The best Fantasy Premier League (FPL) goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards for Gameweek 12 are discussed and debated by Fantasy Football Scout contributors Az, Sam, Neale and Tom.
For those new to this feature, it’s a weekly piece that always takes the form of a ‘Free Hit’-type selection for the upcoming Gameweek.
All of our panelists propose an 18-man long-list of Fantasy players, explaining their notable inclusions and omissions in the article below.
The Scout Squad also serves as a precursor to the Scout Picks, as the players listed will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83.0m) for final our weekly selection ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
Each writer must meet the following requirements:
- At least one goalkeeper costing £5.0m or less
- At least one sub-£5.0m defender
- At least one midfielder listed at £6.5m or below
- At least one forward priced at £7.0m or lower
- No more than three players from the same club
SCOUT SQUAD’S PICKS OF THE BEST FPL PLAYERS FOR GAMEWEEK 12
|GK||Alex McCarthy||Vicente Guaita||Alex McCarthy||Vicente Guaita|
|Vicente Guaita||Alex McCarthy||Vicente Guaita||Edouard Mendy|
|Jason Steele||David de Gea||Emiliano Martinez||David de Gea|
|DEF||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Joao Cancelo|
|Reece James||Tino Livramento||Reece James||Tino Livramento|
|Emerson Royal||Emerson Royal||Sergio Reguilon||Sergio Reguilon|
|Tino Livramento||Ben Chilwell||Tino Livramento||Matthew Cash|
|MID||Phil Foden||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Mohamed Salah||Son Heung-Min||Phil Foden||Bruno Fernandes|
|Son Heung-min||Conor Gallagher||Son Heung-min||Phil Foden|
|Conor Gallagher||Phil Foden||Bryan Mbeumo||Bryan Mbeumo|
|Raphinha||Emiliano Buendia||Conor Gallagher||Jarrod Bowen|
|FWD||Cristiano Ronaldo||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Che Adams||Cristiano Ronaldo||Cristiano Ronaldo||Callum Wilson|
|Michail Antonio||Callum Wilson||Callum Wilson||Harry Kane|
|Ivan Toney||Christian Benteke||Ivan Toney||Christian Benteke|
|Callum Wilson||Michail Antonio||Adam Armstrong||Michail Antonio|
Most popular picks: Vicente Guaita, Joao Cancelo, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Tino Livramento, Mohamed Salah, Phil Foden, Cristiano Ronaldo, Callum Wilson (four), Alex McCarthy, Son Heung-min, Conor Gallagher, Harry Kane, Michail Antonio (three)
Big at the back continues to look a viable option, and I do think we might see one of Emerson Royal or Sergio Regulion come into our thinking as Antonio Conte will look to shore up the Spurs defence. Not only that, but with a real absence of creativity in the team, the wing-backs will be vital in getting service to both Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. A switch to four at the back looks a very viable tactic for those looking for something a bit different.
In midfield, I can’t remember the last time I put Mohamed Salah anywhere but first on my list, but I am expecting Arsenal to put up a real fight against Liverpool who may be without some key players in Sadio Mané and Andrew Robertson. Aaron Ramsdale is second to only Edouard Mendy for expected goals prevented (xGP) through his saves this season and will be vital if Arsenal have any hope against the Reds.
Phil Foden does to me look a very viable alternative captaincy pick this week against a beleagured Everton side. Only four players have a better expected goal involvement (xGI) figure than Foden over the last four Gameweeks, and Everton rank as one of the worst teams for expected goals conceded (xGC) during this period (7.07).
In my own team, I’ll likely be banking on a Cristiano Ronaldo captaincy doing the business against Watford. The Hornets have been appalling defensively, with only their opponents ranking worse than them for goals and xGC over the last four Gameweeks. Ronaldo historically eats teams like Watford for breakfast: 19 of his 29 goals last season came against teams in the bottom 10 and over his career, he averages 72 minutes per goal contribution against this type of opposition. For me, he has both the highest ‘ceiling’ and highest ‘floor’ this week. I could go for Kane, but seeing as he doesn’t even make my shortlist, I’ll definitely be avoiding!
With three new managers in the division this weekend, we could be in for some interesting results. I am expecting Newcastle to start well under Eddie Howe and for Callum Wilson, back with a manager who he has worked with before, to hit the ground running. Since the injury to David Raya, Brentford have struggled not just in defence but also going forward, as they are not playing out from the back as successfully. With no clean sheets in the last six Gameweeks for the Bees and Wilson averaging 4.54 points per match against newly promoted teams, he could do well this weekend.
Emiliano Beundia could also be just what Steven Gerrard is looking for at Villa. Buendia naturally drifts into more central areas from the right and therefore he seems perfect for both FPL managers and Gerrard’s managerial style, against a Brighton team missing first choice keeper Robert Sanchez.
Whilst it is not Antonio Conte’s first game in charge of Tottenham Hotspur, it is his first Premier League home game in the Spurs hotseat. Leeds United have only kept one clean sheet so far this season and the Lilywhites’ attacking options have performed well over the international break, with Harry Kane registering seven goals for England and Son Heung-min converting a penalty for South Korea. Investing in the Spurs attack seems sensible, then, but their defensive options look promising, too. In the continued absence of Patrick Bamford, Leeds have been scoring fewer goals than we are used to. Emerson Royal could be an excellent differential option: in the last four Gameweeks, he has registered 100 touches in the final third – only the attacking wing-backs from Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have managed more than the Spurs man.
On the back of an impressive international debut for Conor Gallagher, where only the post denied him a goal, he continues to look an excellent option. Gallagher was one of Gameweek 11’s highest-scoring players and in the last four Gameweeks he has created 10 chances for his Palace teammates, a tally beaten only by four other midfielders.
Alex McCarthy is my first-choice keeper for Gameweek 12. Southampton have tightened up since conceding two at St James’ Park back in August, keeping five clean sheets in their next eight matches, while this weekend’s opponents Norwich City are struggling in the final-third. The numbers suggest they haven’t been quite as bad as the goals scored column indicates, but their finishing has been poor, and as a result, they have only managed three non-penalty goals all season. With the Canaries particularly weak down their left-side, Tino Livramento also gets called up as my sub-£5.0m defender.
I’ve also selected Vicente Guaita in goal, with Crystal Palace ranked second for expected goals conceded (xGC) despite a tough opening schedule, and Emiliano Martinez. At the back, Joao Cancelo is my top pick, followed closely by Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Sergio Reguilon. Notably, Cancelo’s 26 shots across the opening 11 rounds is at least six more than any of his team-mates, while Reguilon is an intriguing pick based on Antonio Conte’s history with attacking wing-backs. Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses and Achraf Hakimi have all thrived under the Italian tactician’s leadership, with the latter supplying seven goals and 10 assists in their title-winning campaign.
Further forward, the inclusion of heavy hitters Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo, plus Tottenham Hotspur duo Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, largely speak for themselves, so I’ll dedicate a bit of time to some of my other selections.
Since his return to Manchester City’s starting XI in Gameweek 6, Phil Foden has produced five attacking returns and posted team-leading totals for shots in the box, big chances, penalty box touches and crosses. Added to that, this weekend’s opponents Everton have conceded 13 big chances over the last four Gameweeks, more than any other side, and will again be without the influential Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Elsewhere, I’m keeping faith with Brentford duo Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney, given that Newcastle United have failed to keep a single clean sheet all season and are the only team yet to win. However, I’m predicting an open game, and have therefore included Callum Wilson too, who should relish linking up with former boss Eddie Howe.
The offensive list is completed by Conor Gallagher, with opponents Burnley conceding more shots in the box than any other side over the last four Gameweeks, and Adam Armstrong, who is starting to pick up some form with a goal and assist in his previous two outings.
The introduction of three new or returning head coaches into the mix for Gameweek 12 means there is a bit of trepidation surrounding the matches at Aston Villa, Newcastle and Norwich, as away fixtures for Brighton, Brentford and Southampton perhaps now don’t look as appealing as they did when that trio of out-of-form clubs were toiling under their previous managers.
Indeed, the scales appears to have tipped in the Magpies’ favour with the injury-hit Bees on a losing run and shipping five goals to Burnley and Norwich. Callum Wilson, who has an eye-catching 22 attacking returns in 33 appearances for a frankly average Newcastle side, consequently gets the nod but it’s important not to overlook the fact that the north-east outfit are themselves without a clean sheet in 2021/22. Eddie Howe’s pledge of front-foot, attacking football and poor defensive record at Bournemouth does give a bit of hope that xG darlings Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney can belatedly deliver on their promising underlying numbers; if not, the FPL exodus will intensify.
The absurdly consistent Tino Livramento still gets a vote despite the threat of a ‘new manager bounce’ at Carrow Road as Dean Smith would seem unlikely to solve Norwich City’s attacking deficiencies in just two days of training. Ralph Hasenhuttl got the better of Smith just two weeks ago, of course, and the Canaries’ left-back area has been a problem all season.
It’s hasty to expect too much change at Villa, too, but Steven Gerrard’s Rangers were a tough defensive nut to crack and their full-backs were a huge part of their attacking play. Matthew Cash looks a good fit for Gerrard’s set-up: the Villa right-back has had more penalty-box touches than any other FPL defender this season and will be up against a Brighton side who have actually scored fewer goals than all bar Norwich over the last six Gameweeks, with a limp showing against a porous Newcastle side still fresh in the memory from a fortnight ago.
We’ve also got a sort-of-new head coach in charge at Spurs. While there is much hope in the FPL world that Harry Kane and Son Heung-min can be reignited under Antonio Conte, the Italian’s 3-4-3/3-5-2 formation also raises expectations for the wing-backs. Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal both got forward plenty against Everton in Gameweek 11, with my vote going for the Spaniard following those comments about “more goals and assists”.
Elsewhere, I’ve gone with Vicente Guaita as my top goalkeeper selection. Palace’s impressive underlying defensive numbers are discussed elsewhere in this piece but their possession-based approach also boosts the bonus points (BPS) potential of their backline, while Guaita will also surely benefit from BPS-increasing ‘recoveries’ this weekend as he is forced to deal with Burnley’s aerial bombardment. Edouard Mendy is my slightly curveball route into the Chelsea defence, meanwhile: I expect Leicester to give him plenty of work on Saturday lunchtime, with save points again elevating what was once thought to be a six-point ceiling for the Senegal international.
Going back to Palace, I’ve plumped for Christian Benteke in attack. Burnley, surprisingly given their long-ball reputation, have allowed more opportunities to be created from set plays than any other side this season, with only Leicester conceding more headed chances. The towering Benteke has attempted more headed efforts than any other FPL forward in 2021/22, scoring twice in his last three starts.
The fact that I have reservations about including Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes for a clash with a poor Watford side says much about how far Manchester United have fallen recently but these two are potentially explosive differentials in Gameweek 12. Fernandes, in fact, has created 11 more chances than any other FPL midfielder in 2021/22; while he’s not worth the outlay long-term based on his output in the post-Ronaldo era, on any given Gameweek he remains capable of producing one of his much-missed hauls.
There’s a double-up in midfield and attack with free-scoring West Ham, too, as Jarrod Bowen joins Michail Antonio in my long-list pool. Over the last six Gameweeks, Bowen is pretty much identical to the Hammers’ forward for penalty box touches, goal attempts, shots in the box and big chances.
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