Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester United players dominate the Scout Squad panel’s picks for Gameweek 9 as Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are largely overlooked.
For the uninitiated, this weekly precursor to the Scout Picks selection sees our four-man 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 long-list of players and explain their notable inclusions and omissions below.
The nominations listed will then be whittled 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 11:00 GMT on Saturday.
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||Alex McCarthy||Vicente Guaita||Lukasz Fabianski||Nick Pope|
|Nick Pope||Emiliano Martinez||Vicente Guaita||Emiliano Martínez|
|Sam Johnstone||Bernd Leno||Emiliano Martínez||Lukasz Fabianski|
|DF||Kurt Zouma||Ben Chilwell||Ben Chilwell||Ben Chilwell|
|Aaron Cresswell||Harry Maguire||Aaron Cresswell||Nélson Semedo|
|Harry Maguire||Aaron Cresswell||Alex Telles||Lucas Digne|
|Patrick van Aanholt||James Tarkowski||Patrick van Aanholt||Harry Maguire|
|Matt Targett||Max Kilman||Tariq Lamptey||Vladimir Coufal|
|MF||James Rodríguez||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes|
|Hakim Ziyech||Jack Grealish||Sadio Mané||Hakim Ziyech|
|Jack Grealish||Hakim Ziyech||Jack Grealish||James Rodríguez|
|Marcus Rashford||Tomas Soucek||Hakim Ziyech||Jack Grealish|
|Pablo Fornals||Ademola Lookman||Eberechi Eze||Diogo Jota|
|FW||Timo Werner||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Timo Werner||Dominic Calvert-Lewin|
|Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Timo Werner|
|Patrick Bamford||Anthony Martial||Jamie Vardy||Anthony Martial|
|Ollie Watkins||Timo Werner||OIlie Watkins||Ollie Watkins|
|Harry Kane||Ollie Watkins||Patrick Bamford||Raul Jimenez|
Most popular picks: Hakim Ziyech, Jack Grealish, Timo Werner, Ollie Watkins (four), Emiliano Martínez, Ben Chilwell, Aaron Cresswell, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jamie Vardy (three)
Alex McCarthy is my top choice in goal for Gameweek 9. Only two teams have registered fewer shots in the box than Wolves in the last four matches, while Southampton’s custodian sits behind only two other custodians for points-per-million-spent so far this season (7.3).
No team has conceded fewer big chances since Gameweek 5 than Manchester United, who face a West Bromwich Albion outfit who have found the net just once in their last three away trips. Harry Maguire seems the standout option from the Red Devils’ defence, with more shots in the box than any Premier League defender in their last four matches.
Meanwhile, Patrick van Aanholt could be in for a decent showing at Burnley. The Clarets are still the division’s lowest scorers, with three goals, while only one other defender ranks better than Crystal Palace’s left-back for expected goal involvement (xGI) over the last four, and van Aanholt has only started two matches in that period having recently reclaimed his place.
The return of Richarlison to the Everton set-up should help James Rodríguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin fulfil their Fantasy potential for Sunday’s trip to Fulham. In the Brazilian’s absence, Calvert-Lewin averaged 4.7 points per game, having scored 8.6 points per match between Gameweeks 1 to 5. Meanwhile, over the last four matches, no team has conceded more headed attempts than Fulham, which bodes well for Calvert-Lewin’s well-documented aerial threat, as well as Rodríguez’s role as Everton’s corner-taker.
I also fancy a double-up on the Chelsea attack as they face a Newcastle outfit that has conceded the second-highest number of shots on target over the last four matches.
Timo Werner has the Premier League’s third-highest expected goals non-penalty figure over the last four matches and is now taking Chelsea’s spot-kicks on top of that. During that time only two players have been afforded more big chances than Werner, whose shot accuracy of 55.6% and goal conversion rate of 44.4% are impressive indeed.
Meanwhile, only two clubs have given up more chances from set plays than Newcastle this season; perfect for Hakim Ziyech to continue his blistering form. No player has created more big chances than him over the last four matches, despite the Moroccan only featuring for 190 minutes. The Magpies’ susceptibility in this area is also why I have included Kurt Zouma once again.
If Marcus Rashford is fit enough to start against West Bromwich Albion, I think he is a better prospect for Gameweek than the popular Bruno Fernandes. The Englishman is usually more impressive at Old Trafford than his Portuguese colleague, who has 3.3 points per game there this season. Furthermore, across home appearances in 2019/20, Rashford bested Fernandes’ per-game numbers for expected goals, expected goals non-penalty, penalty box touches, shots, shots in the box, shots on target, big chances, accuracy, goal conversion rate and big chances created.
Sheffield United are increasingly establishing themselves as whipping boys this season, which is why I have selected Pablo Fornals as my fifth midfielder. He plays predominantly on the left of West Ham’s attacking midfield, which should enjoy an outing against the Blades’ weak right-hand side of their defence. For that reason, left-sided centre-back Aaron Cresswell should also do well, considering he ranks third-best for key passes among defenders since Gameweek 5.
Jamie Vardy may be somewhat reliant on penalties but considering the state of Liverpool’s defence, it is hard to see him not getting something at Anfield, a stadium where he has two goals in his last four Premier League trips. Furthermore, over the last four matches, Vardy is joint-top of the league for big chances and shots on target.
Level with him in those areas is Patrick Bamford, who also leads the shots-in-the-box category for the same period.
Even though Brighton have been boasting some positive underlying defensive statistics recently, combination with the eye test shows us that they are very susceptible to the counter-attack. With Jack Grealish in excellent form and Ollie Watkins finding his feet in the Premier League, I expect Aston Villa to punish the Seagulls for this weakness on Saturday afternoon.
I can’t remember a time when I’ve not selected a single player from the squads of Liverpool, Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur but that’s the situation we face ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Pep Guardiola’s side have yet to really hit full-throttle on the domestic front this season and I can see his opposite number in the Spurs dugout attempting to produce one of his big-game specials, much as he did when the fortuitous Lilywhites ground out a 2-0 win over ten-man City in February.
The Reds’ phenomenal home form could well continue against top-of-the-table Leicester City, meanwhile, but a wave of illness and injury leaves them unquestionably under-strength and I can foresee Brendan Rodgers trying to smother the Liverpool left side in the knowledge that Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah are missing from the opposite flank.
In fact, the only player I’ve selected from either side ahead of Sunday’s game at Anfield is Jamie Vardy; with Joel Matip and (if fit) Fabinho competent deputies but lacking the recovery pace of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, I can see the Leicester City striker nicking a goal on the break on Merseyside.
Triple-ups on Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester United assets are largely self-explanatory given the calibre of opposition, so I’ll expand on some of my other selections in these remaining column inches.
Sheffield United are the only Premier League side without a clean sheet in 2020/21 and, at the other end, they’ve scored only four goals – just one of which came from open play – in their eight league matches to date.
The Blades have allowed more headed chances than any other top-flight club this season, a stat which could bode well for Tomas Soucek given that he sits top among FPL midfielders for headed opportunities.
Chris Wilder’s side have also allowed more chances to be created from their right flank than any other team, so I’d be happy to see either Aaron Cresswell or Arthur Masuaku make the cut; the former gets the nod in my own selection given his involvement at free-kicks and corners.
Ademola Lookman gets another look-in in my long-list, meanwhile.
Widely mocked for his dismal Panenka attempt at West Ham, the young winger’s penalty miss has detracted from some very good displays over the last month.
Since he made his full Fulham debut in Gameweek 5, the only midfielders to attempt more shots than Lookman are Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes.
Everton’s defence has shipped an average of two goals per match in a clean sheet-less run stretching back to Gameweek 2, so Lookman has a decent shot at instant redemption when the Toffees visit west London on Sunday.
I’m not expecting much goalmouth action at Turf Moor on Monday evening, however.
Burnley are looking a bit more solid with their first-choice centre-back pairing now fit and available, although they themselves have scored only one goal in the last six Gameweeks.
Vicente Guaita is a predictable pick, then, while I’ve opted for James Tarkowski as my representative from the Burnley backline: Palace have conceded more chances from set plays than any other Premier League team this season, so the towering Clarets’ stopper may get an opportunity or two when the sides meet in Lancashire.
I’ve doubled up on West Ham United’s defence ahead of their Gameweek 9 meeting with rock-bottom Sheffield United. The Hammers secured a late 1-0 win over Fulham last time out, with Lukasz Fabianski and Aaron Cresswell playing key roles. The Poland international made three saves including a late penalty stop, while Cresswell hit the woodwork and created four chances. It’s also worth noting that the Blades have looked particularly vulnerable down their right flank this season, which adds to the Englishman’s appeal.
Crystal Palace also get a defensive double-up from me. Their opponents Burnley look devoid of ideas going forward, having found the back of the net just three times in seven matches. No team has taken fewer shots in or out of the box, either. That lack of goal threat suggests both Vicente Guaita and Patrick van Aanholt could be in the points on Monday.
For the second consecutive week, Ben Chilwell takes the top defender spot, while there is also a debut for Manchester United’s Alex Telles who could have some joy attacking West Bromwich Albion’s weaker right-side.
They’re joined at the back by Emiliano Martínez and Tariq Lamptey, the latter largely down to his attacking threat.
In midfield, despite owning Marcus Rashford in my own squad, I’ve opted for Bruno Fernandes here. The Portugal international played a direct hand in all three of Manchester United’s goals at Everton and has a combined eight goals and assists in his last six Premier League matches. Always probing and looking to make a forward pass, he looks like an ideal captain candidate this week.
Due to the uncertainty around Mohamed Salah’s availability, Sadio Mané is my Liverpool midfielder of choice, while the inclusions of Jack Grealish and Hakim Ziyech largely speak for themselves.
Rounding off the midfield is Eberechi Eze, who put in a man-of-the-match performance against Leeds United in Gameweek 8. Despite withdrawing from the England under-21 squad earlier this week, it sounds like more of a precautionary measure after feeling some muscle tightness and, providing he starts on Monday, looks like a solid differential pick.
Further forward, Timo Werner has really found his feet of late, netting four times in his last four games, with Ollie Watkins just behind on three. The Aston Villa forward has amassed 47 FPL points since making his debut in Gameweek 2 and amongst forwards ranks fifth for shots in the box and joint-second for big chances over that period.
The forward list is completed by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jamie Vardy and Patrick Bamford.
A lot has been made of Manchester United’s home form but the last three visiting teams to Old Trafford have been Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal and it doesn’t get better than West Bromwich Albion on your own turf. No defender has had more shots in the box than Harry Maguire this season and it’s impossible to not include Bruno Fernandes, who’s carried his form from last season into the current campaign and averaged 7.6 points per match so far.
Only Patrick Bamford has a higher non-penalty xG than Dominic Calvert-Lewin this season. The Everton frontman doesn’t look like letting up any time soon, especially with Fulham up next who have the third-worst xGC so far this season. Barring any further international injuries, Everton should be pretty much full strength following previous injuries and suspensions so both Lucas Digne and James Rodríguez also make my squad.
Since Ben Chilwell made his debut for Chelsea in Gameweek 4, no defender has created more chances. He’s also only second to Maguire for shots in the box in that time. With his tendency to arrive at the back post on the hunt for more goals, and with Hakim Ziyech creating plenty of chances, more goals could be coming for the England international. If Callum Wilson misses out for the Magpies, there’s a good chance of a clean sheet as well.
Since Gameweek 2, only Jamie Vardy has had more big chances than Ollie Watkins. While most of his goals have come against Liverpool and Arsenal, it’s difficult to not foresee him continuing to put chances away when he has the in-form Jack Grealish as his supply-line. Brighton’s underlying numbers for defence have looked decent but they somehow keep finding ways to concede goals, and Aston Villa will be looking for another three points here.
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 whopping 53-point winning margin in Gameweek 2 is the target to beat.
In Gameweek 8, the Scout Picks defeated THFC4LIFE by 78-65 to take a 6-2 lead over the community in 2020/21.
Our next Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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