The Scout Squad panel reassemble after a fortnight’s breather to pick out the most appealing players for Gameweek 30.
The final international break of 2020/21 came to a close on Wednesday evening but the assortment of World Cup qualifiers and friendlies will still have a significant say on the selections, with injury and fatigue factors to consider.
For those new to this feature, Fantasy Football Scout editor David, deputy editor Neale, video content manager Andy and Pro Pundit Tom each put forward an 18-man long-list of players and explain their notable inclusions and omissions below.
The assets 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 FPL deadline at 11:00 GMT on Saturday.
In each writer’s squad, there are requirements for at least:
- One goalkeeper costing £5.0m or less
- One sub-£5.0m defender
- One midfielder listed at £6.5m or below
- One forward priced at £7.5m or lower
Each panelist is also restricted to no more than three players from the same team, as is the case in FPL.
We will again be adding a captaincy to the Scout Picks, with details of that revealed on Friday.
|GK||Emiliano Martinez||Edouard Mendy||Edouard Mendy||Edouard Mendy|
|Edouard Mendy||Emiliano Martinez||Hugo Lloris||Emiliano Martínez|
|Robert Sanchez||Fraser Forster||Fraser Forster||Lukasz Fabianski|
|DF||Cesar Azpilicueta||Marcos Alonso||Marcos Alonso||César Azpilicueta|
|Antonio Rudiger||Luke Shaw||Lucas Digne||Antonio Rüdiger|
|Lucas Digne||Lucas Digne||Luke Shaw||Luke Shaw|
|Matt Targett||Stuart Dallas||Stuart Dallas||Stuart Dallas|
|Luke Shaw||Craig Dawson||Kyle Walker-Peters||Lucas Digne|
|MF||Raphinha||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Raphinha|
|Jesse Lingard||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes||Son Heung-min|
|Bruno Fernandes||Raphinha||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Gareth Bale||Riyad Mahrez||Raphinha||Lucas Moura|
|Son Heung-min||Lucas Moura||Kai Havertz||Bruno Fernandes|
|FW||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Patrick Bamford||Patrick Bamford||Patrick Bamford||Patrick Bamford|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin|
|Michail Antonio||Michail Antonio||Danny Ings||Ollie Watkins|
|Ollie Watkins||Che Adams||Ollie Watkins||Michail Antonio|
Most popular picks: Edouard Mendy, Luke Shaw, Lucas Digne, Raphinha, Son Heung-min, Bruno Fernandes, Harry Kane, Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (four), Emiliano Martinez, Stuart Dallas, Michail Antonio, Ollie Watkins (three)
Aston Villa and Chelsea are my favourite defences for Gameweek 30 as they prepare to host West Bromwich Albion and Fulham respectively.
Sam Allardyce’s men have scored in just two of their last seven league matches while Chelsea have conceded the fewest goals of any top-flight team in their last six.
Considering the goals have not flowed with the same regularity as clean sheets, I’m tripling-up at the back with Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rüdiger, Chelsea’s three most-nailed-on defensive assets.
As for Aston Villa, they face a Fulham outfit who have failed to find the net in three of their last five outings, which bodes well for Emiliano Martínez and Matt Targett.
Lucas Digne is top among all Everton defenders for expected goal involvement (xGI) over the last six matches, suggesting he is the best to consider from the Toffees backline in Gameweek 30.
Crystal Palace are his upcoming opponents, who are bottom of the whole Premier League for expected goals (xG) over the last six matches.
I am expected a lot of goals when Leeds host Sheffield United in a Saturday afternoon Yorkshire derby.
The Blades are still managerless since the departure of Chris Wilder and, over the last six matches, are bottom of the league for expected goals conceded (xGC) by quite a considerable margin.
Raphinha and Patrick Bamford are about as must-have as it gets for Gameweek 30, each one arguably in the captaincy conversation, too.
Jesse Lingard remains joint-top of the league over the last six matches for shots on target so I am backing the West Ham midfielder to continue his recent form against Wolves.
Newcastle look in serious danger of the drop right now, especially considering they sit in the division’s bottom five for xGC over the last six matches. They have also given up at least two goals in eight of their last 12.
That bodes well for Harry Kane and Gareth Bale, who should have the creative force of Son Heung-min back in the team for Gameweek 30.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace are joint-worst in the Premier League over the last six matches for headed attempts conceded, so Dominic Calvert-Lewin should enjoy his Monday-evening meeting with the Eagles.
A two-week breather is no guarantee of a start this weekend, nor does considerable playing time during the international break necessarily mean that a benching is on the cards.
That is especially true of Manchester City assets, with Pep Guardiola having previously talked of the importance of “rhythm”.
Riyad Mahrez hopefully falls somewhere in the middle, with a decent rest preceding his one and only run-out for Algeria on Monday.
Mahrez has started eight of City’s last ten league matches and while next Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund further muddies the waters, I’m hoping that his recent form and track record against his old employers (four attacking returns in as many games) counts for something.
He has four goals and as many assists over his last six matches and is joint-top among FPL midfielders for shots in the box during that time.
Thomas Tuchel is proving to be just as hard to second-guess as Guardiola and again, it’d be naive to think that we can 100% count on the likes of Marcos Alonso just because of his fortnight off.
But with positional rival Ben Chilwell returning late after three hours of playing time with England (bear in mind that Chelsea are in action in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off) and that Alonso’s physicality might be a better match for Sam Allardyce’s Baggies, I’m taking a punt on the Spaniard.
Alonso has had more penalty box touches and shots in the opposition area than any other FPL defender in their last six matches, so he’s due one of his bi-annual hauls.
There will be no prizes awarded for originality by going big on Leeds United, Everton, Spurs and Chelsea this week, so I won’t waste much time in trying to justify why, for example, Raphinha is a shrewd acquisition ahead of the visit of managerless, bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United.
As for the less obvious picks, Craig Dawson gets the nod as my budget defender. As I discussed in my recent article, Wolves are both toothless in attack and prone to conceding from crosses and set plays – so that could be a match made in heaven for the West Ham centre-half.
Up top, I’ve plumped for Che Adams as my fifth forward.
On the scoresheet for Scotland in midweek and with three goals in as many Premier League matches to his name, Adams will be facing a Burnley side who have uncharacteristically kept just four clean sheets in their last 17 matches – only three teams have worse records from Gameweek 14 onwards.
I’ve doubled up on Chelsea’s defence ahead of their Gameweek 30 meeting with West Bromwich Albion.
In Thomas Tuchel’s ten league matches, the Blues have conceded on just two occasions – one of them being an own-goal from Antonio Rüdiger. Added to that, they have kept eight clean sheets with another four in their cup matches.
Edouard Mendy and César Azpilicueta are probably the safest routes in, but as a one-week punt, I like Marcos Alonso, who I fancy to start given Ben Chilwell’s involvement for England over the international break.
I’ve also called up Lucas Digne and Luke Shaw.
Everton’s opponents, Crystal Palace, have conceded 91 headed attempts this season, which is at least 12 more than any other side. That suggests Digne’s delivery from wide areas could be key, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin the likely beneficiary. Shaw has the potential to deliver points at both ends of the pitch too, having developed into one of Manchester United’s most important attacking outlets.
They’re joined at the back by goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Fraser Forster, plus Stuart Dallas and Kyle Walker-Peters.
In midfield, Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne are obvious inclusions, but it’s Son Heung-min I like most this week.
This season, Newcastle United have conceded a lot of chances from their right, so it was no surprise that two of Brighton and Hove Albion’s goals came from that side last time out. The data suggests it’s a weak spot, which is something Son can capitalise on, providing he is fit. It’s also worth noting that Steve Bruce’s side have managed just a single clean sheet in 14 attempts at St James’ Park this season, which backs up my decision to double up and include Harry Kane as my top forward pick.
Elsewhere, Kai Havertz also has the potential to do well if he avoids Tuchel’s rotation. The 21-year-old has had more success since being deployed closer to goal, where he has the freedom to roam and drop into pockets of space between the lines. And if he can get a bit more support in and around him, I’m backing him to return on Saturday.
The offensive list is completed by Leeds United duo Raphinha and Patrick Bamford, along with Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins.
Over the last six matches, no team has a better expected goals conceded (xGC) total than Chelsea’s 2.56. They were already a good defensive side under Frank Lampard and now they are at an elite level in the Thomas Tuchel era. West Brom won’t have an easy time scoring. I’d have liked to have opted for a punt on Marcos Alonso with my picks, but I’ve played it safe with those that I think are pretty much guaranteed to start.
Over that same timeframe, Sheffield United have conceded 14.01 expected goals. To show how poor that is, Crystal Palace are in second place with 9.74. Tripling up on Leeds United seems like a no-brainer. Only four players – not one of them a midfielder – can better Raphinha’s 3.86 xGI over their last six matches.
If Gareth Bale hadn’t missed out in Gameweek 29 then he’d easily be in my squad but I’m worried about his starting place now. Lucas Moura, by contrast, has started five of the last six and may have done enough to warrant a consistent starting spot. Over those last half-dozen matches, he’s had 10 shots in the box and created 11 chances. He might not be as explosive as Bale, but he feels like a safer starter at this point.
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