Welcome to the Fantasy Football Scout Guide to Gameweek 5.
The international break is over – don’t worry, only 23 days to go until the next one – and it promises to be a crucial four-Gameweek period between now and then. The action gets underway this weekend with the Merseyside derby.
This guide aims to pick out all the crucial bits of information to help you ready your FPL team ahead of the 11:00 BST deadline.
The headline news from yesterday’s press conferences was undoubtedly the confirmed absence of Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m).
The 34.6%-owned Belgian had been a captaincy contender ahead of Manchester City’s clash with Arsenal, having totalled 33 points across two matches against the Gunners last season.
But attention now turns away from Pep Guardiola’s troops leaving Fantasy managers faced with a tricky decision. Jan Sienkiewicz summed up the situation in Captain Sensible:
It’s a far from straightforward week concerning the captaincy, with fixtures that would have looked good on paper before the season started suddenly not appearing as favourable.– Jan
Tottenham Hotspur take on a much-improved West Ham: over the last three Gameweeks, no team has allowed fewer shots from inside their box than the Hammers. And Everton, who face Liverpool, have the next-meanest defence.
But as Legomané humorously observed, it’s nigh-on impossible to tell what constitutes an easy fixture these days.
Southampton is the perfect game for the new look Chelsea… I know [Southampton’s] defensive numbers have been better, but I’m looking at them thinking if they play their high line, and you’ve got players like Werner and Pulisic, and Havertz pulling the strings and Ziyech doing all these creative bits in behind, then I think they’re going to really get at them. So I really like this fixture for Chelsea.– Az
Although caution is perhaps advised for those considering the returning Christian Pulisic (£8.3m), Matt Henley neatly encapsulating the dilemma facing Fantasy managers:
Pulisic is quality but his legs are made of Weetabix.– Matt Henley
And in a Gameweek of divided opinions, Joe took a different view on Chelsea:
According to the expected goals stat, it looks like [Chelsea] may have got slightly lucky… the expected goals is 6.87, so very high, but the goals they’ve scored is 10, so they are overperforming.– Joe speaking in the Captaincy Video
Spurs players appeal most to Joe. And with the news that De Bruyne has been ruled out, the veteran Scoutcaster is considering swapping out the Belgian for Son Heung-min (£9.2m). Could Son even be handed the captain’s armband?
I think Son is a very good captain pick in a week where I don’t think there are many good captains.– Joe
West Ham have just a 15 per cent chance of a clean sheet, according to the odds supplied by G-Whizz, adding weight to the idea of backing a Spurs player. Harry Kane (£10.6m) gets the nod from BigManBakar:
Kane has created the highest amount of big chances in the league which add to his value. He has the best expected goal involvement (xGI) since the season started of all players in the league, so with great fixtures to come I believe he’s the main asset to own.– BigManBakar
Schadenfreude and exciting new differentials
Schadenfreude is not the name of a former Spurs midfielder but one of the few German words adopted directly into the English language. If you want to know exactly what it means, take a look at Pro Pundit Sam Bonfield and husband Lee in their Top Five Wildcard Picks video from last week.
Spurs-fan Sam reveled in reminding Liverpool-fan Lee how many goals the Reds conceded to Aston Villa, leading fellow Pro Pundit Zophar to accuse her of “spousal abuse” on the FPL Wire. If that’s not enjoying the misfortune of others, I don’t know what is. By the way, it was seven goals in case anyone had forgotten.
But all seemed well on Friday with the Bonfields in daring mood, braving the heights at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Following their adrenaline rush, will either of them feel emboldened to add Gareth Bale (£9.5m) to their squads?
The video footage released by both Bale and Spurs over the International break shows a player back in full training, looking happy and sharp. He has personally commented on the quality of the care and the facilities at Spurs and, after being overlooked for a few seasons in Spain, may feel he has something to prove (see Rodriguez at Everton for an indicator of what’s possible)… but, for me right now, the form of both Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min are just impossible to ignore, so you should make one or both your first picks from Tottenham’s assets.– Sam
However, Jose Mourinho was noncommittal about whether Bale would start on Sunday:
He’s there, he’s there. Probably he plays Sunday, if he doesn’t he will on Thursday, but he’s there, he’s very, very close.– Jose Mourinho
Bale isn’t the only enticing differential ahead of Gameweek 5. Pro Pundits Lateriser and Tom Freeman have both talked up Aston Villa assets during the international break.
Ross Barkley (£5.9m) and Ollie Watkins (£6.0m) appeal to Lateriser along with Brighton’s Leandro Trossard (£6.0m). The Seagulls midfielder is taking up a very advanced position and producing some impressive underlying stats: only four midfielders have taken more shots.
Meanwhile Zophar pointed out that Ross Barkley was practically a support striker against Liverpool, judging by his shot map. And Tom even suggested he could be on penalties.
The Villa fan also singled out Watkins as his top differential pick, writing in glowing terms of his all-round potential and striking ability. The former Brentford star could benefit from an injury-hit Leicester City on Sunday, with Cağlar Söyüncü (£5.5m) set to miss out and his central defensive partner, Jonny Evans (£5.5m), a doubt with abdominal pain.
Tom concluded his Pro Pundit piece:
I’m not totally convinced Villa will be good week in, week out, but if the connection between Grealish, Barkley and Watkins continues, they could offer FPL managers some serious value, and the fixtures between Gameweeks 6-15 will certainly give them the platform to impress.– Tom
Elsewhere, Under-17 World Cup winner, Rhian Brewster (£4.5m), has piqued the interest of many in the FPL Community following his move to Sheffield United. Neale ran the rule over the former Liverpool youngster highlighting his finishing strength during a successful loan period at Swansea. The new recruit also picked up the Golden Boot at the Under-17 World Cup in India back in 2017.
Described as “a gift from the FPL gods” by Zophar, Brewster’s budget price tag enables us to upgrade our squad in other positions. Which could be handy for owners of Tyrick Mitchell (£4.1m) with the news that Patrick van Aanholt (£5.4m) is “back”.
Ahead of an enticing run, Van Aanholt was Joe’s differential pick on the Scoutcast – six of Crystal Palace’s next seven fixtures are rated at just two on the FPL website.
And on FPL Black Box, Mark gave the Dutchman a ringing endorsement, pointing out that Palace perform very well against weaker opposition – they kept eight clean sheets against teams outside the ‘Big Seven’ (the ‘Big Six’ plus Leicester) – and Van Aanholt averaged five points per match in those games. What’s more, Mark thinks that he could be on penalties and free-kicks.
However, not everyone was so enthusiastic. Granville gave a withering reply when asked if he was a fan of PVA: “yeah, when I’m putting up wallpaper.”
Meanwhile Pro Pundit Holly found it useful to delve into the stats in an attempt to find some clarity during what’s been an unpredictable start to the season.
The first name highlighted using her sanguine approach was Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m):
Calvert-Lewin leads the goal-scoring charts with six goals from six big chances, as well as dominating the shots (15) and shots on target (nine) behind just Harry Kane (£10.6m).– Holy
Sometimes the obvious picks are the best.
Finally, Pro Pundit Andy revealed a stat that few expected to hear at the start of the season:
At 7.72 xGC [Manchester United] are the second worst defence statistically and are only kept off the bottom spot by West Brom, a stat that looks even worse when you consider United have only played three matches.– Andy
It’s not a pretty picture for followers of the Red Devils: they are one of only four teams in the whole of English professional football to have conceded more goals than they’ve managed shots on target in 2020/21.
Site moderator Gregor (real name Graeme Sumner) was invited to join Joe on his popular Meet the Manager series.
Graeme has managed an outstanding three top 1,000 finishes during his FPL career, the best of which was 29th overall in 2016/17. An advocate of the eye test over stats, Graeme talked about his style of play and plans for the upcoming Gameweeks – he has it all mapped out with Antonio set to be his captain in Gameweek 8 for an enticing home encounter against Fulham.
Make time to watch the interview if you haven’t seen it already.
Earlier this week, the Best of the Community feature covered a range of topics from Chelsea’s defence to innovative ideas on how to handle the topsy-turvy start to the season. It also rounded-up all FFScout Mini-Leagues and Community Competitions.
And finally, for those interested in the Head-to-Head Leagues, the main page can be linked to here. The fixtures for Gameweek 5 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.
May your arrows be green!