After a three-month break, the Scout Squad panel have reassembled to champion the standout Fantasy Premier League picks for Double Gameweek 30+.
Regular readers will know the format of this recurring feature but for the uninitiated, staff members Andy (sitting in for the otherwise engaged Paul), David, Neale and Geoff each propose an 18-man squad of players for the approaching Gameweek 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 Wednesday’s deadline at 17:00 BST.
There are requirements for at least one goalkeeper costing £5.0m or less, at least one sub-£5.0m defender, at least one midfielder listed at £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 Wednesday.
|GK||Bernd Leno||Ederson||Bernd Leno||Bernd Leno|
|Dean Henderson||Dean Henderson||Pepe Reina||Dean Henderson|
|Ederson||Bernd Leno||Martin Dubravka||Kasper Schmeichel|
|DF||John Lundstram||Enda Stevens||John Lundstram||Aymeric Laporte|
|Enda Stevens||John Egan||Enda Stevens||Enda Stevens|
|Matt Doherty||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Kieran Tierney||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||Matt Doherty||Trent Alexander-Arnold||John Egan|
|Jamaal Lascelles||Jamaal Lascelles||Matt Doherty||Romain Saiss|
|MF||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Jack Grealish||Jack Grealish||Raheem Sterling||Jack Grealish|
|Nicolas Pepe||Sadio Mane||Jack Grealish||Nicolas Pepe|
|Bruno Fernandes||Mason Mount||Mason Mount||John McGinn|
|Anwar El Ghazi||Ismaila Sarr||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes|
|FW||Sergio Aguero||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Sergio Aguero||Sergio Aguero|
|Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Sergio Aguero||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang|
|Raul Jimenez||Raul Jimenez||Oli McBurnie||Mbwana Samatta|
|Diogo Jota||Mbwana Samatta||Raul Jimenez||Teemu Pukki|
|Tammy Abraham||Callum Wilson||Teemu Pukki||Mason Greenwood|
Most popular picks: Bernd Leno, Enda Stevens, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (four), Dean Henderson, Matt Doherty, Bruno Fernandes, Raul Jimenez (three)
Bernd Leno and Dean Henderson are the key goalkeepers to own for Double Gameweek 30+ in my opinion.
While Arsenal’s defence is not exactly watertight, I’m expecting a hatful of saves from their shot-stopper, who has recorded 104 of them this season (the second-highest in the league).
Meanwhile, Henderson helps you buy into the Premier League’s second-best performing defence of the campaign, which I’m going for heavy reliance on.
Given everything that has gone in recent months, if I’m not going to use this opportunity to take a punt on John Lundstram, when else can I?
There is, of course, some method to my madness on this one. While the GOAT’s chances of starting both Double Gameweek matches are not what they once were, I find it hard to believe he won’t be involved somehow.
After the arrival of Sander Berge in January, Lundstram’s response was excellent, starring from the bench often enough to reclaim his starting berth for the Gameweek 29 win over Norwich.
In that game, he kept a clean sheet, assisted the winning goal and secured maximum bonus for his fifth double-figure haul of the campaign.
Given that’s what Lundstram can offer, why not take the risk on him for a Double Gameweek, especially if, like me, it’s effectively only for one round? He could be in a hungry mood when the Premier League returns, especially after bagging a brace in a recently friendly win too…
Joining Enda Stevens in my defence is Matt Doherty who, like Lundstram, offers explosive appeal but is as nailed-on as it gets. Wolves’ defence was one of the best pre-lockdown, keeping four clean sheets from a possible six between Gameweeks 24 and 29. Add into the mix that during the same period, Doherty was top among defenders for shots in the box.
Kevin De Bruyne is the key midfielder at Manchester City, almost to the point that I arguably don’t need to explain why.
It is worth saying that I’m not a fan of the other City assets in this position, mainly because Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sané and Bernardo Silva will all be competing for the same roles – while nobody can do what De Bruyne does for Pep Guardiola.
I’m interested in a midfielder double-up of Aston Villa players though. Jack Grealish is another obvious one given his heavy involvement this season but Anwar El Ghazi probably looks a bit odd when a lot of people are talking about John McGinn.
In a recent article, I discovered that the Scottish international’s underlying statistics even before he got injured were not quite as promising as El Ghazi’s, who has four goals and five assists to his name this season. As a regular member of Villa’s front three, he seems more likely to start both Double Gameweek 30+ games than McGinn too.
I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll have him in my own squad, but I do think we could get big things from Nicolas Pépé this week. Before lockdown he was showing an element of creativity and goal threat above what Mesut Özil was offering so I think there’s a chance he could reward those who spend the extra money on the Ivorian international – it’s just whether or not I can fit him in my own team!
Bruno Fernandes is my pick of the single Gameweek midfielders. Manchester United face a Spurs defence that was still leaky under Jose Mourinho going into lockdown, and I can’t see three months without full training improving things in that department. Meanwhile, Fernandes has been involved in five of the eight goals scored by the Red Devils since his Premier League debut and it looks like he’s on penalties too.
Sergio Aguero was the first name on my teamsheet for the Double Gameweek. I have a suspicion he will be heavily involved for Manchester City in their two matches, perhaps not even needing 90 minutes in each to perform. He had more minutes than any other member of his team’s front three in the last six matches before lockdown and was top of the league for minutes per xGI in that period too.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is someone who I have historically not trusted to deliver when I need him to, but given this could be the last Double Gameweek of the campaign and many of us have the opportunity to stick the big-guns in, why not? After all, this man was the top-scoring FPL forward last season and is only 16 points behind claiming that prize for a second campaign running.
I am expecting big things from the Wolves forward line for the remainder of the season, especially as it’s West Ham up next. I’ve gone with a double-up on Raúl Jiménez and Diogo Jota here as they both netted three times each between Gameweeks 24 and 29.
There won’t be many Manchester City players who will last all 180 minutes of their Gameweek 30+ double-header against Arsenal and Burnley, but Ederson will – barring injury or suspension – be one of them.
It’s not often I advocate a premium shot-stopper in this article series or consider one for my own FPL squad but I’m doing so here, with the Brazilian accompanying Bernd Leno and Dean Henderson in my goalkeeping picks.
City’s defence has been lamentable at times this season but they now have Aymeric Laporte primed and ready for action, and what a difference he makes to Pep Guardiola’s backline: coincidence or otherwise, the three league matches he has started in 2020 were the only ones that City kept a clean sheet in.
Laporte has Double Gameweek pedigree himself but, after such a long lay-off, I do wonder whether we might see his minutes managed in the form of early substitutions (as happened earlier this year) and I’d be a mite concerned about whether he’d miss out on any shut-out points as a result.
I don’t think there are many “bad” City picks this week.
I doubt whether many of their attacking assets will be handed successive starts but, even then, a lot of their players will surely get somewhere near 90 minutes or more over the two Gameweek 30+ matches combined.
In any other normal Gameweek, the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling would factor into many of our thoughts if we knew they were set for around a full game’s worth of pitch-time.
We can only own three City players though and I’ve gone predictably dullard with Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgian’s only benching in 2019/20 came in the Gameweek 5 defeat at Norwich City and he even started every match during the busy December period, so fingers crossed he can cope with the rigours of two fixtures in a generous five-day period this time around.
Aguero, while likely to share game-time with Jesus, has the best goals-per-90-minutes average (0.99) among active Premier League players this season.
Double Gameweek players unsurprisingly make up more than half of my 18-man squad this time.
Enda Stevens and John Egan complete a Sheffield United defensive triple-up with Henderson, with Stevens’ open-play threat (no Bladesman has created more big chances this season) and Egan’s presence at dead-ball situations (Villa and Newcastle are the two worst teams for set-piece attempts conceded in 2019/20) getting them the nod.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jack Grealish offer both a relative security of starts and a talismanic role in their respective sides, while Mbwana Samatta looks a real threat in the air – at least, when Villa can be bothered to provide adequate service to him.
Onto those players with only one fixture in Gameweek 30, then.
Liverpool assets seem to be the makeweights for many of us as we shift funds around to accommodate the likes of Aguero, Aubameyang and Sterling but there will be unease at moving on players who have served us so well.
Sadio Mane, for example, could well have a field day down Everton’s right; Djibril Sidibe’s defensive shortcomings were woefully exposed in Gameweek 29 and the unconvincing Michael Keane looks set to play as the right-sided centre-back in Yerry Mina’s absence.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Matt Doherty are two premium defenders I’ve plumped for despite not being 100% sure about clean sheet-wise: Everton have been revitalised as an attacking force under Carlo Ancelotti and West Ham looked much more potent when David Moyes moved to a 4-4-2 before COVID-19 stopped play.
Those two players offer so much more than shut-out points, however, having racked up key passes and shots galore in 2019/20 so far.
You’ll notice a distinct lack of representation from Villa’s defence in my squad despite their Double Gameweek and I’ve even gone so far as to actively back against them.
Christian Pulisic is someone I’ve got my eye on based on his quietly impressive stats but he doesn’t (yet) quite offer the guarantee of minutes that Mason Mount does, so I’ve gone with the teacher’s pet option.
Mount has played a part in every single Chelsea game this season, starting all bar four of them, and continues to be involved at dead-ball situations, which could be pertinent based on the Villans’ aforementioned vulnerability at free-kicks and corners.
Ismaila Sarr‘s remarkable home record under Nigel Pearson (seven attacking returns in five games) also sees the influential winger make the cut – although I’m slightly less convinced about his prospects given that a raucous Vicarage Road crowd won’t be able to contribute to the cauldron atmosphere that saw Watford beat Liverpool in Gameweek 28.
I’ve gone back and forth over John Lundstram. I can’t be sure of a first XI starting place, but I can be sure I’m sick of being punished by him. He may get just one start and a bench appearance but that might be all he needs to outscore the other Sheffield United defenders.
In their last six matches only four forwards have taken as many shots in the box as Oliver McBurnie. With a total of five big chances in the same period I’m gambling on him getting points against two of the worst defensive sides in the league when it comes to conceding shots.
Kieran Tierney has not had the greatest start to his Arsenal career with injuries hampering his first season at the club. He’s now seemingly fit, and has started both behind-closed-door training games. It might be something different to the standard Leno pick in goal, and maybe we’ll finally see the player who returned five assists in just 20 league games for Celtic last season.
Continuing to bet against an Aston Villa defence that has conceded the most shots this season, I’ve gone for a single Gameweek option in Mason Mount. Chelsea are a team I’m backing for goals and I’ve gone for what I hope to be one of the attackers we can be more sure might start.
If there’s any week I feel I might be able to go without Liverpool players, it’s this one. However, I’ve said that before and was quickly made to regret not owning Trent Alexander-Arnold. He’s second for chances created this season, not for defenders, out of every single FPL player. It’s a risk to back against, and he’s one of the best single Gameweek defender options out there.
Trying to find an Arsenal attacker not called Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has a chance of starting both Double Gameweek games is difficult. He’s the obvious choice here and will be looking to add to his 17-goal tally so far. Manchester City will provide difficult opposition but if anyone can nick a goal, it’s him.
Raheem Sterling finds himself in the squad as a gut feeling pick. It’s impossible to guess what Pep Guardiola is thinking but behind Kevin De Bruyne I feel that Sterling has the next best chance of starting both games. Second only to Mohamed Salah for expected goal involvement this season, it’s about time he started regressing to the mean. A nice long break should see him fit and ready to go for Project Restart, and he’s my third Manchester City pick alongside De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
The Teemu Pukki party started off in flying fashion this season but came to a halt in the last 11 games where he only scored twice. The Norwich squad have now had a chance to re-group and think about how they’re going to get out of this relegation battle. To do that they’ll need goals and I’m confident Pukki will go back to delivering, just behind my pick of Raúl Jiménez, who’s about as consistent as it gets.
No midfielder has a better points-per-match score than Bruno Fernandes. It’s based on a small sample size but he’s shown he has the quality to deliver. Taking two penalties in one of the behind-closed-door games gives me confidence he will retain them even after missing one. With Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford fit as well, I’d hope that Manchester United will continue where they left off with a win against Spurs.
I’m not sure home and away fixtures will impact on performances based on what we have seen in the Bundesliga and elsewhere, and my top two goalkeepers have four games on the road in Gameweek 30+ between them: Dean Henderson and Bernd Leno.
My first single Gameweek pick is Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, who could well keep out Watford: the Foxes have the third-best defensive record in the league this season.
Aymeric Laporte looks to be the standout defender and City have a nice clean sheet record when he plays. He’s joined by Enda Stevens and John Egan, who along with Henderson give me a rare defensive triple-up.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Romain Saiss, who offer the prospect of returns at both ends of the pitch, are my second and third single Gameweek players.
Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfield pick and is followed, for me, by Jack Grealish. John McGinn has been given a vote of confidence but I think he will player fewer minutes than Grealish; he still makes it into my picks.
Todd Cantwell is my budget midfield pick over Sheffield’s John Fleck, and Bruno Fernandes just beats out Nicolas Pépé for inclusion.
Sergio Aguero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang look easily the top two forward picks and it will be a brave manager who goes without them for the double.
Mbwana Samatta could perform well for Villa, and he’s followed by early-season favourite in the shape of Teemu Pukki.
Finally, Mason Greenwood is a fantastic price and should see increased game time for the final stretch of the season, along with a superb scoring record.
With only seven single Gameweek picks I’ve nearly gone for a full complement of Double Gameweekers – the only things stopping me are questions over Arsenal defending and midfield selections.
With uncertain form after a long time away, I think the security and upside potential upside of two fixtures is worth chasing in Double Gameweek 30+.
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 29, Bilal7 beat the Scout Picks 48-40.
gwitbrock‘s winning margin of 23 points in Gameweek 25 is the target to beat.
Our Scout Picks article on Wednesday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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