We’ve put together our Scout Picks ‘bus team’ ahead of Gameweek 35 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
This is a new feature we first rolled out in February and it’s essentially a rough, first draft of our regular XI, which gets finalised and published much closer to the deadline.
Those final picks will stay as they are and cement our weekly selection based on the Scout Squad long-list entries, midweek minutes and fresh injury updates but this ‘bus team’ – a term coined by the Always Cheating boys – will discuss the players who are likely to be in the running.
Here it is, then: our early thoughts on the runners and riders up for selection in Gameweek 35, followed by the preliminary picks themselves.
THE LIKELY LADS
There will inevitably be considerable representation from the top two – Manchester City and Liverpool – in Gameweek 35. Four names from those sides feature in our Scout Picks bus team but more/others could follow, with midweek minutes, injuries and press conference quotes set to be deciding factors when we finalise our selection on Friday.
The main nagging doubt regarding City and Liverpool is that they are both in Champions League action either side of Gameweek 35, so there is the very real potential for some minute management on Saturday.
Tuesday 26 April: Champions League semi-finals – Real Madrid (h)
Saturday 30 April: Gameweek 35 – Leeds United (a)
Wednesday 4 May: Champions League semi-finals – Real Madrid (a)
Sunday 8 April: Gameweek 36 – Newcastle United (a)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (a) still doesn’t have a new date but will fall in Gameweek 36 or 37
Wednesday 27 April: Champions League semi-finals – Villarreal (h)
Saturday 30 April: Gameweek 35 – Newcastle United (a)
Tuesday 3 May: Champions League semi-finals – Villarreal (a)
Saturday 7 April: Gameweek 36 – Tottenham Hotspur (h)
Tuesday 10 May: Gameweek 36 – Aston Villa (a)
For now, we’ve opted for Joao Cancelo (£7.1m) – who is banned for Tuesday’s Champions League first-leg, raising the likelihood of a start in Gameweek 35, plus Phil Foden (£7.8m), Andrew Robertson (£7.3m) and Mohamed Salah (£13.2m).
However, with the acknowledgment that the above could come into play, those selections may change come Friday, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), Raheem Sterling (£10.5m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m), Gabriel Jesus (£8.4m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.4m) and Diogo Jota (£8.3m) strong alternatives should we need to.
Tottenham Hotspur are in a mini-slump, having failed to score or even register a single shot on target in their last two matches, but a home tie against a Leicester City side who have Europa League semi-finals either side has the potential to be a high-scoring affair.
Harry Kane (£12.5m) and Son Heung-min (£11.0m) are leading the charge, with Dejan Kulusesvki (£6.4m) certainly an option if we need to make a saving in Friday’s Scout Picks: since the latter made his full debut in Gameweek 26, the trio rank first (Son), second (Kane) and fourth (Kulusevski) for FPL points.
Arsenal attacking representation also looks on the cards, given West Ham United’s mounting problems at the back: Craig Dawson (£4.9m) is suspended while Kurt Zouma (£5.4m), Issa Diop (£4.2m) and Angelo Ogbonna (£4.9m) will all miss out through injury.
The penalty-taking Bukayo Saka (£6.8m) is the obvious route into a Gunners attack that has racked up seven goals in their last two outings. That’s providing he gets over his ‘knock’, of course, with Martin Odegaard (£5.6m), Emile Smith Rowe (£5.7m) and Eddie Nketiah (£5.5m) possible shouts if he were to miss out.
Can we say anyone else is assured of their place in the Scout Picks at this point, however? Probably not – although there are multiple names competing for our nomination.
It’s a fair bet to assume that some Aston Villa coverage will work their way into the Scout Picks. Steven Gerrard’s side have been too inconsistent since his arrival, but should see spirits lifted after the 0-0 draw away to Leicester City.
Of Villa’s defensive options, Matthew Cash (£5.2m) carries the most potential, having chipped in with two goals and three assists under Gerrard, who always allows his full-backs plenty of freedom to get forward in the final-third.
Villa have scored just one goal from open-play in their last four outings, but their opponents Norwich City have shipped plenty of late, with Philippe Coutinho (£7.0m) and Ollie Watkins (£7.4m) the key targets in the attacking spots.
Coutinho has racked up 41 points via three goals and three assists on home turf, compared to just 25 on the road. This also feels like a match in which he could thrive, with Villa expected to have plenty of the ball high up the pitch. However, if he does perform at his best, it’s highly likely that Watkins will be on the receiving end of those chances created, so there are compelling arguments for both in Gameweek 35.
Reece James (£6.4m) missed Chelsea’s narrow win over West Ham on Sunday, with Thomas Tuchel confirming that he had felt some discomfort in his hamstrings. The German coach did, however, say that it is not a reoccurrence of the injury that kept him out of action for the early part of 2022, and that it was a precautionary measure. His fitness will need to be monitored week-to-week, then, as will the recent positional switch which has seen him line up as a right-sided centre-half.
As a result, the cheaper Marcos Alonso (£5.5m) is probably the pick of the Blues defenders right now, although a trip to Goodison Park and an Everton side in desperate need of points may see us look elsewhere, especially given the appealing alternative options on offer.
Staying with the London side, Mason Mount (£7.7m), Kai Havertz (£7.9m) and Timo Werner’s (£8.7m) inclusion isn’t out of the question, but midweek minutes – plus their respective performances – will need to be monitored first.
Mid-price midfielders like Wilfried Zaha (£6.8m), James Ward-Prowse (£6.4m) and Ismaila Sarr (£5.7m) are potential inclusions, while there is no shortage of budget candidates at the back, with Ben Davies (£4.4m), Emerson Royal (£4.5m), Ben White (£4.6m), Nuno Tavares (£4.3m) and Connor Roberts (£4.4m) amongst those likely to be under consideration in our midweek Scout Squad selections.
From the ‘keepers, Nick Pope (£5.4m), Aaron Ramsdale (£5.1m) and Robert Sanchez (4.6m) look to be the front runners, with the former currently installed as our number one. Mike Jackson deserves a lot of credit for taking seven points from his three games as Burnley’ s caretaker boss, which has included successive clean sheets against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton. A trip to Watford looks pretty appealing, too, given that Roy Hodgson’s side have managed just three goals in their last six matches.
Also, a quick word on Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.2m). Despite some dismal Man Utd defensive performances of late, the Portuguese has continued to return, with seven goals in his last four Premier League appearances. A home tie against Brentford certainly isn’t straightforward, as highlighted by Spurs’ struggles at the weekend, but his name certainly deserves a mention, with penalty-taking duties surely restored after Bruno Fernandes’ (£11.6m) miss at the Emirates.
THE LONG SHOTS
If we do decide to add one or two additional forwards into the mix, there are a handful of possible mid-price options up top, all of whom carry some potential.
It’ll be a tough ask for any of Ivan Toney (£6.9m), Che Adams (£6.7m), Wout Weghorst (£6.4m), Teemu Pukki (£6.0m), Emmanuel Dennis (£5.8m) and Jean-Philippe Mateta (£5.3m) to force their way past others in Gameweek 35, but they could perhaps become possible shouts.
Toney is the man in form, with six goals and two assists in his last seven outings. He was desperately unlucky not to find the net against Spurs, and now faces a United side who have looked particularly vulnerable at the back of late, conceding a combined nine goals to Arsenal, Liverpool and Norwich.
GAMEWEEK 35 BUS TEAM
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