The Scout Squad panelists present their Fantasy Premier League squads for Gameweek 23.
In this recurring article, our four regulars – editorial staff Paul, David and Neale plus community manager Geoff – each proposes an 18-man squad of Fantasy assets for the coming weekend and explain their notable inclusions/omissions below.
The 72 nominations listed will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £85m) for the weekly Scout Picks selection ahead of the deadline at 11:30 GMT on Saturday.
There are requirements for at least one sub-£5.0m goalkeeper, at least one defender under £5.0m, at least one midfielder priced £6.5m or below and at least one forward priced at £7.5m or lower.
Each panelist is restricted to no more than three players from the same team, as is the case in FPL.
We will again be adding a captaincy to the Scout Picks, with details of that revealed on Friday.
|GK||Bernd Leno||Kasper Schmeichel||Mathew Ryan||Mathew Ryan|
|Alex McCarthy||Tim Krul||Bernd Leno||Kasper Schmeichel|
|Kepa Arrizabalaga||Ben Foster||Kasper Schmeichel||Kepa Arrizabalaga|
|DF||Reece James||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||Benjamin Mendy||Benjamin Mendy||Matt Doherty|
|David Luiz||Lewis Dunk||Lewis Dunk||Ricardo Pereira|
|Mason Holgate||David Luiz||Reece James||Serge Aurier|
|Jack Stephens||Cesar Azpilicueta||Sead Kolasinac||Reece James|
|MF||Richarlison||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Sadio Mane||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Son Heung-min|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Ismaila Sarr||Riyad Mahrez||Todd Cantwell|
|Leandro Trossard||Emiliano Buendia||Richarlison||Richarlison|
|Todd Cantwell||Callum Hudson-Odoi||Alireza Jahanbakhsh||Jack Grealish|
|FW||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Sergio Aguero||Danny Ings||Sergio Aguero|
|Jamie Vardy||Danny Ings||Jamie Vardy||Tammy Abraham|
|Tammy Abraham||Jamie Vardy||Teemu Pukki||Jamie Vardy|
|Danny Ings||Tammy Abraham||Troy Deeney||Teemu Pukki|
|Troy Deeney||Neal Maupay||Sebastien Haller||Callum Wilson|
Most popular picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin De Bruyne, Jamie Vardy (four), Kasper Schmeichel, Reece James, Richarlison, Tammy Abraham, Danny Ings (three).
Recent improvements at the back for Arsenal and Southampton has led me to believe both clubs have decent clean sheet potential in Gameweek 23.
Bernd Leno and David Luiz face a Sheffield United attack inside the Premier League’s bottom three for shots on target over the last four, while the Saints back-line has been bettered only by Liverpool during that time.
That’s why budget options Alex McCarthy and Jack Stephens make it into my Scout Squad selection, each one capable of saving Fantasy managers money either in goal or defence ahead of an anticipated Double Gameweek 24 splash-out.
Chelsea travel to a Newcastle side that continually struggles in front of goal, only Norwich and Bournemouth registering fewer big chances than the Magpies since Gameweek 19.
With Steve Bruce’s men also in the Premier League’s bottom two for big chances conceded during that period, I think the attacking potential of Reece James and Tammy Abraham is very attractive indeed.
I can’t see too many goals at Anfield on Sunday afternoon considering Liverpool and Manchester United’s recent defensive showings.
For that reason, I’ve included Trent Alexander-Arnold in my selection although Sadio Mané is the man I believe to be the most likely to puncture Manchester United’s defence.
Considering West Ham’s ongoing defensive problems, and an injury to Lukasz Fabianski, I’m backing an Everton triple-up for Gameweek 23, centred around Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The two players are forming a very productive strike partnership under Carlo Ancelotti, each registering three attacking returns in the four matches since the Italian took over at Everton.
I think this could be the week that Jamie Vardy returns to the form we were enjoying several weeks ago.
He might have gone shotless against Southampton, but he will be facing a much more obliging defence in Gameweek 23 at Burnley.
Over the last four Gameweeks, the Clarets have conceded ten big chances, the fifth-worst in the Premier League.
Pep Guardiola is one of the few head coaches who would have the temerity to bench a player who scored a hat-trick in his previous match but that is a possibility at the Etihad this weekend, such is the Manchester City manager’s unpredictable nature.
That caveat notwithstanding, Sergio Aguero (along with Kevin De Bruyne) gets the nod again in my Scout Squad picks after last week’s nomination – although I’m not expecting him to come close to matching Gameweek 22’s haul, with Crystal Palace an altogether tougher nut to crack.
Rotation is also a possibility with Benjamin Mendy, too, but should he start at left-back – as he has done in five of City’s last six league matches – then there is the potential for returns at both ends of the pitch.
Mendy is top among defenders for chances created over the last six Gameweeks, while the Eagles have scored the joint-fewest number of goals in the Premier League this season.
Bournemouth are one of the teams level with Palace for that statistic and have found the back of the net on just seven occasions in the last 15 Gameweeks, so there is a rare place for Tim Krul as one of my three goalkeepers.
Teammate Emiliano Buendia is also selected for Norwich City’s plum home fixture against the out-of-sorts Cherries, having created a remarkable 33 chances over the last seven Gameweeks: that’s a dozen more than Kevin De Bruyne has managed in that time.
Aston Villa and Newcastle United’s continuing vulnerability to crosses and dead-ball deliveries plays into my thinking regarding Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea assets.
Lewis Dunk is a constant threat in the air for the Seagulls and has had more headed attempts from set plays than any of his teammates in 2019/20.
Tammy Abraham is joint-top among forwards for headed chances over the last six Gameweeks, meanwhile, and I noticed Callum Hudson-Odoi was on corner-taking duty in Gameweek 22 – the young winger could also find joy down Newcastle’s right from open play, with the Magpies having conceded the highest number of crosses from that wing in 2019/20.
A word on Leicester City, too, whose players are being sold in their droves ahead of Gameweek 23.
Burnley, the Foxes’ opponents this weekend, have shipped eight goals and scored just one in a point-less run over the last four Gameweeks.
Looking at 2019/20 overall, the Clarets have conceded at least two goals in all seven of their meetings with the current top six – so Jamie Vardy remains entrenched in my Scout Squad picks and indeed my own FPL team.
I’m advocating a triple-up on Man City at home to Palace in Gameweek 23, with Pep Guardiola’s men offering strong options in defence and attack.
Benjamin Mendy is one of my differentials this week.
Owned by a mere 1% of squads, the Frenchman has supplied 11 key passes in the last six Gameweeks – more than any defender and second only to Kevin De Bruyne’s 16 for City.
A trip to Newcastle hands Reece James the chance to build on last weekend’s 11-point haul against Burnley.
The Chelsea right-back has started each of the last two league matches and his numbers underline his all-round attacking potential.
James’ five shots on goal in that period were more than any other defender, while his total of four chances created sits just one off the summit at the back.
Yet he can be found in just 0.4% of squads ahead of his clash with the Magpies.
Backing the Brighton attack at home to Aston Villa seems a sensible move and Alireza Jahanbakhsh offers the perfect differential.
Sitting in just 0.1% of squads, the Iranian has scored against Bournemouth and Chelsea in each of the Seagulls’ last two at the Amex Stadium.
Jahanbakhsh has produced eight shots and five shots in the box in the last three Gameweeks – both are more than any team-mate.
The aerial impact of Sebastien Haller (2.4% owned) could prove decisive for West Ham against Everton.
The Frenchman has won 28 headed duels in the last two Gameweeks since David Moyes took charge, more than any other player in FPL.
Everton, meanwhile, have conceded 13 headers in Carlo Ancelotti’s four matches in charge, the joint-worst record in the league.
Expect plenty of crosses from Moyes’ men, then, with Haller making a late charge for our consideration ahead of the Hammers’ Double Gameweek 24.
If Brighton can keep Jack Grealish quiet they will have a good shot at a clean sheet, so I look to Mat Ryan as my first goalkeeper selection.
Kasper Schmeichel will hope to shut out Burnley, though the Leicester defence has looked suspect in recent weeks, and Kepa Arrizabalaga travels to Newcastle to play a somewhat in-form Miguel Almiron.
I see very few clean sheets this weekend and can make an argument for any team conceding. Manchester City look one of the stronger bets, but I’ll look to attacking potential in my defensive picks this week. Trent Alexander-Arnold is, therefore, my first pick, with Matt Doherty, Ricardo Pereira and Serge Aurier taking spots two through four, and Reece James occupying fifth position.
After scoring six in Gameweek 22, I lean on Manchester City’s attacking assets, starting with Kevin De Bruyne. While this is partly due to what I see as some security of starts, he also has the ability to pour it on and is central to what City do going forward.
Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho and Spurs need to find some form and, without Harry Kane, Son Heung-min looks poised to be a central figure for them.
Todd Cantwell tops the ‘value’ chart for all players in Gameweek 22 in our Rate My Team tool and is high in my thinking this week, while Richarlison and Jack Grealish also have promising away fixtures.
Up front, I’m counting on another start and strong performance from Sergio Aguero, while Tammy Abraham is beginning to find form, with a strong fixture before they become more difficult from Gameweek 24.
Jamie Vardy will force his way into my picks again and until he stops returning he’ll likely retain his spot every week.
Teemu Pukki should be fit enough to start against Bournemouth, and I look to a very out-of-form striker for my possibly surprising fifth pick: Callum Wilson.
THE COMMUNITY CHAMPION
Each week, one of the Fantasy Football Scout community takes on the Scout Picks by pitting their chosen XI against ours.
The community member who beats our picks by the biggest margin over the campaign will win a £100 Amazon Voucher and a place in our Moderators and Contributors League for the following season.
Last week, Pep Pig lost 64-72 to the Scout Picks.
Irfansheikh and AK’s 17-point winning margins from Gameweek 6 and 10 remain the current targets to beat.
Our Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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