The best Fantasy Premier League (FPL) goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards for Gameweek 35 are debated by our regular panel.
ABOUT THE SCOUT SQUAD
In this series, Fantasy Football Scout contributors Sam, Neale, Tom and Az each propose an 18-man squad of Fantasy players with the focus solely on the upcoming Gameweek.
Their selections serve as a long list for the Scout Picks, as the players nominated will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83.5m) for our final 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 PICK OF THE BEST FPL PLAYERS FOR GAMEWEEK 35
|GK||Robert Sanchez||Jose Sa||Nick Pope||Robert Sanchez|
|Emi Martinez||Robert Sanchez||Robert Sanchez||Vicente Guaita|
|Vicente Guaita||Nick Pope||Aaron Ramsdale||Jose Sa|
|DEF||Matthew Cash||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo|
|Joao Cancelo||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Matthew Cash|
|Marcos Alonso||Matthew Cash||Matthew Cash||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Emerson Royal||Connor Roberts||Marcos Alonso||Connor Roberts|
|Connor Roberts||James Tarkowski||Connor Roberts||Eric Dier|
|MID||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Son Heung-min||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Kevin De Bruyne||Bukayo Saka|
|Jacob Ramsey||Philippe Coutinho||Philippe Coutinho||Philippe Coutinho|
|Bukayo Saka||Christian Eriksen||Dwight McNeil||Bryan Mbeumo|
|FWD||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Ollie Watkins||Cristiano Ronaldo||Wout Weghorst|
|Wout Weghorst||Timo Werner||Ollie Watkins||Eddie Nketiah|
|Emmanuel Dennis||Ivan Toney||Eddie Nketiah||Ollie Watkins|
|Ollie Watkins||Eddie Nketiah||Ivan Toney||Richarlison|
Most popular picks: Robert Sanchez, Connor Roberts, Joao Cancelo, Matthew Cash, Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane, Ollie Watkins (four), Trent Alexander-Arnold, Son Heung-min, Philippe Coutinho, Eddie Nketiah (three)
Still licking my wounds from a disastrous Free Hit, picking a selection that will fare well in Gameweek 35 is filling me with fear.
Luckily, there are some standout fixtures that make this a bit easier.
I’ll start with Aston Villa’s home game against Norwich. It looks like a great time to snap up Villa assets, with the game against the league’s worst side immediately followed by back-to-back Double Gameweeks. The stats suggest that investment in Villa’s defence may be the most shrewd of moves. Over the season they rank fifth for minutes per non-penalty expected goals conceded (NPxGC, 73.0) and over the last six, this average has even improved. This propels Matthew Cash to the top of both my Scout Squad selection, and my own wishlist for my FPL team.
Elsewhere, I like the look of Tottenham Hotspur against a Leicester side who will surely once again rotate after their European semi-final first leg. From an attacking sense, over the last six Gameweeks, Leicester are ranked bottom of all teams for minutes per non-penalty expected goal (NPxG 100.4), implying that the heavy rotation is having a negative impact on their ability to create chances. Despite a couple of poor results, Spurs are ranked third across all teams for the same metric, creating an NPxG every 45.9 minutes. I think this is the perfect game for the Lilywhites to get back on track, with the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min sure to be involved.
Manchester City play Leeds in a match which will perhaps be less of a spectacle than we might have seen when Marcelo Bielsa was in charge of the home side. Jesse Marsch is likely to set up to frustrate City, and their impressive defensive numbers since he took over hint at a change of style. However, the reigning champions have the bit between their teeth at the moment, and Kevin De Bruyne – with his five attacking returns in his last four starts – looks an explosive differential option for anyone chasing mini-leagues or a higher-placed finish in the overall rankings.
There are some really interesting dynamics at play in Gameweek 35, with some teams enjoying great fixtures and there being a huge potential for rotation as a result of European football.
Man City’s close result against Real Madrid makes the Pep roulette even riskier in Gameweek 35. Joao Cancelo was suspended for the Champions League match in midweek and should therefore be a fairly secure starter but beyond that there is much uncertainty. Kevin De Bruyne was, at least, subbed early in Gameweek 34, so I think he is the best midfield pick at City. The Belgian is top for attacking returns (five) for midfielders in the last four matches and is also second only to Mohamed Salah for expected assists (xA) in the same period. His tally of 15 chances created is four more than the next best midfielder.
Leicester and West Ham will also likely be impacted by European football. They will both have one eye on the second leg of their ties in the Europa Conference and Europa League respectively. The Foxes face Tottenham Hotspur in Gameweek 35 and Spurs’ Son Heung-min and Harry Kane both have an excellent record against the Foxes: Kane has returned in seven of the last eight Premier League fixtures he has started against Leicester, averaging 12.2 points per match. Likewise, Son has returned in four of his last five matches against the Foxes.
I have picked three Aston Villa assets this week after the Villans broke their losing streak in Gameweek 34 with the draw against Leicester. Matthew Cash has the most attacking potential from Villa’s defensive assets, having returned two goals and three assists under Steven Gerrard. Cash has put in 56 crosses since Gameweek 12 and is tied ninth among all defenders for chances created (19). He also ranks fourth for threat amongst defenders in the influence, creativity and threat (ICT) index. Midfielder Philippe Coutinho has returned 41 points from three goals and three assists since arriving at Aston Villa, placing him joint-fifth across all midfielders for attacking returns since his Gameweek 22 debut. The Brazilian is also fifth for midfield goal attempts in the same period, with more than the likes of De Bruyne. Finally, Ollie Watkins could prove to be a wise investment ahead of the match against Norwich.
With Manchester United struggling for form and with key players missing through injury, I also fancy Christian Eriksen as a great differential in Gameweek 35. Eriksen had three goal attempts in Gameweek 34, more than the whole Spurs team combined, and his total of four chances created was also tied top for midfielders in Gameweek 34. He has had 13 goal attempts in his last six matches, which is 11th across all midfielders in the game and more than the likes of Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Harvey Barnes and Jarrod Bowen have managed. Eriksen has also taken 12 corners in this period, which is more than any other player in his Fantasy position, and he is tied top for attempts from set pieces – meaning he has myriad routes to points. His four big chances created over the same timeframe can’t be bettered by any other midfielder, either.
A number of Manchester City players have claims for inclusion this weekend but with game-time perhaps not assured for the likes of Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez, attacking representation is limited to Kevin De Bruyne. Given his current form, I’d be surprised if Pep chooses to bench him, despite that pivotal Champions League clash in Madrid just a few days later. Leeds tend to give up most of their chances in wide areas under Marsch, but predicting who starts in those positions isn’t straightforward, and the playmaker will surely be the one feeding them regardless. De Bruyne is joined by the rested Joao Cancelo, who has registered more shots than any other defender this season.
Those rotation concerns are also applicable at Liverpool, who face a tighter turnaround (Wed/Sat early kick-off/Tue) than City. However, a bit like De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah is surely too important to rest given the magnitude of the tie. Newcastle’s 2022 form – only Liverpool have taken more points – also suggests Klopp won’t be taking this one lightly. Trent Alexander-Arnold is my second pick from the Reds, although I’d be equally comfortable including Andrew Robertson, given the £1.1m saving, plus the fact he has outscored every other defender in FPL by at least 16 points since the turn of the year.
I’ve also doubled up on Spurs and Arsenal in my selections, given that both of their opponents (Leicester and West Ham) are in European action either side of Gameweek 35. That suggests plenty of rotation and tired legs too, which I’m hopeful the likes of Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Eddie Nketiah will be able to capitalise on. The latter carries a bit of risk but has performed well since coming into Mikel Arteta’s XI, and was only denied his third goal in two games after VAR intervention last weekend. With just one goal in their last three outings for West Ham, I’m also happy to include Aaron Ramsdale, despite a recent dip in form.
With so many appealing premiums, I’ve opted for triple-ups at Aston Villa and Burnley, both of whom have decent budget/mid-price options on offer.
Villa aren’t in a great moment and have actually failed to score from open play since Gameweek 29, but a visit from Norwich could be just the tonic. Gerrard’s troops have generally performed well at home against bottom-half sides, too, at least from an attacking perspective. Southampton, for example, were dispatched 4-0 in March, which followed a memorable 3-3 draw with Leeds a few weeks earlier. If Villa are to step up, you’d expect Philippe Coutinho and Ollie Watkins to be involved, while the Canaries’ weaker left flank is a key reason behind the Matthew Cash pick.
The Clarets, meanwhile, face a struggling Watford side, and have been in fine form under interim coach Mike Jackson. There have been notable improvements all over the pitch, but none more so than Dwight McNeil, who has been allowed more of a free role.
Thursday night European sideshows very likely mean that West Ham United and Leicester City will rotate heavily this weekend, raising interest in players from opponents Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
It’s important not to inflate expectations too much, though: a much-changed Hammers side were more than a match for Chelsea last weekend, while Leicester have conceded only 1.15 goals per game over their last 13 fixtures, regardless of who has been in their back four.
Still, you’d rather Harry Kane was facing Caglar Soyuncu than Jonny Evans, and you’d probably prefer that your Gunners assets had to encounter Mark Noble rather than Declan Rice – if those team selections transpire, of course.
Kane hauled in the reverse fixture of Sunday’s match (which was, coincidentally, the last time that Leicester conceded more than two goals in a game), making it six returns in four meetings with a Foxes side managed by Rodgers. I can’t imagine Leicester going toe to toe with the Lilywhites in an attacking sense, particularly after their manager highlighted the “lack of energy” last weekend, so it could be a game for the guile of Kane rather than the dynamic, behind-the-last-man skillset of Son Heung-min – not that I think the South Korea international is a bad pick this weekend in the slightest and were it not for the plethora of alternatives in the middle of the park, he’d have made my own Scout Squad list. Eric Dier also makes a rare Scout Squad appearance as he comes up against the Foxes’ second-string attack and, given the visitors’ vulnerability at set plays, he might also be able to connect with a Son delivery at the other end of the pitch.
Who is in the midfield mix, then? There are no surprises that Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne make an appearance, while Bukayo Saka is included on the off-chance that he is fit this weekend. It’s not West Ham’s European commitments so much as they have no centre-backs available, with Craig Dawson’s suspension compounding the injury crisis at the rear. A subdued Philippe Coutinho meanwhile is backed for the visit of the division’s worst defence: he has blanked five games in a row but Villa have been so poor against sides in the upper echelons this season and now the fixtures are about to turn for the better. He averages almost three times as many shots in the box against bottom-half sides as he does versus those ranked 10th or higher.
The token budget midfield spot goes to Bryan Mbeumo. We Fantasy managers have overlooked Brentford recently due to their lack of ‘doubles’ but they’re on a stupendous run of results, losing only one of their last seven league fixtures. Manchester United, on the other hand, are plumbing new depths. The underlying figures don’t hint at a vulnerability but I’m going full-on eye test here as anyone watching Alex Telles recently will tell you that he’s been turning in some abysmal displays, and I fancy Mbeumo – who can’t be beaten by any midfielder for goal attempts in his last six matches – to get the better of him if he’s fielded down the right flank again, as he has been recently in Thomas Frank’s 4-3-3.
Watford are not only bottom for both goals conceded and goals scored in their last six matches but they have also allowed more chances to be created from their left flank than any other club – so current Burnley right-back incumbent Connor Roberts is given the nod alongside Wout Weghorst, whose shot and chances created counts have been much improved since Mike Jackson assumed control.
Talking of sides who struggle to score goals, Wolves v Brighton seems like a bottom-of-the-Match-of-the-Day-running-order game if ever I’ve seen one. The hosts being without the creative Ruben Neves and Daniel Podence solidifies my selection of Robert Sanchez as first-choice goalkeeper, while the return of Yves Bissouma from suspension should also help firm up a rear that impressed so much in north London recently.
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