This weekly precursor to the Scout Picks sees our four-man panel propose a long-list of the standout Fantasy Premier League assets for the upcoming Gameweek.
Fantasy Football Scout editor David, deputy editor Neale, video content manager Andy and Pro Pundit Tom will each put forward an 18-man squad of players and explain their notable inclusions and omissions below.
The nominations listed will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83m) for the weekly Scout Picks selection ahead of Saturday’s deadline at 11:00 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 Friday.
|GK||Bernd Leno||Bernd Leno||Rui Patricio||Ederson|
|Alex McCarthy||Nick Pope||Bernd Leno||Bernd Leno|
|Emiliano Martinez||Alex McCarthy||Alex McCarthy||Alex McCarthy|
|DF||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Reece James||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Romain Saiss||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Romain Saiss||Andrew Robertson|
|Timothy Castagne||James Justin||Reece James||Lucas Digne|
|Rob Holding||Willy Boly||Lucas Digne||Reece James|
|Jamal Lewis||Ryan Bertrand||James Justin||James Justin|
|MF||Kevin De Bruyne||Raheem Sterling||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Raheem Sterling||Harvey Barnes||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Raheem Sterling|
|Sadio Mane||Sadio Mane||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Wilfried Zaha||Phil Foden||Harvey Barnes||Harvey Barnes|
|Daniel Podence||Pedro Neto||James Ward-Prowse||Adama Traore|
|FW||Danny Ings||Danny Ings||Danny Ings||Raul Jimenez|
|Raul Jimenez||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Raul Jimenez||Danny Ings|
|Alexandre Lacazette||Raul Jimenez||Jamie Vardy||Che Adams|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Jamie Vardy||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin|
|Che Adams||Alexandre Lacazette||Timo Werner||Jamie Vardy|
Most popular picks: Bernd Leno, Alex McCarthy, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Danny Ings, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Raul Jimenez (four), James Justin, Reece James, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Harvey Barnes, Jamie Vardy (three)
A double-up on the Arsenal defence was an easy choice for Gameweek 4 considering they host Sheffield United on Sunday afternoon.
The Blades are the only side left to find the net this season while the return of Kieran Tierney to the fold should boost the clean sheet potential of Bernd Leno and Rob Holding.
I should probably also explain why I included Emiliano Martínez ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Aston Villa. Dean Smith’s men have made significant improvements at the back since June, facing just 10 shots per game this season, compared to 16 in 2019/20.
While a clean sheet against Liverpool is a tall order, Martinez was joint-second for saves during Project Restart, so I expect him to frustrate the Reds and rack up the additional points.
I am expecting the Wolves defence to bounce back from two disappointing results when Fulham come to Molineux. While they have struggled to replicate Project Restart form, Scott Parker’s side are in the division’s bottom three for big chances this season, blanking twice already. Romain Saïss is my chosen representative, having registered more shots in the box than any other Wolves defender, while only two clubs have conceded more attempts from set plays than Fulham.
Jamal Lewis also sneaks into my selection to represent the Newcastle defence. They face a Burnley side second only to Sheffield United for the Premier League’s lowest goal conversion rate (7.7%).
Manchester City may have struggled to get going against Leicester, but Leeds’ open playing style could be exactly what they need to face to get back on track in Gameweek 4.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men are currently in the division’s bottom two for shots conceded in the box, big chances conceded and expected goals conceded (xGC). So I’m going to include the best two Manchester City assets capable of exploiting that in Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
Sadio Mané gets the nod over Mohamed Salah this week. He is usually more reliable on the road than his Egyptian colleague anyway, but the Gameweek 3 win over Arsenal saw him emerge with the most touches and shots in the box too – usually something Salah beats him on.
Even though Villa are much-improved, Mané has a particular preference for this fixture, with six goals in six Premier League games against the Villains. Arsenal (seven) and Crystal Palace (nine) are the only clubs against whom he boasts a better record.
Wilfried Zaha is perhaps a surprise inclusion but I still don’t trust the Chelsea defence. I was initially going to include Andros Townsend, who is yet to blank this season, and could expose Frank Lampard’s ongoing issues defending set plays.
However, Zaha has six attacking returns (three goals, three assists) in 12 Premier League meetings with Chelsea. Against no other side does he have a better record.
The inclusion of Daniel Podence is perhaps more in hope than expectation. If he is fit and ready to start against Fulham, the way they are defending right now, I can’t see him not getting an attacking return, with two assists from two appearances so far this season.
Meanwhile, Raúl Jiménez is looking a strong candidate for Gameweek 4 anyway but, considering his alternated role in penalties with Ruben Neves, he could find even more joy against Fulham. No team has conceded more fouls than so far this season than Parker’s men (48), picking up a league-high 10 yellow cards along the way.
Meanwhile, I have gone for a Southampton forwards double-up of Danny Ings and Che Adams, as they face West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies conceded 11 goals in their first three matches of the campaign. No English top-flight side has given up that many in their opening three league games since Arsenal in 1963/64 (12).
I also like the look of Alexandre Lacazette against Sheffield United. Arsenal’s number nine still hasn’t blanked yet this season, while no player in the league has been afforded more big chances.
There is an abundance of appealing-looking fixtures in Gameweek 4, although the early-season form of Brighton, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa could make life that little bit harder for Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Even Leicester’s home match against West Ham United might not be as straightforward as it appears on first glance, with the Hammers looking dangerous in attack and uncharacteristically solid in defence since moving to a wing-back system in Gameweek 2.
Still, their right flank looks like a potential weakness with a raw and shaky-looking Ben Johnson likely to deputise for the injured Ryan Fredericks this weekend. Issa Diop might well be back following his 10-day stint in self-isolation but if the snail-paced Fabian Balbuena (who admittedly performed well against Wolves) is tasked with covering for him again, then I could see a lot of joy for a dynamic James Justin and Harvey Barnes – both of whom have really impressed from an eye test and stats perspective so far this season.
I’ve fewer concerns about Fulham and West Bromwich Albion as opposition to target, particularly from a defensive point of view. One look at the ‘goals against’ column for both sides should explain away my Raul Jimenez and Danny Ings selections but it’s worth elaborating on my other picks from Wolves and Southampton.
Pedro Neto will be a bit of a placeholder for Daniel Podence if the latter is passed fit but I thought looked he lively in the 4-0 defeat to West Ham last weekend and has a share of dead-ball duties, so I’d be happy enough to see him make the Scout Picks – even if the threat of rotation is a very real one.
Ryan Bertrand also chips in with the corner-taking at Southampton and he sits in the top ten among FPL defenders for final-third touches in 2020/21. He took up some advanced positions in last week’s win over Burnley en route to a clean sheet and two bonus points, so I’m backing him against an Albion side who have created relatively few clear-cut chances off their own back despite netting on five occasions in the last two Gameweeks.
Bernd Leno is my top goalkeeper pick as Sheffield United are goalless so far in 2020/21, while Mikel Arteta’s insistence on passing out from the back is aiding the German’s bonus points potential.
I opted for Andrew Robertson as my Liverpool defensive cover last week but I’ve switched allegiances to Trent Alexander-Arnold this time around, with Aston Villa still allowing a lot of crosses despite keeping back-to-back clean sheets. Robertson might now be taking his fair share of corners but Alexander-Arnold still looks to be the arch-creator from open play and there could be joy to be had against Matt Targett, who still looks the weakest link in that improving Villans backline.
Finally, I’m doubling up on Manchester City’s attacking assets for their trip to Leeds. I wrote in the Gameweek 3 Scout Notes earlier in the week that I could see Saturday’s match at Elland Road just as easily ending 5-0 to the visitors as I could 3-2 to the Whites, such is City’s capacity to either turn on the style or shoot themselves in the foot.
Marcelo Bielsa isn’t naive and will know the dangers of a high press against City but for all the plaudits they have received so far, they are still conceding chances for fun.
Raheem Sterling‘s pace could be lethal against the hosts’ backline, while I’ve opted for Phil Foden – whose breather in midweek I hope means he starts on Saturday – as a cut-price alternative in order to free up some of the Scout Picks committee’s budget on Friday.
This week, I’m targeting two of the worst defences in the league.
West Bromwich Albion and Fulham have already shipped 21 goals between them and given up a boatload of chances.
The Baggies opponents, Southampton, are one of three teams I’ve tripled up on. While the Danny Ings pick requires little attention, James Ward-Prowse’s delivery from dead-ball situations could lead to assists, bearing in mind no team has conceded more set-play attempts than Albion over the opening weeks. Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is also called up following an improved defensive display at Burnley in Gameweek 3.
Fulham are in dire straits as they head to Molineux on Sunday, and given I’m expecting a reaction from Wolverhampton Wanderers, things could get even worse. Raul Jiménez has started strongly, having scored in two of the opening three Gameweeks, while my faith in Nuno Espírito Santo’s backline is still intact, with Rui Patrício and Romain Saïss selected.
The Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton picks largely speak for themselves, so I’ll dedicate a bit more time to some of my other inclusions.
Sheffield United’s two defeats without scoring lead me to Bernd Leno in goal, and further forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. So far this season, the Blades have looked particularly vulnerable down their right flank. Their 18 chances conceded is the highest in the division from that side of the pitch, which I expect the Gabonese forward to capitalise on.
Meanwhile, I’ve also tripled up on league leaders Leicester City for their meeting with West Ham United.
Jamie Vardy was in rampant form at Manchester City last weekend, in what was a textbook counter-attacking display. Although four of his five goals this season have come from the spot, it’s worth noting he’s earnt three of those penalties himself.
I also like differential favourite Harvey Barnes, who has taken up the most advanced average position in each of the Foxes’ three matches so far. His 10 shots in the box, which ranks second amongst all midfielders, is also encouraging.
The final spot sees James Justin get the nod over fellow full-back Timothy Castagne. Despite the Belgian suggesting earlier this season he’d be the more likely of the two to get forward, it’s not as clear cut when viewing the data. The Englishman is ahead of his teammate for shots, crosses and final-third touches, and comes in at a cheaper price too.
You’d be a fool to keep a player because they’re “due” – which is exactly why Che Adams is still in my FPL side. He’s the only player with three or more big chances in the opening three Gameweeks who hasn’t found the back of the net yet. What better opportunity to end the drought than to play a side who have already conceded 8.84 expected goals in the form of West Brom.
Despite not registering points against Manchester City, Harvey Barnes still looked great. He’s already had 10 shots in the box this season and created three chances. West Ham performed well against Wolves but I’m hoping that was an anomaly and they’ll revert back to the team that conceded 62 goals last season.
Speaking of Wolves v West Ham, it hasn’t yet done enough to put me off backing Wolves players. Raúl Jiménez looks a great option against a Fulham side who haven’t yet done anything to convince me they shouldn’t be targeted for goals. Because of this I’ve gone for the double up with Adama Traoré who you’d think would be less susceptible to rotation compared to Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto.
In defence, I’m keeping faith in Lucas Digne. There aren’t many more attacking full-backs in the league right now and indeed only Reece James and Ryan Fredericks have created more chances than the Frenchman since the season began.
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, DAZZ was a 50-41 victor over the Scout Picks.
AA33‘s winning 53-point margin in Gameweek 2 is the target to beat.
Our next Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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