Is Son Heung-min (£11.0m) fixture-proof? Are Chelsea players worth the risk despite the likelihood of minute management? And which Manchester City options stand the best chance of playing twice?
There are dilemmas to be discussed across the park as the best Fantasy Premier League (FPL) goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards for Gameweek 36 are debated by our regular panel.
It’s the biggest Double Gameweek of the season and despite the dozens upon dozens of assets up for consideration, eight players get universal support from our four-strong team.
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 36
|GK||Kasper Schmeichel||Kasper Schmeichel||Jordan Pickford||Kasper Schmeichel|
|Edouard Mendy||Edouard Mendy||Kasper Schmeichel||Ederson|
|Jordan Pickford||Jordan Pickford||Ben Foster||Ben Foster|
|DEF||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Joel Matip||Andrew Robertson||Aymeric Laporte||Joel Matip|
|Marcos Alonso||Reece James||Reece James||Marcos Alonso|
|Vitalii Mykolenko||Tyrone Mings||Ben White||Yerry Mina|
|MID||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Son Heung-min||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Son Heung-min|
|Bukayo Saka||Mason Mount||Bukayo Saka||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Son Heung-min||Diogo Jota||Bukayo Saka|
|Dejan Kulusevski||Anthony Gordon||Anthony Gordon||Anthony Gordon|
|Harry Kane||Ollie Watkins||Richarlison||Eddie Nketiah|
|Eddie Nketiah||Gabriel Jesus||Teemu Pukki||Harry Kane|
|Ollie Watkins||Harry Kane||Eddie Nketiah||Ollie Watkins|
|Teemu Pukki||Eddie Nketiah||Danny Ings||Ivan Toney|
Most popular picks: Kasper Schmeichel, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo, Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Richarlison, Harry Kane, Eddie Nketiah (four), Jordan Pickford, Son Heung-min, Bukayo Saka, Anthony Gordon, Ollie Watkins (three)
Make no mistake about it, Gameweek 36 is season-defining. However with great potential rewards comes great potential risks, with many of the top teams likely to be affected by severe rotation. Liverpool and Chelsea play their second game just days before their FA Cup final, while Man City will be licking their wounds after a gruelling 120 minutes against Real Madrid. Knowing exactly who will line up for these sides is a bit of a lottery, and so my picks have shown some caution with their assets.
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur provide the more “settled” sides, and I’ve opted for two attackers from each club, and no defenders, in line with my lack of faith in the Gunners defensively and Spurs’ difficult games against sides both inside the top four. Expected minutes for the likes of Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Eddie Nketiah are high – and these safer options present interesting counter-captaincy options to the likes of Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne, who may see their minutes managed in the Double Gameweek.
The only team I’ve selected three players from, incredibly, is Everton, who are on the road twice but who have the worst away record in the league. Interest in the likes of Richarlison and Anthony Gordon is high, and for those like myself not on a Free Hit, back-to-back Double Gameweeks mean that these players will be on the top of many people’s shopping lists. For me, Richarlison is the best option. He ranks 11th of all players in terms of minutes per non-penalty xG over the last five Gameweeks and his minutes-per-shot average is only bettered by three Liverpool attackers. We expect him to play despite an early substitution against Chelsea (attributed to cramp by Frank Lampard) and his flare-throwing incident, and he likely carries the hopes of Everton’s survival on his shoulders.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold getting a rest last week, surely it’s time for Andrew Robertson to have his – most likely against Aston Villa – so Joel Matip, who is spared UEFA Champions League and FA Cup games, looks a great option for this Double Gameweek. I expect Alexander-Arnold and Joao Cancelo to play both fixtures, and it would take someone brave to go into this double without them: both players rank in the top seven defenders for minutes per non-penalty xG over the last six matches and indeed over the season, so attacking contributions to partner with defensive returns looks likely.
Finally, if you’re looking for a punt and/or a budget defender, Vitalii Mykolenko may be an intriguing option. Playing at wing-back against Chelsea in Gameweek 35, he squandered a great chance to add to his side’s lead. His best bet of defensive returns comes against Leicester, who will be off the back of yet another European night and will likely heavily rotate. Over the last six matches, the Foxes have the worst minutes-per-xG average of all clubs, and a minutes-per-big-chance mean of 270 is absolutely shocking, highlighting their current inability to make things happen in the crucial part of the pitch.
Whilst there are some good fixtures for single Gameweek teams such as West Ham United and Crystal Palace, exploiting the clubs playing twice is too much of a temptation in this the biggest Double Gameweek of the season. Therefore, all my selections this week have two fixtures in the upcoming round of matches.
With Leicester still to play the all-important second leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final, it is difficult to make cast-iron guarantees about minutes accrued by their assets. However, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel‘s position is secure. The Foxes sit top of the Fantasy Football Scout ticker for ease of fixture in the Double Gameweek and Schmeichel should have a good opportunity to return clean sheet points, with the visit of the two sides with the worst away records in the division.
In defence, the Liverpool double-up seems wise. Trent Alexnader-Arnold has returned in four of the five fixtures he has played against Aston Villa in the league and in those games averages 6.4 points per match. He has also delivered the goods in both of his last two meetings with Spurs in the Premier League, banking a goal and two assists across these matches. Andrew Robertson, meanwhile, has returned 33 points in the last six Gameweeks and with the exception of Marcos Alonso, is rated as the most in-form defender in the game on the Official FPL app.
Alongside the Liverpool double-up, Joao Cancelo looks vital for the Double Gameweek. As is the case with the Reds, both the Double Gameweek 36 matches are must-win for Man City. Cancelo has returned in six of his last eight Premier League appearances and in Gameweek 35 he had more touches in the opponent’s half than any other outfield player (wasting one big chance), so he still poses some threat from right-back even with the consensus opinion being that he’s more dangerous on the opposite flank.
Chelsea’s defence has been shaky in recent weeks but with two nice fixtures, there should be some potential for clean sheets. If Reece James plays at wing-back he is, in my opinion, the best pick in the Chelsea backline – but there is a considerable risk that he plays at centre-half if Thomas Tuchel manages his workload ahead of the FA Cup final and therefore the trigger-happy Alonso could turn out to be a better option.
In midfield, Kevin De Bruyne seems the safest bet after coming off early in the Champions League semi-final and having been benched in Gameweek 35. De Bruyne has returned 56 points in his last six matches in the Premier League. His total of eight attacking returns between Gameweeks 28 and 35 is also more than any other midfielder and he is top across the Man City team for expected goal involvement (xGI) in this period.
Mohamed Salah’s form hasn’t been as good as in the earlier parts of the season but with Liverpool riding the crest of a wave from the Champions League semi-final and knowing that they need to win every game to be in with a chance of securing the title, he seems an important pick. Unlike Salah, Son Heung-min’s form has been outstanding. The Spurs midfielder has two difficult matches against Liverpool and Arsenal but only Bukayo Saka has a better xG and xGI tally in the last six Gameweeks than Son. What’s more, the Korean’s tally of 73 points is top for midfielders in this period and is 32 more than second-placed Saka!
Anthony Gordon was top for xG underachievers in Gameweek 35 with 0.89, and with Everton needing to win games to secure their Premier League status, he’ll be important to whether their survival push is successful. Gordon is also top across the Everton team for expected assists (xA) in the last six Gameweeks.
As always, the forwards are a tougher pick. With Dominic Calvert-Lewin still working his way back to full match fitness, Richarlison will likely play a central role in any goals that Everton score. The forward has returned in four of the last six Premier League matches and is top across the Everton team for both xG and xGI in the last six Gameweeks. In that time, he has had 23 goal attempts, which is again a team-leading total.
Ollie Watkins returned nine points in Gameweek 35 and has scored nine goals so far this season, the most across the Villa team. This is also a number that only six forwards in the game can better. His tally of 67 goal attempts is also fifth-highest amongst all the forwards in the game.
With Man City having gone to extra time in the Champions League, Gabriel Jesus being subbed on 78 minutes offers FPL managers a bit of hope regarding game-time across Gameweek 36. Jesus has registered 42 points in the last four Gameweeks, which included a 24-point haul in Gameweek 34. Two of Jesus’ biggest FPL scores have come against Wolves in 2018 and 2020, where he returned 13 points, and he has also returned in each of his last three matches in the league against Newcastle, banking 18 points in the process.
Double Gameweek players unsurprisingly make up my entire 18-man squad this time, with triple-ups at title challengers Liverpool and Manchester City.
The inclusion of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah is a no-brainer, but the third spot isn’t quite so simple. Is Andrew Robertson due a rest after racking up six successive starts in two-and-a-half weeks? Perhaps, which is why I’ve landed on Diogo Jota, who may actually benefit from not being in Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice XI at Villa Park, given the timing of the FA Cup final just a few days later.
At Man City, with so much uncertainty in the attacking positions after last night’s collapse in Madrid, I’ve sided with a defensive double-up, via Joao Cancelo and Aymeric Laporte. Pep Guardiola’s side kept clean sheets in the reverse fixtures against Newcastle and Wolves earlier in the season, with the latter failing to score in each of their last three outings. Kevin De Bruyne is included, too, providing his withdrawal at the Bernabeu wasn’t injury-related.
I’ve also picked three players from Everton, despite a dismal run of away results. Yerry Mina’s return will tighten up the backline, but even if they do concede, only three other ‘keepers have managed more saves on the road than Jordan Pickford this term. Further forward, I see Anthony Gordon getting plenty of joy against Watford’s weaker left flank – they rank bottom for chances conceded from that zone in 2022 – while Richarlison has really stepped up of late, producing five attacking returns in his last six appearances.
The omission of Son Heung-min certainly isn’t ideal, but in a Scout Picks XI, where does he fit in with so many other appealing midfielders on offer? Dejan Kulusevski is a cheaper alternative, but a trip to Anfield plus a match against north London rivals Arsenal – who could be five points ahead in the top four race come Thursday – suggests it might be better to look elsewhere in midfield this week.
Elsewhere, it’s unlikely we’ll see two starts for Reece James, but he is more than capable of hauling in 90 minutes against either opponent, while Danny Ings’ impact off the bench in Gameweek 35 suggests he is due a start at Burnley. His overall campaign has been a bit underwhelming, but two goals and four assists in his last six appearances is more encouraging, especially given the number of chances missed against Spurs a few weeks back.
What a wealth of options we have at our disposal for the biggest Double Gameweek of the season – or do we? As someone who put all of his eggs in the late-season chip basket, there are too many caveats for my liking ahead of Saturday’s deadline. Cup competitions either side of Gameweek 36 are a distraction for Leicester, West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool, while we’ve got Manchester City going into Sunday’s match against Newcastle off the back of a psychologically and physically draining last-gasp defeat in Spain. Then there’s Norwich and Watford: will they be liberated or deflated by their drop to the second tier (it’s only a matter of time in the Hornets’ case)? Add in Everton’s dismal away record and some tricky match-ups for Spurs… could still be fun, though.
I think what we’re seeing already, despite the theoretical manifold player choices at our fingertips, is a fairly solid core template forming for Gameweek 36. Gameweek 37 instead looks to be the one where scores diverge, with Free Hitters punting on differentials like Wilfried Zaha and tripling up on Villa.
Many of us will be going heavy on Liverpool and Manchester City this week and I’m no different with this long-list. Most of the selections are self-explanatory but one or two might require clarification: Joel Matip, on a run of 19 league starts without a benching and handed breathers in the cups, gets the nod over a decidedly unrested Andrew Robertson, while Ederson looks like 12 points in the bag from where I’m sitting. I’ve plumped for the Brazilian over Aymeric Laporte after the centre-half was spotted fidgeting with his groin in Madrid but hopefully Pep Guardiola will tell us on Friday that it was just some mid-game furniture rearrangement.
I’ve kept faith with Marcos Alonso despite there being a decent chance of him sitting out the Leeds game, which precedes the cup final at Wembley by a few days. The Spaniard has had an improbable 14 shots and created as many chances in his last five appearances, so could easily haul against a wilting Wolves side who were abysmal at both ends of the pitch last weekend.
We can’t be 100% sure about game-time for Eddie Nketiah yet, either, although it’s increasingly looking likely that he will keep an underused Alexandre Lacazette out of the side this weekend after a lively (if profligate) display against West Ham. It’s the Leeds game you really want him for, with anything in the north London derby being a bonus, and given the drivel elsewhere at this price point, he’s a low-cost gamble worth taking.
Everton’s away form is a concern as they get set for two games on the road but they’ll surely not get a better chance to remedy their travel sickness with matches against a distracted Leicester and a potentially relegated Watford. Those two teams have been susceptible at set plays recently, while the Hornets have also been conceding chances for fun down their left flank – so Anthony Gordon looks like the pick of the bargain-bin midfield bunch. The flare-flinging Richarlison‘s table-topping xGI tally over the last six matches also sees him get the nod, while I’ve gone for Yerry Mina as my route into the improving Everton backline. Not only does the towering Colombian’s recent recovery boost the Toffees’ clean sheet prospects, he’s also a potential beneficiary of his Gameweek 36 opponents’ aforementioned dead-ball weaknesses.
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