Double Gameweek 26 may not yet be over but the Scout Squad panel are already looking ahead to the weekend’s fixtures.
This is the fourth Double Gameweek in a row for Fantasy managers but with only Manchester City and an out-of-form Southampton playing twice, there is an ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ feel to it.
Predictably, all four of our regulars have gone for City triple-ups – but each panelist has opted for a unique combination of players from Pep Guardiola’s side.
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 FPL deadline at 11:00 GMT on Saturday.
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||Ederson||Ederson||Emiliano Martínez||Fraser Forster|
|Sam Johnstone||Sam Johnstone||Sam Johnstone||Emiliano Martínez|
|Fraser Forster||Fraser Forster||Bernd Leno||Sam Johnstone|
|DF||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||João Cancelo||Ruben Dias|
|João Cancelo||Ruben Dias||Andrew Robertson||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Serge Aurier||Serge Aurier||Sergio Reguilón||Sergio Reguilón|
|Ainsley Maitland-Niles||Lewis Dunk||Ainsley Maitland-Niles||Jannik Vestergaard|
|Antonio Rüdiger||Antonio Rudiger||Jannik Vestergaard||Ainsley Maitland-Niles|
|MF||İlkay Gündoğan||İlkay Gündoğan||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Sadio Mane||Jesse Lingard||İlkay Gündoğan||İlkay Gündoğan|
|Jesse Lingard||Gareth Bale||Sadio Mané||Son Heung-min|
|Gareth Bale||Pedro Neto||Son Heung-min||Mohamed Salah|
|Curtis Jones||Curtis Jones||Jesse Lingard||Jesse Lingard|
|FW||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Ollie Watkins||Michail Antonio||Danny Ings||Danny Ings|
|Michail Antonio||Ollie Watkins||Michail Antonio||Michail Antonio|
|Mbaye Diagne||Mbaye Diagne||Mbaye Diagne||Mbaye Diagne|
|Patrick Bamford||Kelechi Iheanacho||Ollie Watkins||Ollie Watkins|
Most popular picks: Sam Johnstone, Jesse Lingard, Ilkay Gundogan, Harry Kane, Ollie Watkins, Mbaye Diagne, Michail Antonio (four), Fraser Forster, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (three)
Ederson and João Cancelo are my picks from the Manchester City defence in Double Gameweek 27.
The goalkeeper is always nailed-on to start while Cancelo’s rest against West Ham stands him in good stead for significant minutes in each of the next two.
Manchester United have orchestrated 0-0 draws in five of their last six matches against the so-called ‘big six’ while Southampton are joint-bottom for goals scored over their last six matches (four).
Trent Alexander-Arnold continues to slowly claw his way back onto the Fantasy radar having created three big chances across his last six (at the time of writing). Only three players have fashioned more of these chances over the same period while Liverpool’s Gameweek 27 opponents Fulham have blanked in five of their last nine Premier League outings.
Crystal Palace are arguably in worse offensive form, with just one goal in their last five matches, which bodes well for the Spurs defence on Sunday evening. Serge Aurier is my chosen option.
The out-of-position Ainsley Maitland-Niles could enjoy his Gameweek 27 meeting with Newcastle. West Bromwich Albion have clean sheets in each of their last two matches while the Magpies will be without both Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almirón until April.
I’ve gone with Sadio Mané over Mohamed Salah for Liverpool’s meeting with Fulham. In the last six matches, they have both produced the same number of shots in the box but the Senegalese international has offered more assist potential, with 16 key passes to Salah’s four.
Jesse Lingard is joint-top of the Premier League for shots on target over the last four matches, while Michail Antonio ranks second for big chances. That’s why I’m backing both against Leeds.
Harry Kane and Gareth Bale could enjoy a hatful of chances when they face Crystal Palace. The Eagles are the third-worst side for expected goals conceded (xGC) over the last six matches.
Three Gameweek 26 fixtures are still to be played at the time of writing and I may be taking the eraser to some of my above picks after the completion of Thursday’s matches.
Harry Kane is the only ‘nailed’ selection in my Spurs triple-up, for example, and I’ll wait to see what team Jose Mourinho puts out against Fulham, and how many minutes his star performers rack up, before finalising the other two.
I’d love to be able to select Serge Aurier and Gareth Bale without fear of a benching, as Crystal Palace have allowed the most chances to be conceded from their left flank when clubs are filtered by their last six matches. Bale’s superb showing against Burnley whetted my appetite further and the prospect of him coming up against Patrick van Aanholt is an appealing one — but doubts of course remain over whether his body is up to the rigours of three games in a week.
There is similar uncertainty about Curtis Jones, with Liverpool entertaining Chelsea on Thursday and the youngster an obvious rotation risk.
Much has been made of Jurgen Klopp’s recent formation tweak and its repercussions for Sadio Mane (more central), Mohamed Salah (wider) and their two full-backs but there has perhaps been less talk over the benefit to Jones, who was as advanced as any of the above players in an inside-forward role and who topped the shot count against Sheffield United.
On the subject of efforts on goal, Kelechi Iheanacho has been outshooting Jamie Vardy by seven attempts to one since the pair hooked up as a strike pairing at the start of Gameweek 26. A swift James Maddison comeback would perhaps jeopardise his chances of starting this weekend but, should the England international remain out, then there is little competition for Iheanacho’s place when Leicester visit Brighton.
The Seagulls have been racking up some seriously good underlying defensive numbers of late and the strong odds are that it’ll be a low-scoring game at the Amex, so I’m hedging my bets with a Lewis Dunk pick. Given Leicester’s propensity for conceding goals from set plays, the Albion stopper could prosper at both ends of the field.
The visit of a defensively unpredictable Leeds side – a respectable eight clean sheets is offset by the Whites shipping 2.4 goals per match in which they do concede – warrants a West Ham double-up in the dangerous Michail Antonio and the hugely impressive Jesse Lingard.
One of the few midfielders who can better Lingard for attempts on goal since his January move to east London, Pedro Neto, also gets the nod as an improved Wolves prepare to face an Aston Villa side struggling for consistency this year. Add in the fact that Neto looks set to be up against Ahmed Elmohamady, who drifted off to allow David McGoldrick to score on Wednesday, and the young Portuguese schemer could enjoy his afternoon in the West Midlands.
Finally, onto my City triple-up. Ruben Dias‘ track record as the surest starter in Pep Guardiola’s defence results in his selection over the more exciting Joao Cancelo, while I’m hoping the fact that Ilkay Gundogan has just had a breather in midweek counts in his favour in Gameweek 27.
Such is the uncertainty elsewhere, I’ve also plumped for Ederson. Assured of two starts, the Brazilian will likely have a ceiling of 12 points given that the solid backline in front him rarely allows him be kept busy. But, after the events of Double Gameweek 26, how many of us would take that score right now for any of our City assets?
Manchester City have now won their last 21 games in all competitions and though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which of their outfield assets will be handed successive starts in Gameweek 27, tripling-up is a no-brainer. To be honest, I don’t think there are many ‘bad’ City picks this week, but I’ve opted for João Cancelo, plus midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and İlkay Gündoğan.
Since returning from injury, De Bruyne hasn’t found his top level but still produced a superb assist against West Ham United and went close to scoring in midweek. With his ability to create chances out of nothing, he’s the standout captaincy option in my opinion. However, Gündoğan isn’t far behind, and encouragingly does seem to be getting into the box just as much when paired with the Belgian.
Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion are now unbeaten in three matches and look a good team for bargain hunting this week. Their opponents, Newcastle United, will be without Callum Wilson, Miguel Almirón and Allan Saint-Maximin, and it’s hard to see where they will find a goal. That leads me to a defensive double-up via Sam Johnstone and the out-of-position Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who really should have scored last weekend. I’ve also found a spot for Mbaye Diagne who is just ahead of Ollie Watkins, though there isn’t much to choose between them.
Tottenham Hotspur also supply three picks: Sergio Reguilón, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane. Against Burnley, Jose Mourinho adopted a more expansive approach with attacking full-backs. That enabled Son to operate in more central areas, and if they do employ a similar tactic this weekend, they will surely have too much for Crystal Palace. It’s a shame we can only select three Spurs players really, as I also like Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura as differentials.
Elsewhere, Liverpool got back on track against Sheffield United last time out, which coincided with them using a different shape in attack. In possession, it was a 2-3-5, with Andrew Robertson mostly playing as a winger and attacking the space vacated by Sadio Mané, who would often drift infield. If that system is to continue, I expect both of the above to be the main beneficiaries in FPL.
Emiliano Martínez is again the key goalkeeper to own, with Bernd Leno, West Ham United duo Jesse Lingard and Michail Antonio, plus Double Gameweekers Jannik Vestergaard and Danny Ings rounding off the picks.
Even with a Double Gameweek as underwhelming as Gameweek 27 might be, I find it impossible not to max out on players from Manchester City and Southampton.
Fraser Forster starting against Everton is promising for anyone who’s had him rotting away on their bench. The ideal situation would be a clean sheet against goal-shy Sheffield United, followed by lots of saves against Man City. If I had him, I think I’d be starting him.
With the Manchester City defence, I’m starting to lose confidence in guaranteed starts in John Stones and while I think João Cancelo is probably going to keep starting more often than not, I’ve gone with the safety of Rúben Dias instead.
I’ve also backed the double City attack with both Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gündogan. There is some risk in De Bruyne starting both games but we’ve seen plenty of times in the past that when he’s fit, he’s one of the first names on the teamsheet. I know people don’t rate him as an option this season but his expected goal involvement is 0.68 per 90 minutes this season, not far behind Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes, who are both at 0.73. If those numbers start producing points it could be a good time to be ahead of the game, especially in a Double Gameweek where there’s a chance he plays twice.
Over the last four matches, no player has a higher expected goal involvement than Michail Antonio (3.59). Despite their great league position, Leeds United are still a team I would target for returns: only West Brom (47.58) having a worse expected goals conceded than the Whites (41.36) over the season.
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