Leeds United assets are in demand as we approach Gameweek 25, with players from Marcelo Bielsa’s squad unsurprisingly popular choices among our Scout Squad selection as they prepare for their double-header against Wolves and Southampton.
Saints also have two fixtures in the coming Gameweek but there is a little bit more caution from our Scout Squad panel regarding Ralph Hasenhuttl’s outfit, who are on a six-game losing run in the Premier League.
Manchester United’s two creators-in-chief are high on the Gameweek 25 shopping lists of our regulars, while Brighton’s players also get a look-in.
For those new to this feature, 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 £83.0m) for the weekly Scout Picks selection ahead of the earlier-than-usual FPL deadline at 18:30 GMT on Friday.
In each writer’s 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||Robert Sánchez||Nick Pope||Robert Sánchez||Nick Pope|
|Nick Pope||Robert Sanchez||Nick Pope||Robert Sánchez|
|Alex McCarthy||Alphonse Areola||Alphonse Areola||Alphonse Areola|
|DEF||Stuart Dallas||Luke Shaw||Stuart Dallas||Stuart Dallas|
|Luke Shaw||Lewis Dunk||Luke Shaw||Luke Shaw|
|João Cancelo||John Stones||João Cancelo||Lewis Dunk|
|Lewis Dunk||Stuart Dallas||Lewis Dunk||John Stones|
|Ola Aina||Charlie Taylor||Jannik Vestergaard||Charlie Taylor|
|Mohamed Salah||Raphinha||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes|
|Bruno Fernandes||Phil Foden||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Pedro Neto||Ilkay Gündogan||Pedro Neto|
|Takumi Minamino||Pascal Gross||James Ward-Prowse||Kevin De Bruyne|
|FWD||Patrick Bamford||Patrick Bamford||Patrick Bamford||Patrick Bamford|
|Danny Ings||Danny Ings||Danny Ings||Danny Ings|
|Timo Werner||Edinson Cavani||Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy|
|Harry Kane||Josh Maja||Harry Kane||Timo Werner|
|Ollie Watkins||Timo Werner||Michail Antonio||Harry Kane|
Most popular picks: Robert Sanchez, Nick Pope, Stuart Dallas, Lewis Dunk, Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes, Raphinha, Danny Ings, Patrick Bamford (four), Alphonse Areola, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Timo Werner (three)
It’s about time we considered Brighton defenders after five clean sheets in their last six matches.
The Seagulls face a Crystal Palace side still without a Premier League goal in the absence of Wilfried Zaha this season, which is why I’ve doubled-up on budget goalkeeper Robert Sánchez and Lewis Dunk.
With two fixtures in Double Gameweek 25, I have gone with Stuart Dallas as my Leeds defender. A recent stint in central midfield means he has the best figure for minutes per expected goal involvement (xGI) of any defensive colleague over the last four matches.
Luke Shaw has been the most creative defender over the same period, playing 13 key passes. That’s at least five more than any other asset in the same position and has led to four assists.
Meanwhile, Ola Aina has produced a goal and assist in his last two Premier League outings and faces the lowest-scorers in Sheffield United on Saturday evening. Fulham also have two clean sheets in their last three.
Ahead of two matches in Double Gameweek 25, Raphinha has been an incredibly reliable Fantasy asset of late, registering two goals and four assists since Gameweek 20, putting up 7.6 points per game in that time.
No player has registered more shots on target than Mohamed Salah in the last four matches, so I fancy him to do well against Everton, who have conceded at least twice in each of their last three matches.
Bruno Fernandes is level with the Egyptian for his total of shots on target (joint-best in the league) over the last four matches and faces a Newcastle outfit who have conceded twice or more in six of their last seven.
Kevin De Bruyne made his return from injury as a substitute in Manchester City’s win at Everton. With important games coming up soon, Pep Guardiola may want to get him back up to full speed as quickly as possible so a start against Arsenal hardly feels out of the question.
Meanwhile, Takumi Minamino is my Southampton differential for their Double Gameweek. While Danny Ings is the more reliable shooter, the Liverpool loanee has outperformed him for minutes per shot over their last four matches.
Patrick Bamford is an obvious inclusion, not just because his effective ownership is going to be massive this weekend. Only two Premier League players have shot more often in the box over their last four matches, while nobody has registered more efforts on target during that time.
I am expecting more points from Timo Werner against Southampton now that Thomas Tuchel is getting the best out of him on the left-hand side of a 3-4-3 formation. The Saints are the third-worst for conceding chances on the right-hand side of the pitch over the last four while Werner is joint-second among all players for big chances in that time.
I expect there’ll be a widespread consensus with the Leeds triple-up this week, given the drip-feed of returns provided by Patrick Bamford and Raphinha over the last few months and the ‘out of position’ threat offered by Stuart Dallas.
And it’s the expected absence of another Leeds player, midfield lynchpin Kalvin Phillips, that solidifies my sole Southampton representative of Danny Ings in attack.
So with state-the-bleeding-obvious selections abounding for my ‘doublers’, I’ll instead justify some of the single-Gameweek picks in my long-list.
Brighton’s backline has garnered well-deserved praise over the last six Gameweeks but it’s Crystal Palace’s defensive weaknesses that interest me ahead of the M23 Derby.
The Zaha-less Eagles have conceded the highest number of headed opportunities and chances from set plays when clubs are filtered by their last six matches, so dead-ball deliverer Pascal Gross – top among midfielders for key passes in his last half-dozen run-outs – and the towering Lewis Dunk make the cut alongside Robert Sanchez.
I’d be content with any one (or more) of Burnley’s backline ahead of the visit of West Brom, with Ben Mee’s return only serving to make the Clarets’ defence more appealing.
Along with Nick Pope, I’ve gone with Charlie Taylor – right-back has been a problem position for West Brom before and since the appointment of Sam Allardyce and there’s no surprise that the Baggies have conceded the joint-highest number of chances from their right flank over their last six.
Southampton have their own issues in the same area with Kyle Walker-Peters out, so an ever-so-slightly improved Timo Werner, whose goal drought finally ended in Gameweek 24, could make hay when Chelsea visit the south coast this weekend. The German is top for big chances among FPL forwards since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment, so let’s see if the pressure has eased enough for him to convert a few more of those gilt-edged opportunities following that goal against Newcastle.
And sticking with full-back weaknesses and finishing neatly where we started, Marcelo Bielsa’s tinkering in Phillips’ absence led to midfielder Jamie Shackleton being deployed in the right-back position against Arsenal. While there’s no guarantee that the same experiment will happen at Molineux, Pedro Neto‘s ability to conjure up a piece of magic and Leeds’ vulnerability without the Yorkshire Pirlo (13 goals conceded in their last four without Phillips) sees the Wolves winger enter my thinking.
I’ve doubled up on Brighton and Hove Albion’s defence ahead of their Gameweek 25 meeting with Crystal Palace. Albion have now kept five clean sheets in six league outings, conceding just a single goal in that run, with Robert Sánchez and Lewis Dunk playing key roles. That defensive solidity, combined with the latter’s aerial ability from set-pieces, make them excellent picks.
I also like Stuart Dallas and Jannik Vestergaard, who both play twice and carry enough attacking threat to warrant inclusion. Since the end of January, Dallas has been deployed further up the pitch and has responded with a goal and assist in his last four starts, while Vestergaard’s height advantage over most opponents ensures he is often the target of James Ward-Prowse’s set-pieces.
Meanwhile, Luke Shaw could deliver at both ends of the pitch against Newcastle United. Over the last four Gameweeks, which has coincided with the Magpies’ switching to a diamond formation, they have allowed more crosses from their right-flank than any other side. Given how effective the full-back is from that area of the pitch, he could be set to profit.
Keepers Nick Pope and Alphonse Areola, plus João Cancelo, whose creativity when stepping into midfield could be crucial against Arsenal, complete the picks at the back.
Further forward, the inclusion of Bruno Fernandes, Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane largely speak for themselves, so I’ll dedicate a bit more time to some of my other selections.
Raphinha has arguably been Leeds United’s best player since the turn of the year, and has now produced attacking returns in five successive matches. Despite that consistency he is still a huge differential, and if you haven’t already, now could be the ideal time to bring him in. It also makes sense to include team-mate Patrick Bamford, who is the second-highest scoring forward in the game, with the Southampton match looking particularly appealing for him.
I’m also backing İlkay Gündoğan, who is expected to return to the starting XI after missing out last night. The 30-year-old has scored 11 goals in 12 Premier League games since mid-December, and now playing closer to the box provides huge value at just £6.1m.
The list is completed by forwards Danny Ings and Michail Antonio, providing he is fit.
Another Double Gameweek means more Double Gameweek picks and triple Leeds looks a must this week. I even think there’s a chance for Stuart Dallas to get a clean sheet with both Wolves and Southampton averaging just 0.99 expected goals per game this season. Leeds do their best to concede chances in any match, but one clean sheet and the thought of potential attacking returns is enough to make him my number one pick.
Timo Werner is really in as a “this could be the start of something” selection. He has a manager who’s now played him for the last four Gameweeks and is perhaps showing the confidence in him that he needs. We know what a threat he can be, and he’s up against a Southampton team that I wouldn’t trust for clean sheets. In fact, they haven’t recorded a shut-out in the last six league matches.
Despite FPL managers worrying about Liverpool’s results, Mohamed Salah is still producing great underlying numbers: he had 15 shots in the box and an expected goal involvement of 3.90 over the last six matches. He faces an Everton team that over the same time period have conceded 9.44 expected goals, only second to Southampton.
Elsewhere, Danny Ings gets in as my “I don’t really trust the rest of Southampton” pick. If I could guarantee that Nathan Redmond will start up front again I’d look at him, but I think Ings is about as nailed as you’re going to get and is the biggest threat for Southampton in front of goal.
With Chelsea conceding the second-fewest expected goals so far this season I’m not expecting a huge amount from that game, but Leeds are known for conceding chances so there is every chance that Ings can get a haul across both games. As noted above, the defensive numbers don’t look great for Southampton, hence ignoring any defenders.
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