The Scout Squad’s best FPL players for Blank Gameweek 36 |

Fantasy Football Scout regulars David, Andy, Tom and Neale return to pick out their favoured Fantasy Premier League players for the upcoming Gameweek in our weekly Scout Squad feature.

These are ‘Free Hit’-type selections, with the focus only on Blank Gameweek 36 and nothing beyond it.

Each panelist has put forward an 18-man long-list of FPL assests and will explain their notable inclusions and omissions below.

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 the weekly Scout Picks selection ahead of the Friday night 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 £7.5m or lower
  • No more than three players from the same club


David Neale Tom Andy
GK Jordan Pickford Jordan Pickford Jordan Pickford Ederson
Ederson Emiliano Martinez Emiliano Martínez Emiliano Martínez
Robert Sánchez Alex McCarthy Robert Sánchez Jordan Pickford
DF Lucas Digne Trent Alexander-Arnold Lucas Digne Lucas Digne
Trent Alexander-Arnold Seamus Coleman Trent Alexander-Arnold Trent Alexander-Arnold
Ruben Dias Sergio Reguilon John Stones Stuart Dallas
Vladimir Coufal Stuart Dallas Sergio Reguilón Rúben Dias
Jannik Vestergaard John Stones Jannik Vestergaard Jannik Vestergaard
MF Mohamed Salah Mohamed Salah Mohamed Salah Mohamed Salah
Sadio Mané Phil Foden Son Heung-min Sadio Mané
Son Heung-min Gareth Bale Riyad Mahrez Son Heung-min
Raphinha Riyad Mahrez Diogo Jota Riyad Mahrez
Matheus Pereira Pascal Gross Raphinha Raphinha
FW Chris Wood Harry Kane Harry Kane Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Dominic Calvert-Lewin Dominic Calvert-Lewin Dominic Calvert-Lewin Harry Kane
Harry Kane Patrick Bamford Danny Ings Patrick Bamford
Michail Antonio Ollie Watkins Patrick Bamford Danny Ings
Patrick Bamford Danny Ings Ollie Watkins Ollie Watkins

Most popular picks: Jordan Pickford, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (four), Emiliano Martinez, Lucas Digne, Jannik Vestergaard, Raphinha, Son Heung-min, Riyad Mahrez, Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings (three)


I am doubling up on the Everton defence for Blank Gameweek 36 as they prepare to host Sheffield United on Sunday evening. The Blades have failed to find the net in four of their last five Premier League matches, which bodes well for Jordan Pickford and Lucas Digne. The latter is joint-second among defenders for big chances created during the past six matches.

Top of that list is Trent Alexander-Arnold so he goes into my Scout Squad selection almost on his attacking potential alone. Vladimir Coufal has also been performing well in this department. Over his past six matches, only two defenders have played more key passes.

Only Crystal Palace and Sheffield United have conceded more goals across their previous six matches than West Bromwich Albion, which is why I’ve gone for an attacking double-up on Liverpool options. Mohamed Salah is top of the Premier League for shots in the box and joint-second for big chances in his last six while Sadio Mané can boast a marginally better accuracy rate than his Egyptian colleague (38.9% to 37.5%). Crucially, the Senegalese international, who has two goals in his last three appearances, goes up against the Baggies’ weaker flank. Over their last six, Sam Allardyce’s men have given up 29 chances down their right-hand side, the third-most of any other team in the same area and eight more on the left.

Son Heung-min faces a similar dynamic as he goes up against Wolves on the back of 29 points in his last three matches. Over the last six, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have given up 11 chances through the middle, 14 on the left and 21 down the right.

I fancy Raphinha and Patrick Bamford to get something at Turf Moor considering Burnley’s recent switch to a more open style of play. The Clarets have kept just two clean sheets at home since Gameweek 16 and, over their last six, have given up more open-play goal attempts than any other side (79). Still, Sean Dyche’s men will ask Leeds questions of their own, I’m sure. Chris Wood has been in unstoppable form producing eight goals and three assists since Gameweek 27. Crucially, he is joint-top of the league for big chances and top for shots on target over his last six.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin should take advantage of Sheffield United’s defensive shortcomings on Sunday evening considering he is level with Wood for big chances over the same period.


Not for the first time in this ludicrous season, we’re faced with the prospect of selecting players for the upcoming Gameweek while the previous one is still ongoing.

So these picks come with the usual caveat that anything that happens in the two Thursday night matches could affect our Scout Picks selection later tonight.

This looks like a Gameweek for the attackers, with Chris Wood, Michail Antonio and Danny Welbeck boasting good form and/or fixtures and yet still not making the cut in my five-strong forwards list.

In the case of Wood and Antonio, their omissions are more to do with their opponents – the much-improved defences of Leeds and Brighton – than their own qualities. The unavailability of Lewis Dunk and (possibly) Joel Veltman does, however, offer hope for the Hammers.

I have actually selected an Albion asset in my squad, namely Pascal Gross. Since his current run in the starting XI began in Gameweek 19, he has created more chances than any other midfielder.

Granted, the Seagulls’ profligacy means that these opportunities often go unconverted. But West Ham are without a clean sheet in eight matches and have conceded more chances from their left flank than any other side in that time, so the German could prosper whether he’s at right wing-back or slightly narrower in the middle of the park.

Sticking with the midfield, I’ve opted for a City double-up of Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez.

The newly crowned league champions will surely be back at something approaching full strength after their Chelsea defeat and they’ll be facing a Newcastle side who have kept just one clean sheet on their own turf this season. The Magpies have also allowed more chances to be created from their right flank than any other club, which could play into Foden’s hands should he take up his usual left-wing berth.

Mahrez, incidentally, has recorded more penalty box touches in his last six matches than any other FPL midfielder bar the Liverpool duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Selecting Seamus Coleman over Lucas Digne also perhaps requires a bit of explanation. He’s more of a rotation risk, admittedly, but the Irishman has created more chances than Digne (ten v eight) over their last six matches together and frees up a decent chunk of budget to be spent elsewhere.


With a home match against Sheffield United on Sunday evening, I’m backing Everton’s defence in Blank Gameweek 36. 

Jordan Pickford has been solid of late and has now kept three clean sheets in his last five matches, while I’m expecting Lucas Digne to take control of his flank and collect points at both ends of the pitch.

I’ve also included Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has less than a fortnight to convince Gareth Southgate that he should be in England’s squad for next month’s Euro 2020 finals, and John Stones, who should start for Manchester City having completed his three-match domestic suspension.

They’re joined at the back by goalkeepers Emiliano Martínez and Robert Sánchez, plus defenders Sergio Reguilón and Jannik Vestergaard.

Sánchez is something of a leftfield inclusion, given that Brighton and Hove Albion will be without captain Lewis Dunk. However, West Ham United’s chance creation numbers have dipped in recent weeks, while only three teams – Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham Hotspur – have conceded fewer goals than Graham Potter’s side on home turf this season.

Further forward, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane are rather obvious picks, so I’ll focus on some of my other selections.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his 16th Premier League goal of the season last time out and once again proved to be the difference-maker for Everton in the final third. The 24-year-old now ranks joint-top amongst all forwards for big chances over the last six matches, while over the same period, Sheffield United are bottom for chances conceded from the centre of the pitch.

Elsewhere, Riyad Mahrez has been excellent in recent weeks, and though he isn’t assured of a start against Newcastle United tomorrow night, is probably worth the risk, especially for those on a Free Hit. The Algerian has been directly involved in 13 goals in his last 15 appearances in all competitions, and crucially, should be on penalties too.

The offensive list is completed by Leeds United duo Raphinha and Patrick Bamford, plus Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins, whose appeal is boosted by the imminent return of Jack Grealish.


Wolves are a team I don’t particularly like targeting but they haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last three games. Harry Kane continues to dominate the points scoring and underlying stats charts with 5.45 expected goal involvements (xGI) over the last six matches, higher than any other player in the league.

Liverpool v West Brom feels like a perfect match-up. West Brom have continued to be a relatively poor defensive team with 10.97 expected goals (xG) conceded over the last six matches, with only Newcastle (11.53) registering a higher xG than Liverpool (11.16). It’s why I’m backing two attackers over two defenders for this game. Sadio Mané in particular feels like a great differential as well with 16 shots in the box in the same time frames. 

With the Champions League finished until the final, I’m expecting Manchester City to line up with a fairly strong squad for Newcastle before rotating in midweek for Gameweek 37. Riyad Mahrez has 5.4 points per match so far this season, higher than Kevin De Bruyne (5.3), Raheem Sterling (5.1) and Phil Foden (4.6). It’s not often that he’s been an option this year but when we have a better idea of line-ups, he’s always worth considering.

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