Double Gameweek 32 hasn’t even come to its conclusion yet but we’re already looking ahead to the next round of Premier League fixtures, with our Scout Squad panel reconvening to pick out their favoured Fantasy assets.
Less than 24 hours separate full-time in the Leicester v West Brom game and the Fantasy Premier League deadline for Blank Gameweek 33, which is at 18:30 BST on Friday.
Our panelists have a smaller pool of players to choose from this time, with four clubs – Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Southampton and Fulham – all blanking.
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 tonight.
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 Thursday evening.
|GK||Robert Sánchez||Robert Sanchez||Robert Sánchez||Emiliano Martínez|
|Sam Johnstone||Emiliano Martinez||Emiliano Martínez||Rui Patrício|
|Aaron Ramsdale||Illan Meslier||Rui Patrício||Kasper Schmeichel|
|DF||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Ricardo Pereira||Wesley Fofana||Ricardo Pereira||Luke Shaw|
|Luke Shaw||Willy Boly||Lewis Dunk||Conor Coady|
|Joel Veltman||Luke Shaw||Conor Coady||Lewis Dunk|
|Kurt Zouma||Conor Townsend||Rob Holding||Ricardo Pereira|
|MF||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Kai Havertz||Diogo Jota||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes|
|Christian Pulisic||Mason Mount||Diogo Jota||Mason Greenwood|
|Jesse Lingard||Adama Traore||Mason Mount||Diogo Jota|
|Leandro Trossard||Adam Lallana||Bukayo Saka||Bukayo Saka|
|FW||Kelechi Iheanacho||Kelechi Iheanacho||Kelechi Iheanacho||Jamie Vardy|
|Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy||Jamie Vardy||Kelechi Iheanacho|
|Chris Wood||Danny Welbeck||Danny Welbeck||Ollie Watkins|
|Matej Vydra||Richarlison||Ollie Watkins||Neal Maupay|
|Mbaye Diagne||Chris Wood||Patrick Bamford||Mbaye Diagne|
Most popular picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho (four), Robert Sanchez, Emiliano Martinez, Luke Shaw, Ricardo Pereira, Diogo Jota (three)
With a trip to Sheffield United coming up, I am looking to Brighton’s defence for Blank Gameweek 33, including Robert Sanchez and Joel Veltman.
At the time of writing, Graham Potter’s men are still in the Premier League’s top three for expected goals conceded (xGC) over their last six matches while the Blades have blanked in four of their last five league outings.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is back to his Fantasy best right now with 7.4 points per game over the last seven matches. During his last six, he is joint-top of the league for big chances created and top among defenders for key passes.
Ricardo Pereira looks likely to play an advanced role for Leicester as they host Crystal Palace while Luke Shaw is behind only Alexander-Arnold for key passes among defenders over the last six.
Mohamed Salah should start for Liverpool when they host Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime given his Double Gameweek 32 rest. He has two goals in his last three outings.
I think Chelsea will enjoy playing West Ham on Saturday if the hosts will be without Declan Rice, Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku. The suspended Craig Dawson will also be missing, potentially opening the door for Chelsea.
The Hammers have conceded 10 goals across their last four league matches while Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic have looked dangerous in the front three, with four and three attacking returns respectively across their last four.
That said, I expect Jesse Lingard to continue his scoring run considering he has still only blanked in one start since joining West Ham and is in the Premier League’s top five for shots on target over his last six matches.
Kelechi Iheanacho‘s form has been incredible, backed up by 14 shots in the box, seven big chances and 10 shots on target over his last six, figures that put him in the division’s top three for each statistic.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace have the Premier League’s third-worst xGC figure over the same period.
That’s also good news for Jamie Vardy even though he is less of a goal-scoring threat than Iheanacho these days. Still, over the last six matches, he is joint-top of the division for big chances created. Essentially, if Iheanacho is going to score, Vardy stands the best chance of being his assister right now.
I also fancy Chris Wood and Matej Vydra to get something at Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men may have back-to-back clean sheets but Burnley’s attack has been in much better form than Sheffield United and Fulham’s recently.
Wood is top of the Premier League for shots on target across his last six matches, with three goals to show for it.
Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood are among the headline omissions from my 18-man long-list this week.
This is no longer the gung-ho Leeds United team that the Red Devils thrashed in Gameweek 14, with Marcelo Bielsa’s side more controlled at both ends of the pitch and conceding at a rate of less than a goal a game over their last nine matches – and that’s despite facing Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham United in that time.
The Whites are now conceding fewer high-quality chances but still allowing their goal to be peppered with efforts from range, which is a perfect recipe for the save-accumulating Illan Meslier.
Brighton have also been impressing at the back, with only Chelsea and City recording more clean sheets in 2021.
When Sheffield United provide the opposition, it’s usually a question of which players we triple up on rather than pondering if three assets is overkill.
The Blades have stopped the flow of headed chances conceded recently, which cools my interest in Lewis Dunk, but they are still susceptible elsewhere.
The trouble with Albion’s FPL options is that they are so evenly matched: in their last half-dozen matches, six of their players have all had between eight and 10 efforts on goal.
Adam Lallana isn’t a name we hear talked about much in FPL circles these days but he is among that contingent (eight shots in the box is better than what even Danny Welbeck can offer) and has been in superb ‘real-life’ form of late, so I’m backing him to exploit Sheffield United’s soft underbelly through the middle of the park.
Another wildcard pick is Conor Townsend, who is among the top ten defenders for big chances created since Gameweek 24. Why Gameweek 24? Well, that is the point at which Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were first paired in the starting XI together. The two January window signings have made a massive difference to the Baggies and, ahead of Thursday’s game against Leicester, no side has conceded fewer Premier League goals over the last ten Gameweeks.
Ongoing concerns about Ricardo Pereira’s fitness lead me to Wesley Fofana as my Leicester pick. The young stopper has gained bonus points in four of the six matches in which he has kept a clean sheet and wasn’t too far away on the other two occasions.
Adama Traore also gets the nod and it’s not just because he has attacking returns in his last three appearances. It’s more about a tweak in position, with the flying winger now often operating more centrally alongside Willian Jose and seeing an increase in penalty box touches as a result.
This weekend, he and an admittedly limited Wolves attack face a Burnley side on the division’s longest clean sheet drought.
I’ve doubled up on Brighton and Hove Albion’s defence ahead of their Gameweek 33 meeting with Sheffield United, via Robert Sánchez and Lewis Dunk. Graham Potter’s side have now kept three clean sheets in their last four matches, while the Blades have managed just seven shots on target across the last six Gameweeks.
Wolverhampton Wanderers also get a defensive double-up from me. Against Sheffield United in Gameweek 32, Nuno Espírito Santo reverted his team back to a 3-4-3 formation, which helped shore up the defence and secure a second successive clean sheet. If they are to continue with that system on Sunday, Rui Patrício and Conor Coady could again be in the points.
However, my top defender pick this week is Trent Alexander-Arnold. In the last four matches, the 22-year-old has produced 40 FPL points, combining a goal and two assists with two clean sheets. Impressively, he has collected maximum bonus in all four of those encounters, too.
They’re joined at the back by keeper Emiliano Martínez, plus defenders Ricardo Pereira and Rob Holding.
Further forward, it’s hard to overlook Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota given their fixture, and their selections need little explanation, so I’ll focus on some of my other picks.
Ahead of Gameweek 32, I included Manchester United duo Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood in my squad. However, this time, I’m not convinced an attacking double-up will pay off. Leeds United have proved tough to break down at Elland Road in recent matches, and in their last six home games have let in just three goals. That improved defensive form has coincided with some good performances by Diego Llorente, who is developing into a quality centre-back.
Meanwhile, both of Leicester City’s forwards also get the nod. Kelechi Iheanacho scored his 15th goal of the season last weekend, with the in-form Nigeria striker set up by Jamie Vardy. And though the latter is experiencing a cold streak, with just one goal since the turn of the year, he has been unfortunate not to return more, with a -3.13 expected goals (xG) delta during that period.
The list is completed by Mason Mount, who should be deployed further forward against West Ham United, Bukayo Saka, plus forwards Danny Welbeck, Ollie Watkins and Patrick Bamford.
Sheffield United continue to be the worst defence in the league, conceding 13.50 expected goals (xG) in the last six matches. In that same time, Neal Maupay has had seven shots in the box and created eight chances, more than fellow forward Danny Welbeck.
If we’re going down the ‘on the beach’ narrative then Crystal Palace will be one of the first teams on the list. Already on 38 points, there’s very little to play for, and they have a defence that has been leaky all season. Kelechi Iheanacho is currently recording 0.77 expected goal involvements (xGI) per 90 minutes over the last six matches. While Jamie Vardy is still behind that, I’m backing him to get back to scoring ways this week after having three big chances in the last six.
Only João Cancelo has a higher xGI (0.28) per 90 minutes than Trent Alexander-Arnold (0.26) among FPL defenders. The Liverpool right-back has only scored less than eight points twice over the last seven matches, and Newcastle United is the perfect fixture to keep that run going.
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