Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea assets are predictably at the forefront of the Scout Squad panel’s thoughts as the two London clubs prepare to face sides in the bottom three this weekend.
For those new to this site, this weekly precursor to the Scout Picks article sees our four-man selection committee champion 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 the FPL deadline at 16:00 GMT on Friday.
There are requirements for at least:
- One goalkeeper costing £5.0m or less
- One sub-£5.0m defender
- One midfielder listed at £6.5m or below
- 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||Lukasz Fabianski||Edouard Mendy||Edouard Mendy||Lukasz Fabianski|
|Alex McCarthy||Bernd Leno||Hugo Lloris||Kasper Schmeichel|
|Illan Meslier||Alex McCarthy||Alex McCarthy||Bernd Leno|
|DF||Kurt Zouma||Ben Chilwell||Ben Chilwell||Ben Chilwell|
|Ben Chilwell||Tariq Lamptey||Tariq Lamptey||Sergio Reguilón|
|Sergio Reguilón||Aaron Cresswell||Aaron Cresswell||Aaron Cresswell|
|Vladimir Coufal||Sergio Reguilón||Hector Bellerín||Luke Ayling|
|Stuart Dallas||Luke Ayling||Stuart Dallas||Tariq Lamptey|
|MF||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Heung-Min Son|
|Jack Grealish||Jarrod Bowen||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Hakim Ziyech|
|Wilfried Zaha||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang|
|Pablo Fornals||Bruno Fernandes||Jarrod Bowen||Pablo Fornals|
|Daniel Podence||Bukayo Saka||James Ward-Prowse||Marcus Rashford|
|FW||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Patrick Bamford||Tammy Abraham||Timo Werner||Timo Werner|
|Timo Werner||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Jamie Vardy||Che Adams|
|Callum Wilson||Callum Wilson||Che Adams||Callum Wilson|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Patrick Bamford||Patrick Bamford||Jamie Vardy|
Most popular picks: Ben Chilwell, Son Heung-min, Harry Kane (four), Alex McCarthy, Tariq Lamptey, Aaron Cresswell, Sergio Reguilon, Callum Wilson, Timo Werner, Patrick Bamford (three)
The time has finally come to invest in West Ham’s defence after their relatively assured start to the campaign, despite their tough fixtures.
Lukasz Fabianski and Vladimir Coufal get the nod from me as the Hammers host Fulham on Saturday evening. The goalkeeper has earned an additional save point in each of his last three matches while wing-back Coufal already has two assists in just four appearances for his new club, averaging 4.3 points per game thus far – and they were against Leicester, Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Kurt Zouma and Ben Chilwell form part of my Chelsea defensive double-up as both players offer potential at both ends of the pitch.
The centre-back is top for shots on target among defenders over the last four matches while Sheffield United have conceded more headed chances than any other side both in the last four and across all Gameweeks this season.
Meanwhile, the Blades have also been susceptible down their right-hand side, giving up more chances in this area of the pitch than any other Premier League team in 2020/21 – which should benefit Chilwell and Timo Werner. Of course, both of these selected Chelsea defenders have decent clean sheet potential too as Sheffield United are the second-worst for shots in the box since Gameweek 4.
Fresh from exploiting Leicester City’s weak right-hand side and scoring in Gameweek 7, Stuart Dallas has another favourable match-up this weekend. He faces a Crystal Palace side that ranks second-worst for chances conceded on the right in the last four matches.
And continuing that theme, Daniel Podence gets a mention for the same reason. It is he who will line up against the Leicester right flank for Wolves, which ranks behind of only Palace and Newcastle for most chances conceded there since Gameweek 4.
Son Heung-min may have blanked for the third home match from a possible four in Gameweek 7 but a trip to West Bromwich Albion is a particularly exciting one for FPL’s most popular asset. Just under 75% of his points have come in away matches this season, while the Baggies’ recent defensive improvements looked something of a false dawn as they lost 2-0 to a poor Fulham side.
42 of Harry Kane‘s 71 points have also come on the road this season, so there’s no reason why he cannot provide another big score at the Hawthorns, especially as only two players have registered more shots on target than him over the last four matches.
One of those is Patrick Bamford who, like the premium Spurs attackers, is also very much an away-day asset, having blanked in each of his last three home matches. The Leeds striker has banked 62.7% of his points on the road this season while only Everton have a worse figure for expected goals conceded (xGC) than Crystal Palace over the last four.
Given how much of an open style Leeds employ under Marcelo Bielsa, I expect Wilfried Zaha to cause problems with his pace and rapid colleagues on the counter-attack. He has two goals in three home matches this season.
Jack Grealish and Pablo Fornals complete my midfield. The Aston Villa man has created more big chances than any other player over the last four matches, also boasting 10 shots in the box, four big chances and five shots on target for incredible all-round points potential.
Meanwhile, I am expecting Fulham’s defence to crumble under a repeat of West Ham’s recent attacking displays, which benefits Fornals. No Hammer (other than the injured Michail Antonio) has registered more shots in the box or efforts on target than him in the last four.
It’s not often that a Manchester City pick requires much justification but, given that many seem to be swerving the clash between the top two of last season, my nomination of Kevin De Bruyne perhaps requires some elaboration.
The vulnerable state of Liverpool’s van Dijk-less backline is, of course, part of the reasoning but it’s as much to do with how Pep Guardiola deploys his creative Belgian in these so-called “bigger” games, with De Bruyne frequently used as a second striker or number 10 rather than on the right-hand side of central midfield.
Indeed, if we think back to this corresponding fixture in July, De Bruyne wreaked havoc from this advanced central position and grabbed two attacking returns in City’s 4-0 win over a Reds side that had admittedly and understandably lost its urge after sealing the Premier League title.
The outside chance of Jarrod Bowen occupying the Michail Antonio role against Fulham this weekend sees him nestled in my picks but, even on his usual right flank, he is capable of causing damage. Pablo Fornals has largely matched or outstripped Bowen for a number of key underlying stats this season but, purely going off what used to be known as ‘watching the games’ before the Eye Test™ burst onto the scene, I favour the former Hull winger’s ability to ghost into dangerous positions: he has almost double the number of penalty box touches as Fornals this season.
Opposition weaknesses are often what we look at in these articles, and a number of my Gameweek 8 picks are indeed influenced by various frailities.
Callum Wilson, for example, gets in as much by virtue of Southampton’s injury crisis as he does through merit. The Saints potentially being under-strength at the back is also one of the reasons why Alex McCarthy is not higher up my list.
Luke Ayling, who, in my eyes, still looks the more potent Leeds full-back despite the shortage of attacking returns, gets the nod over Stuart Dallas, with Crystal Palace bottom of the table for chances conceded from their left flank.
Earning his place in my squad through his own on-field displays is Bukayo Saka. While involvement in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League tie could admittedly prove to be the spanner to my plan, Saka has impressed hugely of late and has started four league matches in a row. Despite often featuring at wing-back, he’s top of Arsenal assets for attempts on goal and shots in the box and averages more penalty box touches per game than even Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Tammy Abraham is my curveball pick, when many others are plumping for Timo Werner. The German was due to be rested last weekend at Burnley, only for a Christian Pulisic injury to catapult him straight back into the Chelsea starting XI. Lasting 90 minutes in that match and again in midweek, I do worry, as an owner, that Werner might finally face bench duty against Sheffield United.
Both Abraham and Werner can play in the same team, of course, as we saw twice already this week. It’ll be the former who is deployed centrally if they do both make the cut and, as someone who is quite decent at nipping in front of a defender to meet a cross, his ability to find a half-yard of space may come in useful against a Blades backline that aims to stifle. Quality service from the likes of Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Hakim Ziyech will also help no end.
Chelsea’s clean sheet prospects look as good as any this weekend, with their Gameweek 7 opponents Sheffield United failing to find the back of the net in four of their seven matches so far. In fact, if you remove penalties, they’ve scored just one goal all season. Edouard Mendy has now kept clean sheets in each of his last five appearances, while Ben Chilwell is averaging 8.25 points per game since making his debut.
West Ham United’s home fixture against Fulham also stands out. The Hammers have impressed in recent weeks, with Aaron Cresswell performing well as their left-sided centre-half. As a result, he isn’t getting forward quite as much, but he is creating from deeper areas and set-plays, which is highlighted by the fact that he ranks first amongst defenders for successful crosses and chances created this season.
Héctor Bellerín also returns to the squad. Since his last appearance in Gameweek 2, the 25-year-old has racked up three assists, with Arsenal putting up some decent defensive numbers. Aston Villa’s left flank, which tends to look a bit more vulnerable, also comes into my thinking.
Hugo Lloris, Alex McCarthy, Tariq Lamptey (if fit) and Stuart Dallas complete the picks at the back.
Further forward, the inclusion of heavy-hitters Son Heung-min, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kevin De Bruyne and Harry Kane largely speak for themselves, so I’ll dedicate a bit more time to some of my differentials.
Jarrod Bowen has already netted three times this season and ranks in the top 10 midfielders for big chances and expected goals (xG). Despite being far from his best at Anfield on Saturday night, I’m tipping him to get back on track against a Fulham side who have given up 20 chances down their left-hand side this season – only Crystal Palace and Burnley have allowed more from that zone.
Southampton duo James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams also get the nod.
Ward-Prowse has played a direct hand in four goals in his last two matches and could have more joy against Newcastle United who often look vulnerable defending set-pieces. Adams could benefit too, bearing in mind that the Magpies have failed to keep a clean sheet since the opening day.
The forward list is completed by Timo Werner, Jamie Vardy and Patrick Bamford.
After Burnley kept Tottenham Hotspur at bay for long periods of the match in Gameweek 6, I was expecting a similar game against Chelsea in Gameweek 7. Chelsea ended up cruising to a fairly routine 3-0 win and showed that they have the ability to unlock teams who like to defend.
With this in mind, I’ve selected Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner. Ziyech may have been a bit fortunate to get a goal and assist from just one shot on goal and one chance created but as he integrates more with the side, he’s going to show us just what he can do.
Despite Manchester United’s poor showing against Arsenal, I’ve put Marcus Rashford into my squad. Everton have conceded two goals in each of their last four matches, with United scoring seven goals across their two away fixtures so far. If there are no penalties I fancy Rashford to outscore Bruno Fernandes.
Even with Michail Antonio potentially missing, Fulham isn’t a fixture that you can ignore. Jarrod Bowen is tempting, but Pablo Fornals has played almost the same amount of minutes so far this season and created four more chances, as well as had two more shots in the box. With five attacking returns already this season he has the fixture to make it more.
As a Stuart Dallas owner, I find myself relieved that he outscored Luke Ayling against Leicester. However, I can’t help but watch Leeds and always wonder if I had the wrong full-back. Dallas has had more shots so far, but only one extra in the box (three v two). When it comes to chances created Ayling, leads eight v three. From the eye test, Ayling seems to consistently be up and down the touchline, with Dallas further back, although he does sometimes move into midfield. All in all, it’s probably a close one, but I’m trusting the eyes on this one and hoping for a bounce-back against Crystal Palace.
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.
AA33‘s winning 53-point margin in Gameweek 2 is the target to beat.
In Gameweek 7, the Scout Picks triumphed 67-50 over Riot to take a 5-2 lead over the community.
Our next Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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