With only two matches of Gameweek 24 to go, we’ve put together our Scout Picks ‘bus team’ ahead of Gameweek 25 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
This is a new feature we first rolled out last week and it’s essentially a first draft of our regular XI, partly in response to feedback from some users who wanted certain features or articles to be available earlier in the week.
The Scout Picks widget on the home page is generally only in use for a very short space of time (one or two days a week, at most) and becomes largely redundant once the deadline passes, so this new article strand will also hopefully give it a bit more shelf-life.
The pre-deadline picks will stay as they are and cement our weekly selection based on the Scout Squad long-list entries but this ‘bus team’ – a rather macabre term coined by the Always Cheating boys, as it’s the team you set at the start of the week in case you get hit by a bus before the deadline – will discuss the players who are likely to be in the running.
Here is our early, rambling thoughts on the runners and riders up for selection in Gameweek 25, followed by the preliminary picks themselves.
THE LIKELY LADS
There are two teams who ‘double’ in Gameweek 25, Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion, and even with various reservations about the Red Devils and the Seagulls, it’s a fair bet that at least one or two assets from each side who will find their way into our final Scout Picks.
One of David de Gea (£5.3m) and Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) will surely be between the posts, with the money on the former given that United are at home in both matches and that he is capable of compensating for clean sheet losses: he has picked up a combined total of 13 save and bonus points in Ralf Rangnick’s nine matches in charge.
If Sanchez is overlooked, then a Brighton defender comes into the thinking as a route into their backline. We probably can’t rely on Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m) for successive starts, so Marc Cucurella (£5.1m) could be a safer selection: quite creative, a bonus points magnet and not prone to injury like his fellow defender, he has a 100% appearance record since his Gameweek 4 debut. With a goal-shy, Hodgson-led Watford one of Albion’s opponents, a Brighton defender would arguably have been in the Scout Picks conversation even without a second fixture. A fit-again Lewis Dunk (£4.8m) also merits consideration.
Further forward, Bruno Fernandes (£11.7m) is surely the front-runner. Given more license to drift into more threatening central positions in Ralf Rangnick’s 4-3-3, he is the league’s leading chance creator over his last four matches.
With Burnley scoring on only three occasions in the last eight matches, there is an argument for a Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m) and Andrew Robertson (£7.1m) double-up if the budget allows. The corner-taking, free-crossing pair, responsible for 21 attacking returns this season, will be facing a Burnley outfit that has allowed more opportunties to be created from set plays per game than any other side bar Leicester.
Speaking of the Foxes, their dismal defensive displays this season sunk to new lows last weekend when they were thrased 4-1 by second-tier Nottingham Forest – a perfect match-up, you’d think, for the in-form Jarrod Bowen (£6.9m), who is on the cusp of hitting 20 attacking returns with over a third of the campaign to go.
Mohamed Salah‘s (£12.8m) three-Gameweek hiatus from the Scout Picks may be about to come to an end. The only doubt about his inclusion is for budgetary reasons, as there’s a rigid £83m cap and there often isn’t room for more than two premium midfielders/forwards.
And so, while a ‘threemium’ selection’ can’t be ruled out at this early stage, it may come down to a straight choice between Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m). About the only thing that the veteran Portuguese has in his corner is the fact that he has two fixtures to Salah’s one, with one of the Double Gameweek 25 matches against a Southampton side without a clean sheet in 12 games. Ronaldo’s minutes-per-chance average is actually better than Salah’s since Rangnick took charge but those opportunities simply haven’t been going in, and he’s evidently now a rotation risk, too.
Rotation has historically been one of the downsides to Brighton assets and while it hasn’t been as rife in 2021/22, both Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) and Neal Maupay (£6.5m) were on bench-warming duties in the Seagulls’ last Double Gameweek. Maupay is the form player if we do swallow the risks, with six returns in his last seven starts.
Line-up tinkering also burned us with Odsonne Edouard (£6.5m) in midweek, so perhaps Wilfried Zaha (£6.8m) is the safer, more sensible bet against a Brentford side with only one clean sheet to their name since Gameweek 5.
The Manchester City title procession continued with a 2-0 win over Brentford and there’s another appealing fixture on the cards this weekend, even if Norwich have tightened up a bit of late. The only issue with the trip to Carrow Road is that it falls in the middle of a Wednesday-Saturday-Tuesday trio of games, the last of which is the Champions League round-of-16 tie against Sporting Lisbon. The likes of Kyle Walker (£5.4m), who is suspended in Europe, and Ilkay Gundogan (£7.2m) could be Scout Picks candidates then, alongside the in-form Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2m).
Fresh from their double-digit hauls against Leeds, Philippe Coutinho (£7.1m) and Jacob Ramsey (£4.6m) may be in the Scout Picks running – although three goals conceded in four matches by Newcastle suggests Eddie Howe is moving the Magpies’ rearguard in the right direction. We’ll have to see if the blow Coutinho sustained to his knee on Wednesday amounts to anything, too.
And speaking of defences, the Spurs backline will have a good chance to bounce back from their 3-2 loss at Southampton with the visit of a Wolves side who have scored just eight goals in 11 matches (albeit five in their last two).
THE LONG SHOTS
Leeds, who have conceded 23 goals in eight games, this weekend meet Everton, who are without a clean sheet since Gameweek 11 and who were arguably flattered by a 3-1 defeat at Newcastle. Compatriots Raphinha (£6.6m) and Richarlison (£7.4m) could come into the reckoning, then, although it’s a bit of an unknown how Frank Lampard will set up after the midweek defeat and a tired-looking Raphinha had a real off-night against Villa on Wednesday. At the moment, the Leeds winger fits perfectly into our £83m budget as the 11th selection but there is a conversation to be had over if he stays there – and the ‘out of position’ Daniel James (£6.0m) is a cheaper alternative after his two-goal heroics at Villa Park.
After they conceded to Burnley (twice), Newcastle, Wolves, Aston Villa and Brentford in the last six Gameweeks, we’re also putting the Manchester United defensive double-up in the ‘long shot’ pile despite the appealing-looking fixtures.
Harry Kane (£12.3m) and Son Heung-min (£10.7m) have to be low down the premium priority list, too, as Wolves boast one of the meanest defencces in the division and haven’t conceded more than one goal in a match since Gameweek 11.