The Scout Squad are back to pick their best players for Blank Gameweek 18.
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 16:30 GMT on Tuesday.
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 New Year’s Day.
|GK||David de Gea||Karl Darlow||Bernd Leno||Karl Darlow|
|Karl Darlow||Hugo Lloris||Rui Patrício||Nick Pope|
|Aaron Ramsdale||Aaron Ramsdale||Nick Pope||Vicente Guaita|
|DEF||Rúben Dias||João Cancelo||João Cancelo||Kieran Tierney|
|João Cancelo||Harry Maguire||Aaron Wan-Bissaka||João Cancelo|
|Kieran Tierney||Keiran Tierney||Kieran Tierney||Romain Saïss|
|Romain Saïss||Romain Saiss||Romain Saïss||Harry Maguire|
|Ciaran Clark||Sergio Reguilón||Chris Basham||Federico Fernández|
|MID||Kevin De Bruyne||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Bruno Fernandes||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Bruno Fernandes|
|Marcus Rashford||Raheem Sterling||Raheem Sterling||Marcus Rashford|
|Son Heung-min||Marcus Rashford||Marcus Rashford||Ilkay Gündogan|
|Bukayo Saka||Bukayo Saka||Pedro Neto||Emile Smith Rowe|
|FWD||Harry Kane||Alexandre Lacazette||Alexandre Lacazette||Alexandre Lacazette|
|Alexandre Lacazette||Harry Kane||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Callum Wilson|
|Callum Wilson||Callum Wilson||David McGoldrick||Fabio Silva|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Ollie Watkins||Callum Wilson||Christian Benteke|
|David McGoldrick||Chris Wood||Chris Wood||Chris Wood|
With eight teams blanking in Gameweek 18 I’ve tripled up on four sides in my selections.
Investing in Manchester City looks an obvious tactic, as they host Brighton and Hove Albion. They are clearly the best defensive play this week so a double-up makes sense, with just three goals conceded in their last 12 games in all competitions. Albion tend to defend pretty well from open-play, but given how poor they are at marking corners, I’ve called up one of City’s biggest aerial threats Rúben Dias and dead-ball specialist Kevin De Bruyne. João Cancelo also looks like an excellent option, having really shone on the right with Kyle Walker out of action. When in possession he’s taking up some really nice advanced positions, too.
Manchester United travel to Burnley so David de Gea, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford get the nod. The Red Devils are now unbeaten in 10 in the league, and have done well in previous seasons at Turf Moor. Having scored against Aston Villa last time out, Fernandes now has seven goals and assists across his last six games, while Rashford is yet to blank on the road this term.
I’ve also taken three from Arsenal: Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette. I really like Tierney in a back four, while Saka is a nice enabler with so many premium picks selected. Lacazette has stepped up his output too, scoring five goals in his last four outings. He now has the highest xG within the club this season, and is converting at an impressive 30.4%, comfortably the highest at Arsenal.
Meanwhile, I’ve also turned to Newcastle United, via Karl Darlow, Ciaran Clark and Callum Wilson. Their opponents, Sheffield United, are still winless after 17 games, making the worst start in Premier League history by collecting just two points. At the back, Darlow has been one of Steve Bruce’s better performers, while Clark carries a bit of threat from set-pieces. Further forward, if they are to find the back of the net, it’s highly likely Wilson will be involved.
However, I don’t fully trust Newcastle, so in a week where our player pool is vastly reduced, I’ve also opted for Aaron Ramsdale and David McGoldrick.
Despite it looking increasingly likely Aston Villa’s match against Tottenham Hotspur will be postponed, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane have the potential to do well if it does go ahead, while Romain Saiss and Dominic Calvert-Lewin complete the picks.
Some of the players in the squad this week pick themselves by virtue of there only being six fixtures to pick from.
With the opposition they face it seems foolish not to target at least three players from each of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.
There are of course other players to consider as well. It’s tricky to call Wolves v Everton. I expected the Wolves v Brighton game to be close in Gamweek 17 and there ended up being six goals.
Regardless of clean sheet potential there’s hope for Romain Saiss who’s back in the team as he’s had seven shots in the box over the last four Gameweeks, two more than the second place Harry Maguire with five.
Bruno Fernandes continues to deliver key underlying numbers to back up his returns. Only Anwar El Ghazi has had more total shots (18), than the Manchester United talisman (16) over the last four weeks.
With 14 chances created, Fernandes is second in that metric only to Jack Grealish. With nine shots inside the box in the same time and penalties in his locker there’s no doubt more returns against Burnley to come.
While most non-free hitters will likely opt for double Manchester City defence over attack for the long term play, if I was free hitting this week or indeed picking a squad for an article then I’d look at double attack instead.
Kevin De Bruyne (3.31) and Raheem Sterling (2.74) are in the top 5 players for expected goal involvement over the last four weeks. It’s worth mentioning that Fernandes, El Ghazi and Chris Wood make up the other three spots who are all playing in Gameweek 18.
Looking at the last four Gameweeks Keiran Tierney (11) has only been beaten by Luke Shaw (12) for chances created. The only reason I’ve included Maguire over Shaw is because I can’t be completely reliant on minutes with Alex Telles waiting in the winds.
Tierney and Arsenal are on somewhat of a resurgence over the last few games, with three wins on the bounce they play a Crystal Palace side who are on an average of 1.51 expected goals conceded so far this season, as bad as Sheffield United.
I have serious doubts over the status of the Aston Villa v Tottenham game on Wednesday, and have therefore left out two players I would certainly look at if the game does go ahead, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane.
Including the pair would have helped me avoid picking
defenders who play against my attackers, as I’ve looked to include
no more than three players from each team.
Midfield looks like the place to score points this week and a 3-5-2
formation might be optimal. I’ve gone for Bruno Fernandes
and Kevin De Bruyne as my headline picks with penalties and high goal involvement for their sides.
Raheem Sterling has attacking returns in four straight, and
Marcus Rashford has scored five goals in seven. I’ve opted for Pedro Neto as my cheaper option.
Allowed one more from both City and United I look to João Cancelo and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Elsewhere, Kieran Tierney has both form and fixture, while Romain Saïss has an eye for goal.
Sheffield United haven’t had a clean sheet all season but I think this is the week that Chris Basham returns points.
Alexandre Lacazette has four goals in three Gameweeks and has more than twice as many goals as any other Arsenal player; I expect him to score again at home to Crystal Palace.
I’m ignoring Kane and Watkins and have three City and three United already, so look to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has attacking returns in all but four fixtures this season.
David McGoldrick might seem a strange pick but I agree with
RateMyTeam, where he sits third for forwards this Gameweek; a look at his
incredible goal involvement for Sheffield United tells the story here and if the Blades do score, he’ll likely be involved.
I am then left with Callum Wilson and Chris Wood, two players who play against defenders I’ve picked but two players who will likely be involved in goals, if their teams score.
At the back, Bernd Leno is my top goalkeeper this week, with Rui Patricio and Nick Pope serving as possibly-able backups, though
they play against players I’ve picked in attack.
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