The Scout Squad panel look at the best Fantasy Premier League assets for Gameweek 26.
In this recurring feature, our four regulars – editorial staff Paul, David and Neale plus community manager Geoff – each proposes an 18-man squad of players 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 Gameweek 26 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||Dean Henderson||Dean Henderson||Dean Henderson||Jordan Pickford|
|Alex McCarthy||Alex McCarthy||Alex McCarthy||Bernd Leno|
|Jordan Pickford||Willy Caballero||Bernd Leno||Mathew Ryan|
|DF||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Lucas Digne||Lucas Digne||Lucas Digne||Lucas Digne|
|Enda Stevens||Enda Stevens||Enda Stevens||Enda Stevens|
|Mason Holgate||David Luiz||Serge Aurier||Serge Aurier|
|Kyle Walker-Peters||Adam Masina||Adam Webster||Jack Stephens|
|MF||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Riyad Mahrez||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min|
|Son Heung-min||Riyad Mahrez||Riyad Mahrez||Leandro Trossard|
|Harvey Barnes||Abdoulaye Doucoure||Leandro Trossard||Bernardo Silva|
|FW||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero||Danny Ings||Sergio Aguero|
|Roberto Firmino||Danny Ings||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang|
|Danny Ings||Roberto Firmino||Roberto Firmino||Danny Ings|
|Troy Deeney||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Raul Jimenez||Raul Jimenez|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin|
Most popular picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lucas Digne, Enda Stevens, Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Son Heung-min, Danny Ings, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (four), Dean Henderson, Alex McCarthy, Riyad Mahrez, Sergio Aguero, Roberto Firmino, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (three)
Given their recent form and the ongoing defensive issues at Norwich, who tend to concede more at Carrow Road, I feel like the inclusions of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino explain themselves.
Elsewhere, I’m doubling up on the Sheffield United defence with Dean Henderson and Enda Stevens as Bournemouth come to visit. The Cherries have scored just one goal in their last five away trips while five of the Blades’ nine clean sheets this season have come at Bramall Lane.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace have scored fewer goals than any other side in 2019/20 (22), which could help Everton to a much-needed clean sheet at Goodison Park.
Lucas Digne has been a reliable asset there of late, especially since Carlo Ancelotti took over. Since the Italian arrived on Merseyside, Everton’s left-back has averaged eight points per home game.
I’m also backing the Southampton defence as they host Burnley. Only Liverpool and Manchester United have conceded fewer big chances in their last four home matches while Burnley remain in the bottom two for shots on target over their last four Premier League outings.
I expect Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Sergio Aguero to run wild when West Ham come to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
David Moyes’ men have conceded 14 big chances over their last four matches, only Aston Villa allowing more than that.
Meanwhile, Aguero is top of the league for shots in the box, big chances and shots on target over the same period – exciting news for him and De Bruyne, who tops the league for key passes in his last four.
As Villa are the only side to have conceded more big chances than West Ham since Gameweek 21, I’m also including Son Heung-min, who may be in a more central role at Spurs following Steven Bergwijn’s arrival.
Harvey Barnes has provided great value of late, registering four attacking returns in as many Premier League outings since Gameweek 22.
During this period only one other midfielder priced below £6.0m has produced more shots on target, suggesting Barnes’ form could continue, even at Wolves.
Danny Ings and Troy Deeney complete my selection, each player falling inside the division’s top six for shots inside the box over the last four matches.
Last weekend was a fairly underwhelming one for FPL forwards but there is ample opportunity for some notable blanking assets to bounce back in Gameweek 26, with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Danny Ings enjoying some plum home fixtures.
There are a number of appealing matches over the next fortnight but, in terms of team news, we will be going in blind with a dozen Premier League clubs, with the winter break playing havoc with the fixture calendar.
There is every chance, then, that at least one of my picks will be flagged as a doubt after the FPL deadline passes on Saturday morning.
We should be up to speed on the fitness front for the four matches this weekend, at least, with Sheffield United and Everton enjoying home fixtures against sides who have struggled to score in 2019/20.
While Bournemouth have picked up back-to-back wins at home, they haven’t scored in four of their last five games on the road and Enda Stevens could potentially profit from a Cherries defence that has conceded more chances from their right flank than any other club over the last six Gameweeks.
Crystal Palace, meanwhile, have not only scored fewer goals than any other Premier League side this season but they have also allowed more crosses from their right flank than any top-flight team over the last dozen Gameweeks: enter Lucas Digne.
The Eagles are without a clean sheet in nine Gameweeks, too, so Dominic Calvert-Lewin has a chance to continue his fine form in the Carlo Ancelotti era.
Brighton v Watford is another game taking place this weekend and I’m siding with the Hornets over the Seagulls, plumping for Watford number ten Abdoulaye Doucoure – who sits in the top ten among midfielders for attempts on goal over the last six Gameweeks – against an Albion defence with only one clean sheet to their name in 14 matches.
Watford have shipped five goals in their last two matches but have generally been fairly solid at the back since Nigel Pearson’s arrival, so Adam Masina – who poses a bit of a goal threat and who was on corners in Gameweek 25 – gets the nod as my token sub-£5.0m defender.
Most of my other selections are heavy-hitters up against lower-table sides, with the nomination of Willy Caballero perhaps the only other one that needs further explanation: Manchester United are without a goal since Gameweek 22, which is coincidentally when the talismanic and still-unavailable Marcus Rashford picked up his back injury.
The main bone of contention in this week’s Scout Picks surrounds the pitch time of Sergio Aguero at home to West Ham.
If he starts, there’s no denying he could run riot against the Hammers defence.
Yet, given the worries over Raheem Sterling’s fitness, I’d rather back Riyad Mahrez and spread the rest of the cash through the starting XI.
Both Aguero and Mahrez have started 14 matches this season, with the latter proving the more explosive with five double-figure hauls to the Argentinean’s four.
At a saving of £3.5m, that seems a logical decision, particularly as I’ll be backing Mohamed Salah with the armband away to Norwich.
Along with Mahrez, Son Heung-min sits in just over 9% of squads ahead of Gameweek 26.
The South Korean has fired 11 shots in the box in the last four Gameweeks since Harry Kane was sidelined – Lucas Moura (six) is the only other Spurs player to manage at least half that total.
I’m also looking to Leandro Trossard to extend his reliable home form against Watford.
All three of the Brighton winger’s goals this season and four of his five assists have come at the Amex Stadium.
When selected, he has been involved in 64% of the Seagulls’ efforts in front of their own supporters.
Indeed, Trossard has averaged 5.1 points per home appearance, yet is owned by less than 1% of FPL squads.
Lucas Digne is another player whose home output merits highlighting as Everton entertain Crystal Palace.
The left-back has averaged 5.4 points per match at Goodison, with 65 of his 81 points coming in home fixtures.
Digne has two assists, two clean sheets and 24 points in his three home outings under new manager, Carlo Ancelotti.
The Crystal Palace game is vital for Everton, as from Gameweek 27 they play five of the traditional top seven and Leicester in a stretch of seven Gameweeks – I therefore look to Jordan Pickford to bank a clean sheet before things potentially turn sour.
Elsewhere, Bernd Leno will hope for his first back-to-back clean sheets of the season against a limited Newcastle United attack, while Mat Ryan should fancy his chances against Watford.
What more can be said about Trent Alexander-Arnold? My settled first defensive pick again gets the top spot in my squad ahead of the Reds’ trip to bottom-of-the-table Norwich City.
Lucas Digne brings his strong home form into his match against Crystal Palace, and Enda Stevens is my pick of the Sheffield United bunch given the well-documented concerns around John Lundstram’s game-time.
Serge Aurier’s attacking threat helps him to fourth spot, while Jack Stephens will try to help Southampton recover from an unfortunate 4-0 Liverpool loss.
With 32 points in two Gameweeks, five double-digit hauls in the last ten Gameweeks, and only one blank in seven matches – Mohamed Salah is an obvious first pick in midfield.
As sure of a start as anyone at Manchester City, I expect Kevin De Bruyne to park himself at the top of the box against a forgiving West Ham defence.
Son Heung-min now has a goal in back-to-back games and could continue that run against Aston Villa, while Leandro Trossard has strong home form this season and plays a Watford side who have conceded five goals in the last two Gameweeks.
Finally, I look to Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva for a midfield double-up, though he drops to fifth due to my uncertainty over Pep Guardiola’s teamsheet.
It’s hard to avoid the big names up top so I complete a Manchester City treble with Sergio Aguero, before looking to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Danny Ings has seen a slight dip in production but has had his minutes managed of late, and I expect returns against Burnley.
Raúl Jiménez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin round off my picks for Gameweek 26.
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.
In Gameweek 25, gwitbrock beat our Scout Picks 86-63 and as a result, their winning margin of 23 points is now the target to beat.
Our Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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