Fantasy Football Scout regulars David, Andy, Tom and Neale return to pick out their favoured players for the upcoming Gameweek in our weekly Scout Squad feature.
Each panelist puts forward an 18-man long-list of Fantasy Premier League assests and explains 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
SCOUT SQUAD PICKS
|GK||Edouard Mendy||Edouard Mendy||Edouard Mendy||Ederson|
|Illan Meslier||Illan Meslier||Sam Johnstone||Edouard Mendy|
|Robert Sanchez||Robert Sanchez||Robert Sanchez||Rui Patricio|
|DF||Oleksandr Zinchenko||Stuart Dallas||Sergio Reguilon||Timothy Castagne|
|Kurt Zouma||Sergio Reguilon||Marcos Alonso||Marcos Alonso|
|Diego Llorente||Aymeric Laporte||Lucas Digne||Stuart Dallas|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||Reece James||Timothy Castagne||Lucas Digne|
|Luke Shaw||Conor Townsend||Conor Townsend||Romain Saïss|
|MF||Son Heung-min||Gareth Bale||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min|
|Gareth Bale||Jesse Lingard||Raheem Sterling||Gareth Bale|
|Matheus Pereira||Matheus Pereira||Kai Havertz||Jesse Lingard|
|Kai Havertz||Kai Havertz||Jesse Lingard||Kai Havertz|
|Ferran Torres||Allan Saint-Maximin||Matheus Pereira||Jack Harrison|
|FW||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Kelechi Iheanacho||Kelechi Iheanacho||Kelechi Iheanacho||Jamie Vardy|
|Chris Wood||Gabriel Jesus||Jamie Vardy||Kelechi Iheanacho|
|Gabriel Jesus||Chris Wood||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin|
|Timo Werner||Jamie Vardy||Chris Wood||Chris Wood|
Most popular picks: Edouard Mendy, Kai Havertz, Harry Kane, Kelechi Iheanacho, Chris Wood (four), Robert Sanchez, Jesse Lingard, Son Heung-min, Matheus Pereira, Gareth Bale, Jamie Vardy (three)
I am expecting some rotation for Chelsea as they host Fulham on Saturday afternoon but I have still seen enough to suggest they can keep another clean sheet, specifically Edouard Mendy and Kurt Zouma.
They remain the Premier League’s best side for expected goals conceded (xGC) over the last six matches while Fulham are the second-lowest scorers after 33 Gameweeks.
I have also been impressed with the Leeds defence recently, their total of four goals conceded in the last six bested only by Manchester United (three).
Illan Meslier is a simple inclusion for the Scout Squad while Diego Llorente is a good budget option to cover a favourable trip to Brighton for just £4.4m.
I find it hard to expect anything other than a 0-0 between Manchester United and Liverpool on Sunday afternoon which is why I have included both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luke Shaw.
Oleksandr Zinchenko could enjoy his Saturday-lunchtime meeting with Crystal Palace. With Champions League commitments to consider, Pep Guardiola seems likely to start the Ukraine international who sits behind only Alexander-Arnold and Shaw for key passes among defenders over their last six matches.
Over the same period, no Premier League team has registered a higher xGC score than Sheffield United, so Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale and Harry Kane all look good options, especially the latter. He has the Premier League’s best minutes per expected goal involvement (xGI) over the last six.
With four goals and two assists since Gameweek 30, Matheus Pereira is in excellent form right now. I think he can continue his exploits against Wolves considering how unreliable their defence has been of late. They do have two clean sheets in their last three, although they were against the Premier League’s worst attack. But over the last four matches, Sam Allardyce’s men have found the net more times than any other team (10 goals).
Rotation plays a part in my selecting Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus this week, two players who did not feature against PSG.
The former has either scored or assisted in three of his last four Premier League starts while, over the last six, no Manchester City player has a better figure for minutes per xGI than Jesus.
While Kelechi Iheanacho‘s inclusion becomes more obvious each week, I want to continue my ongoing support for Chris Wood.
Over the last six matches, he is second among all Premier League players for shots in the box, joint-top for big chances and the best for most shots on target. Over the last two matches, when they have been without Aaron Cresswell, West Ham have the second-worst xGC score in the division.
With uncertainty still surrounding the blanks and doubles that may follow it, Gameweek 34 feels like something akin to Fantasy purgatory.
It’s a tricky set of fixtures to navigate, too, with Liverpool and Manchester United squaring off and four English clubs in European semi-final action on either side of their weekend match.
On the latter point, there’s the usual smattering of City and Chelsea assets – namely Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus, Kai Havertz and Reece James – who are selected primarily because they didn’t feature from kick-off on the continent in midweek.
But it’s not just about probable weekend starts.
Laporte’s inclusion, for example, is partly based on Crystal Palace conceding the joint-highest number of headed chances in their last six matches.
I’ve also opted for James over Marcos Alonso. While the former can’t come close to the latter’s goal threat, he can match him for chances created in their last half-dozen appearances and is a bonus point-collecting machine: no defender with more than 1,000 minutes to their name in 2020/21 has a better BBPS-per-minute average than the Chelsea right-back.
Arsenal’s own involvement in Europe and their mid-table fodder tag on the domestic front will likely result in Mikel Arteta running wild with the changes on Tyneside this weekend.
I can see plenty of goals in this fixture, as Newcastle have both scored and conceded in their last eight home matches at St James’ Park.
Allan Saint-Maximin has looked electric since his return from injury and caught the eye once again against Liverpool last weekend, despite blanking. His eight chances created from Gameweek 31 onwards is a joint-high among FPL midfielders, while he’s also had seven shots of his own in that time.
Rather obvious picks abound elsewhere but Conor Townsend appears in my preliminary selection again and warrants a mention.
West Brom have conceded just two goals in their last five matches at the Hawthorns and, while they may have to open up a tad in order to record much-needed wins, they are up against a pretty feeble Wolves attack this weekend.
At the other end of the pitch, Townsend is joint-fourth among FPL defenders for chances created in his last six matches.
Edouard Mendy is my first-choice goalkeeper in Gameweek 34. Chelsea have now kept 10 clean sheets in 14 Premier League matches under Thomas Tuchel, and though Mendy has been rotated twice during that time, I don’t see Kepa Arrizabalaga’s recent recall as anything more than a reward for his performance in the cup.
I’ve also selected Sam Johnstone, who has made more saves than any other keeper this season, and Robert Sánchez.
In defence, Tottenham Hotspur’s Sergio Reguilón is my top pick. His form has been a bit up and down in recent matches, but he did look lively against Southampton as he assisted Son Heung-min’s disallowed goal before winning the penalty that won the match. He ended the game with more opposition half touches than any other player on the pitch, while his average position was much higher than his colleague on the other side, Serge Aurier.
I’ve also found spots for Marcos Alonso, who should start given his midweek rest, Timothy Castagne and budget pick Conor Townsend.
Elsewhere, Everton’s win at Arsenal moved them into European contention, with Lucas Digne thriving. The 27-year-old now ranks second amongst all defenders for successful crosses this season, and will be attacking Aston Villa’s right-flank, which can sometimes look vulnerable when John McGinn pushes forward. If that happens again, you’d expect Dominic Calvert-Lewin to be the main beneficiary from those deliveries.
Further forward, the Spurs’ and Leicester City attacking picks largely speak for themselves, so I’ll dedicate a bit more time to a couple of differentials.
In what is a must-win game for West Bromwich Albion on Monday, the Baggies will again turn to talisman Matheus Pereira for inspiration. The Brazilian playmaker is Albion’s top scorer this season and has contributed the most assists, too. And though opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers haven’t given up much down Pereira’s side in recent matches, I expect he’ll operate as more of a no. 10, where he can drift infield and naturally become more involved.
Meanwhile, for a fourth consecutive season, Chris Wood is into double figures for Premier League goals. The New Zealander had a direct hand in all four at Molineux in Gameweek 33, and now boasts nine attacking returns in his last six starts.
The offensive list is rounded off by midfielders Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz and Jesse Lingard.
With key European semi-finals being played this week it’s another week of guessing rotation. With Manchester United playing Liverpool, I’ve ignored that match as well as Arsenal players.
Manchester City look a dead cert for a clean sheet against Crystal Palace, who are bottom for expected goals over the season so far (with 26.49); hence Ederson in goal.
With Raphinha set to miss out, I’ve opted for a different midfielder from Leeds in Jack Harrison. He’s been overlooked a lot this season because of the Brazilian, but the on-loan winger from Man City has 2.18 xGI over the last four weeks which puts him in the top nine for midfielders.
Although Gareth Bale was benched for the EFL Cup Final, I’m expecting him to start the majority of Premier League games and I’m backing Spurs to comfortably beat a team that are still conceding plenty of chances with 13.19 xG conceded over the last six and 63 shots in the box, making them the worst team in the league on both counts.
Chelsea have some tough fixtures to end the season as well as important Champions League and FA Cup matches to come. I’m expecting Ben Chilwell to play the 2nd leg against Real Madrid and the game against Man City in Gameweek 35. If Marcos Alonso is going to get some more minutes I’d say it will be against Fulham, who are the third-worst team for xG over the last six matches. Alonso himself has had eight shots in the box over his last six matches which no other defender can beat, he’s also created eight chances in the same time period.
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