The Scout Squad panel reconvenes to champion the best players for Gameweek 28, which is the first ‘non-double’ Gameweek in over a month.
Only three Fantasy assets get unanimous backing this week, which is a reflection of the tough-to-call nature of the fixtures.
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 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||Ederson||Emiliano Martinez||Jordan Pickford||Emiliano Martínez|
|Edouard Mendy||Vicente Guaita||Emiliano Martínez||Sam Johnstone|
|Alphonse Areola||Jordan Pickford||Sam Johnstone||Jordan Pickford|
|DF||Lucas Digne||Lucas Digne||Lucas Digne||Rúben Dias|
|Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo||João Cancelo||Lucas Digne|
|Ainsley Maitland-Niles||Ricardo Pereira||Luke Shaw||Luke Shaw|
|Cesar Azpilicueta||Cesar Azpilicueta||Antonio Rüdiger||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Joel Veltman||Kyle Bartley||Ainsley Maitland-Niles||Daniel Amartey|
|MF||Gareth Bale||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes|
|Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Gareth Bale||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Son Heung-min||Mason Mount||Son Heung-min||Gareth Bale|
|Mason Mount||Pedro Neto||Mason Mount||Mason Mount|
|Pedro Neto||Anwar El Ghazi||Youri Tielemans||Bertrand Traoré|
|FW||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Timo Werner|
|Gabriel Jesus||Richarlison||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Harry Kane|
|Richarlison||Timo Werner||Ollie Watkins||Richarlison|
|Ollie Watkins||Kelechi Iheanacho||Mbaye Diagne||Ollie Watkins|
|Mbaye Diagne||Mbaye Diagne||Kelechi Iheanacho||Jamie Vardy|
Most popular picks: Lucas Digne, Mason Mount, Harry Kane (four), Emiliano Martínez, Jordan Pickford, Joao Cancelo, Bruno Fernandes, Gareth Bale, Richarlison, Ollie Watkins, Mbaye Diagne (three)
I trust Manchester City’s defence more than I trust their attack in Gameweek 28. That’s largely on account of Alphonse Areola‘s form of late, with Fulham conceding just one goal or fewer every match from Gameweek 23 onwards.
The Citizens’ own backline remains the most productive this season while Fulham have blanked in two of their last three outings; hence the inclusion of Ederson and Ruben Dias.
Lucas Digne looks a good shout for Gameweek 28 considering Burnley’s own troubles in front of goal this season, especially on the road. Only Sheffield United (six) have scored fewer away goals than the Clarets (eight) thus far while Gylfi Sigurdsson is the only Everton player to have created more chances than Digne over the last four.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles continues to operate in a midfield role and ranks second among West Bromwich Albion players for touches in the final third over the last four matches. During that same period, the Baggies have three clean sheets and Crystal Palace have blanked twice.
Finally, Joel Veltman is top among all defenders for expected goal involvement over the last four matches, a period in which Southampton have netted three goals and failed to score on two occasions.
Gareth Bale is looking like an increasingly viable asset, even if Jose Mourinho is going to manage his minutes. The Welshman has produced two double-figure hauls in the last three and is already forming an effective partnership with Harry Kane, who sits top of the league for shots in the box and second for shots on target among all players during their last four outings.
Over the same period, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is second only to Kane for minutes per expected goal involvement (xGI).
Richarlison looks set to benefit from Burnley’s recent struggles. The Clarets have the third-worst expected goals conceded (xGC) over the last four matches while Everton’s Brazilian forward is top among his colleagues for shots in the box, big chances and shots on target.
With this entry being written on Thursday morning, there are some selections that make the cut based on midweek breathers (Joao Cancelo, Mason Mount) and others (Gareth Bale) whose inclusion may well hinge on how many minutes they are afforded in the UEFA Europa League.
Form is even more paramount than usual in this week of middling fixtures.
Cesar Azpilicueta has that in spades, as he averages 6.7 points per match since Thomas Tuchel was made manager. He’s the only Chelsea player who hasn’t had a benching since Tuchel took over and while that could well mean a breather is just around the corner, he is trusted implicitly by the German and reportedly accompanies his boss to meetings with match officials. On top of significant clean sheet potential, he has supplied 11 chances from centre-back since the change in head coach, evoking memories of his time under Antonio Conte.
Azpilicueta’s teammate Mason Mount sits in the top ten midfielders for shots and chances created since Tuchel’s appointment, so offers all-round appeal further forward.
Pedro Neto has been posting near-identical figures to Mount in terms of goal threat and assist potential from Gameweek 20 onwards, so I’ve included the Wolves man against a Liverpool defence that still has plenty of questions to answer on the domestic front.
Anwar El Ghazi is expected back from injury for the trip to Newcastle, who have conceded more chances from their right flank than any other club in their last six matches. With Jack Grealish still sidelined, the left-wing berth should be El Ghazi’s to reclaim. A trigger-happy winger whose radar is sometimes a bit misaligned, El Ghazi has the best minutes-per-shot average of any FPL midfielder who has made more than two starts this season.
Leicester City aren’t in great shape but, on paper, they have the best fixture of the weekend – Sheffield United at home. The ‘out of position’ potential of Ricardo Pereira keeps me interested in the Portuguese full-back despite poor recent returns, while I’ve opted for Kelechi Iheanacho over Jamie Vardy in attack. Those two forwards have started the last three matches together, with Iheanacho outperforming his strike partner by two goals to nil and by nine shots to two.
Finally, I can see little in the way of goalmouth action at Selhurst Park this weekend, so Kyle Bartley gets the nod as my budget defender pick,. The Baggies are in decent defensive nick and the Palace backline has allowed more headed attempts and set-piece chances than any other club in their last six matches, so Bartley – who has three goals to his name already this season – could prosper at both ends of the pitch.
I’ve doubled up on Everton’s defence this week ahead of Saturday’s home game against Burnley. Carlo Ancelotti’s side have given up just two goals in their last four and prior to Monday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge had kept three consecutive clean sheets. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has put in some quality displays of late, and I’m expecting Lucas Digne to take control of his flank and collect points at both ends of the pitch.
West Bromwich Albion also get a defensive double-up from me, via Sam Johnstone and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The Baggies have proved difficult to break down in recent matches and take on a Crystal Palace side who often struggle in front of goal. It’s another relegation six-pointer, which is why I’ve also included Mbaye Diagne, who is getting chances but must improve his conversion rate.
Rounding off the backline is goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, who continues his quest for the Golden Glove at Newcastle United, plus defenders João Cancelo, Luke Shaw and Antonio Rüdiger.
Further forward, Bruno Fernandes, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane’s inclusion needs little explanation, so I’ll focus on some of my other picks.
While the emergence of Kai Havertz is exciting, Mason Mount feels like the safer midfield option having been handed a break on Monday night. The England international has established himself as a key player under Thomas Tuchel and should return to the starting XI at Leeds United, a match I see him thriving in.
Meanwhile, Manchester City saw their 21-game winning streak end last weekend, with Kevin De Bruyne uncharacteristically misplacing several passes. However, his creativity numbers on the day suggest he was unfortunate not to return as he ended the match as his team’s biggest expected goal involvement (xGI) underachiever. Sure enough, he was back among the points in midweek.
For a team missing some of their biggest attacking threats, I thought Leicester City did okay at Brighton and Hove Albion in Gameweek 27. Jamie Vardy has scored just once in his last 11 league games but Kelechi Iheanacho is now producing the goals to fill the void, and has probably shown enough to keep his place. Youri Tielemans has been doing a lot of good work in the final third too, and as I’m expecting a routine home win, an attacking double-up feels fine.
The forward line is completed by Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins.
I’ve not yet completely given up on Liverpool. Although their defence has been breachable recently, they are playing a Wolves side in the bottom five for shots in the box over the last six matches. In that same time, Trent Alexander-Arnold has created 13 chances and had nine shots.
I’m willing to take a risk on Gareth Bale this week. I still have some doubts about his starts, and we can see that his minutes are being managed, but he’s doing a lot of good stuff with the game-time he is getting. Since Gameweek 24, when he came back into the side for 18 minutes against Man City, he’s had seven shots in the box in just 271 minutes. That’s four more than Son Heung-min has had in 450 minutes. Son is the safer play, but Bale looks better for goals at the moment.
It feels wrong to back against Dominic Calvert-Lewin given the season he’s had but it’s difficult to look past Richarlison’s recent numbers. Between Gameweeks 25-27, he’s had eight shots in the box compared to Calvert-Lewin’s four (in 57 fewer minutes). He’s also doubled his total number of shots (10 v 5). It does feel like more of a Calvert-Lewin game but we know that Carlo Ancelotti has come out and said he’s sacrificed his position in favour of Richarlison, which is why I’ve backed him.
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