Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur players are predictably in demand as our Scout Squad team convene ahead of Gameweek 12.
For the uninitiated, this weekly forerunner to the Scout Picks selection sees our four-man panel 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 each put forward an 18-man long-list of players and explain their notable inclusions and omissions below.
The assets 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 18:30 GMT on Friday.
In each squad, 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 also 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||Alex McCarthy||Alex McCarthy||Illan Meslier|
|Karl Darlow||Bernd Leno||Bernd Leno||Karl Darlow|
|Bernd Leno||Lukasz Fabianski||Karl Darlow||Alex McCarthy|
|DF||Andrew Robertson||Andrew Robertson||Andrew Robertson||Andrew Robertson|
|Ben Chilwell||Sergio Reguilon||Sergio Reguilón||Stuart Dallas|
|Kyle Walker-Peters||Hector Bellerin||Reece James||Sergio Reguilón|
|Ezgjan Alioski||Jannik Vestergaard||Kyle Walker-Peters||Héctor Bellerín|
|Matt Targett||Jamal Lewis||Ezgjan Alioski||Jannik Vestergaard|
|MF||Mohamed Salah||Sadio Mane||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Sadio Mané|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Christian Pulisic||Kevin De Bruyne||Son Heung-min|
|Jack Grealish||Kevin De Bruyne||Pedro Neto||Pedro Neto|
|Jack Harrison||Daniel Podence||Raphinha||Bruno Fernandes|
|FW||Harry Kane||Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy||Harry Kane|
|Timo Werner||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Patrick Bamford|
|Olivier Giroud||Patrick Bamford||Danny Ings||Jamie Vardy|
|Patrick Bamford||Callum Wilson||Patrick Bamford||Callum Wilson|
|Danny Welbeck||Danny Ings||Callum Wilson||Timo Werner|
Most popular picks: Alex McCarthy, Andrew Robertson, Son Heung-min, Harry Kane, Patrick Bamford (four), Bernd Leno, Karl Darlow, Sergio Reguilon, Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Jamie Vardy, Callum Wilson (three)
Alex McCarthy and Kyle Walker-Peters feel like routine inclusions in my Scout Squad submission this week as Southampton prepare to host Sheffield United.
The Saints have kept clean sheets in all their home meetings with sides outside the so-called ‘big six’ this season while the Blades remain the Premier League’s joint-lowest scorers, finding the net in just five matches so far.
Ben Chilwell is my first-choice defender based on his potential for a double-figure haul. Chelsea’s backline is one of the best in the division since Gameweek 8, conceding the fewest big chances of any team during that time. Meanwhile, over the same period, no defender has matched Chilwell for four shots on target.
Knowing that Marcelo Bielsa will start Ezgjan Alioski at left-back against West Ham, I fancy his chances to do well in Gameweek 12. The Hammers are joint-worst for defending the right flank over the last four matches, while the only Leeds defender to register more touches in the box over that time is Luke Ayling, who will fill in at centre-back on Friday night.
West Ham’s weakness to left-sided players means Jack Harrison gets into my Scout Squad submission once again, returning to the flanks after a stint at central midfield.
I am unconcerned by Mohamed Salah‘s 90-minute Champions League outing against Midtjylland considering the turnaround time between Liverpool’s games right now. They play Fulham later on Sunday afternoon and don’t face Spurs until the following Wednesday. A Gameweek 12 trip to Craven Cottage strikes me as the sort of fixture Jurgen Klopp will name his best team, in the hope of racing into an early lead. That way, he can manage his best players’ minutes in the second half, rather than end up like Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Manchester United side at West Ham!
Meanwhile, I think Son Heung-min is set for another strong display this weekend. He profited from Arsenal’s problem defending from the right last time out and, in Gameweek 12, the South Korean faces a Crystal Palace side that has conceded the third-highest number of chances from that side of the pitch this season. Considering Harry Kane is usually the assister, it makes sense to get him in my Scout Squad as well.
I am backing Jack Grealish and his Aston Villa colleagues to get a positive result at Wolves on Saturday, the Molineux side missing what Raúl Jiménez does both on and off the ball.
Up front, I’m going with a Chelsea double-up of Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud. I fancy the former to finally get the big double-digit haul his recent displays have promised, especially considering Everton have conceded the joint-most number of big chances over the last four matches.
I fancy Brighton to pick up a result or, at the very least, score a few goals at Leicester on Sunday evening. The Foxes’ defence since Gameweek 8 has conceded 12 big chances, the second-highest in the division over that time. During the same period, no Brighton player has registered more shots in the box or created more big chances than Danny Welbeck, who has attacking returns in each of his last three Premier League appearances.
There are compelling cases being made for Mohamed Salah both starting and not starting in Sunday’s match at Craven Cottage and it’s that uncertainty, exacerbated by the Egyptian’s extended run-out in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, that leads me to plump for the rested Sadio Mane as my safer route into the Liverpool attack this weekend.
The Senegalese winger maybe without a goal since Gameweek 5 but he is still getting into the right areas (see the Nelson Semedo own-goal last weekend) and has recorded nine shots in the box to Salah’s three over the last four Gameweeks, albeit from 51 extra minutes of pitch-time.
I’ve kept faith with Kevin De Bruyne despite his profligacy in Gameweek 11. We’re used to the Belgian chancing his arm from distance but that advanced central role he is now taking up has contributed to him being joint-top for shots in the box among FPL midfielders in the last four Gameweeks, and I’ve seen little in Manchester United’s backline to convince me that they could shut out City when the two foes meet at Old Trafford.
All four of my heavy hitters in midfield have away matches this weekend, with Palace’s well-documented vulnerability to conceding chances from their right flank serving only to rubber-stamp the Son Heung-min (and Sergio Reguilon) selection.
Also on the road is Christian Pulisic. The versatile Timo Werner is being shunted across the Chelsea frontline and could well be covering for the injured Hakim Ziyech (as happened when the Moroccan went off in Gameweek 11) on the right flank this weekend. While there were encouraging signs (apart from the finishing) from the German in that role against Leeds, Pulisic’s return to fitness, rest in midweek, capacity to drift into dangerous six-yard box positions and past streakiness when it comes to scoring goals leads me to opt for the American against one of the division’s least watertight backlines.
Sheffield United are another one of those porous sides, without a clean sheet all season, although they rarely seem to get turned over. Danny Ings just about makes the cut as a result but it’s the Blades’ woes at the other end of the field that fills me with optimism of Saints defensive double-up. Selecting Jannik Vestergaard seems like chasing points but there is some logic behind what appears to be a lazy pick on paper, as Chris Wilder’s side have allowed the most headed chances and opportunities to be created from set plays in 2020/21.
Newcastle United and Arsenal also have favourable opposition this weekend, even if those two clubs themselves are hardly firing on all cylinders.
Jamal Lewis is Newcastle’s leading chance creator and one of the cheapest starting players in FPL now, while the talismanic Callum Wilson‘s love of a winning goal – and thus bonus points – should see him in with an excellent chance of making the Scout Picks on Friday, providing the game against West Brom goes ahead.
I wouldn’t touch Arsenal’s attack with a bargepole at present but I’d be more inclined to take a gamble on one of their defenders, who had looked in good shape up until Gameweek 8.
The visit of a shot-shy Burnley ought to give the Gunners a chance to add to their clean sheet tally, while the fact that the Clarets have allowed the joint-highest number of chances to be conceded from their left side this season cements Hector Bellerin‘s place in my squad.
Alex McCarthy is my first-choice keeper for Gameweek 12.
This week’s opponents Sheffield United are struggling for goals. Their numbers suggest they haven’t been quite as bad as the league table implies, but their finishing has been awful and as a result, they’ve only scored three non-penalty goals this term.
I’ve also selected Bernd Leno, who tends to collect bonus points when Arsenal keep a clean sheet, and Karl Darlow.
At the back, Andrew Robertson is my top pick, followed closely by Sergio Reguilón and Reece James.
Son Heung-min and Harry Kane rightly took the plaudits on Sunday as they fired Tottenham Hotspur to another win, but Reguilón also impressed. Since making his debut in Gameweek 4, he’s produced attacking or defensive returns in six of his seven appearances, while James has been an important part of a solid Chelsea defence. I’m expecting him to get some joy attacking Everton’s left-side too, which has looked vulnerable in the absence of Lucas Digne.
Budget options Kyle Walker-Peters and Ezgjan Alioski (more on him later) complete the defensive picks.
Further forward, the inclusion of heavy hitters Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne and Jamie Vardy largely speak for themselves, so I’ll dedicate a bit more time to some of my other selections.
Patrick Bamford continued his excellent scoring record at Chelsea last time out, and is joined by differential Raphinha. The Brazilian has been posting good numbers since making his first start in Gameweek 9, and I’m not against an attacking double-up, given that no team has created more chances than Leeds United so far. With Robin Koch out, I do think they will concede against West Ham United and was tempted to throw Jarrod Bowen in, but settled on Alioski who will be attacking the Hammers’ weaker right flank and is worth a punt.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have looked much more potent going forward after switching to a back-four shape, and whether fielded out wide or through the middle, Pedro Neto will be key. Over the last four Gameweeks, amongst midfielders, only Bruno Fernandes has registered more shots on target.
The offensive list is completed by Danny Ings and Callum Wilson.
With no concrete news yet, we still don’t know if Newcastle United v West Brom will be on, but reports seem to indicate it’s more likely than not as things stand. Given West Brom have conceded the most goals this season it seems obvious to include Callum Wilson who is still inside the top five forwards for overall points despite missing two Gameweeks.
Tottenham Hotspur have now kept four clean sheets in a row and are starting to look like a “Jose Mourinho team”. Sergio Reguilón has been a mainstay in the back four and while his creativity has dropped in recent weeks, I can’t help but feel that’s due to the tougher opposition in Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal that Spurs have faced. Even with Wilfried Zaha back for Crystal Palace it could quite easily be five in a row by the end of Gameweek 12, with potential attacking returns as well.
Out of all forwards so far this season only Dominic Calvert-Lewin has a higher xG per 90 minutes than Patrick Bamford when you include regular starters. While the West Ham defence has been difficult to penetrate, Man United were able to do it three times, and Aston Villa could consider themselves lucky not to have scored more in Gameweek 10. Only Liverpool have had more shots in the box than Leeds this season and that’s not going to slow down this week.
Since moving to a back four in Gameweek 9, Daniel Podence has had seven shots in just 226 minutes, with six of them coming inside the box. That’s two more than Pedro Neto but Neto’s expected goal involvement is higher at 1.68 (vs 0.85) and he’s done that in just 189 minutes. With Raúl Jiménez looking to be out for a while we should see Neto’s minutes increase.
With Fulham up next for Liverpool, it’s important not to overthink too much. While some may say that Fulham have started to improve defensively, they have still conceded six goals in the last three matches, and I’m still trying to work out how Manchester City didn’t score more. I’d happily back both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané for points in this one, even after the former’s 90-minute run-out on Wednesday. Salah has the highest expected goal involvement of any midfielder this season, with Mané also in the top five.
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 11, Camzy lost out 55-58 to our selection. The Scout Picks lead the community 7-4 over the course of the season.
Our next Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.