupay as the one to watch.
Last week Pep Pig correctly predicted a 2-1 win for Manchester United and highlighted Marcus Rashford’s potential. He also fancied Salah to shine in a Liverpool win over Bournemouth, which he duly did.
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For an update on all FFS Mini-Leagues and Community Competitions, please click here to read the latest round-up.
The draws for the next rounds in the FFS Cups have been made and can be read about here.
And Boris Bodega: Holly’s Hamster has brought us up-to-date with the goings-on in the Pundits Playoff Tournament.
For those interested in the Head-to-Head Leagues, the main page can be linked to here. The fixtures for Gameweek 17 can be found below:
Use the drop-down menus to show your league and division. To find out which league and division you are in, follow the instructions on the main Head-to-Head page.
Once the Gameweek starts, if you click on your opponent’s name you will be linked to their team on the FPL website.
Best of luck for Gameweek 17!