Manchester City and Chelsea assets are predictably at the forefront of our Scout Squad panel’s thoughts as we head into what looks like a nine-match Gameweek 11, owing to the postponement of the Friday night clash between Aston Villa and Newcastle United.
For those new to these pages, this weekly precursor to the Scout Picks selection sees our four-man panel champion the standout Fantasy Premier League assets for the upcoming Gameweek.
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 whittled down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83m) for the weekly Scout Picks selection ahead of the new FPL deadline at 11:00 GMT on Saturday.
In each 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||Alex McCarthy||Sam Johnstone||Ederson||Hugo Lloris|
|Hugo Lloris||Edouard Mendy||Sam Johnstone||Edouard Mendy|
|Edouard Mendy||Jordan Pickford||Alex McCarthy||Sam Johnstone|
|DF||Ben Chilwell||Ben Chilwell||Ben Chilwell||Andrew Robertson|
|Rúben Dias||Sergio Reguilon||Patrick van Aanholt||Ben Chilwell|
|Sergio Reguilón||Patrick van Aanholt||Andrew Robertson||Patrick van Aanholt|
|Patrick van Aanholt||Jonny Evans||Sergio Reguilón||Harry Maguire|
|James Justin||Tariq Lamptey||Tariq Lamptey||James Justin|
|MF||Bruno Fernandes||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Bruno Fernandes||Mohamed Salah||Riyad Mahrez|
|Son Heung-min||Mohamed Salah||Bruno Fernandes||Bruno Fernandes|
|Harvey Barnes||Riyad Mahrez||Riyad Mahrez||Mohamed Salah|
|Pedro Neto||Pedro Neto||Stuart Armstrong||James Ward-Prowse|
|FW||Jamie Vardy||Gabriel Jesus||Jamie Vardy||Gabriel Jesus|
|Gabriel Jesus||Timo Werner||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Harry Kane||Timo Werner||Jamie Vardy|
|Harry Kane||Jamie Vardy||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Timo Werner|
|Chris Wood||Danny Welbeck||Chris Wood||Che Adams|
Most popular picks: Ben Chilwell, Patrick van Aanholt, Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane (four), Sam Johnstone, Edouard Mendy, Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Timo Werner (three)
Ahead of a Gameweek 11 clash with Leeds, I have more confidence in Chelsea’s defensive assets than their attacking ones.
The return of Kalvin Phillips has greatly improved the Whites’ own problems at the back while the threat of Frank Lampard rotating his wingers and forwards is too worrying for me.
However, their defence is one of the best in the Premier League right now, with three clean sheets in the last four, recorded from the division’s best figure for expected goals conceded (xGC) and fewest big chances conceded.
Edouard Mendy has saved 80% of the shots on target he has faced in that time while only one defender has more shots in the box than Ben Chilwell.
I am also placing similar faith in Spurs defensive assets Hugo Lloris and Sergio Reguilón. They both have three clean sheets each since Gameweek 7 and face an anaemic Arsenal attack this weekend. The Gunners have found the net just twice in their last six Premier League matches.
The long-term prospects of Patrick van Aanholt are not strong, in my opinion, but his owners could get a farewell haul from the left-back at West Bromwich Albion.
Crystal Palace’s defence has been woeful in 2020, with just two clean sheets in the last 18 league outings but van Aanholt has offered plenty of threat, with the joint-highest number of attempts on goal of any colleague since Gameweek 7.
Bruno Fernandes is away from home again in Gameweek 11 so it will be another double-figure haul for him, surely? The Portuguese international has averaged 12.5 points per game on the road this season and now faces a trip to West Ham.
The interest in Hammers defenders is not insignificant right now but they are carrying some wavering underlying statistics in recent weeks. Only four teams have registered a higher xGC figure since Gameweek 7, while Fernandes is second in the division for big chances created and behind only Jamie Vardy for shots on target in that time.
I expect the Leicester man to make the most of that fact when he faces Sheffield United, the only team yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season.
While Vardy disappointed his ownership with just an assist against Fulham, he has been a different animal away from home this season. Indeed, 80.3% of his Fantasy points have come on the road in 2020/21.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United’s well-documented problems defending the right-hand side of the pitch this season (conceding more there than any other side) should see Harvey Barnes follow up his Gameweek 10 goal with more attacking returns.
Kevin De Bruyne is very much a no-brainer this week considering he faces Fulham at home. The Cottagers have definitely made some defensive improvements but the Belgian looks back to his best. Two assists and inches from a goal against Burnley is enough to convince me he can get something on Saturday afternoon.
Son Heung-min makes a bit of a surprise inclusion in my squad. That’s because only one team has conceded more chances on their right flank in the last four matches than Arsenal – perfectly suited to where the South Korean operates for Spurs.
Considering how often Son’s attacking returns involve Harry Kane, it is hard not to select him as well, especially as he has three goals in his last five Premier League north London derbies.
Pedro Neto has gone under the radar this season but has started to turn some heads in recent outings. Four of his six attacking returns in 2020/21 have come in the last four matches, a period in which the Wolves winger sits joint-third in the league for big chances created.
I am also backing Dominic Calvert-Lewin to get back to scoring ways at Burnley this weekend. Only one team has given up more headed chances than the Clarets since Gameweek 7.
Fulham’s recent upturn in performances haven’t deterred me from a Manchester City triple-up, even if I can see the Cottagers posing a threat or two on the break.
It was only last week that we were heralding the defensive strides made by Burnley ahead of their trip to the Etihad and Sean Dyche’s side were subsequently handed their annual 5-0 thrashing, with City finally kicking into gear after a below-par start to 2020/21.
Second-guessing Pep Guardiola’s starting XI is a nigh-on impossible task but we have to use every bit of information we can to narrow the odds in our favour and midweek benchings for Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez at least raise the possibility of starts for that trio in Gameweek 11, if not guaranteeing them. Sergio Aguero’s ongoing injury woes also aid the case of Jesus.
It was a tough call to overlook the likes of Ruben Dias for that clash at Eastlands but less so for the match between Liverpool and Wolves, which could be high on goalmouth action.
Both sides have rolled out more attacking 4-2-3-1 formations in recent weeks and while there are no guarantees that either manager will stick with these systems at Anfield, a central midfield injury crisis for the Reds and a superb away-day performance by Wolves at the Emirates raises hopes that Messrs Klopp and Santo will go toe to toe on Merseyside.
The form of Pedro Neto, who is top for expected goal involvement among Wolves players this season, convinces me to give him the nod, especially as he could be up against a rookie in Neco Williams down the Liverpool right.
Targeting matches against goal-shy Burnley, Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion for clean sheets has proven to be a fruitful enterprise, hence my picks from admittedly out-of-form defences at Everton, Leicester City and Crystal Palace – two of whom are without a shut-out since Gameweek 1.
Leicester haven’t had much joy from dead-ball situations this season, although that perhaps could be explained away by James Maddison’s early-season absence – and we have seen their chance creation at set pieces rise since his return to the starting XI.
Jonny Evans was among the top five defenders for headed attempts from set plays last season and with Sheffield United bottom of the table for chances conceded from free-kicks and corners in 2020/21, I’m backing the Leicester centre-half at both ends of the pitch.
Patrick van Aanholt hasn’t done much to warrant investment either but the fact remains that he boasts the best minutes-per-chance average of any FPL defender this season and a trip to the Hawthorns, where West Brom have carved out a joint-low four big chances in the current campaign, presents him with a final realistic chance at a double-digit haul before the Eagles’ fixtures turn for the worse.
No goals from open play for Arsenal since Gameweek 4 suggests we can also add the Gunners to the list of attacks to target for clean sheet purposes, hence my backing of the division’s tightest defence and, fitness-permitting, Sergio Reguilon.
After witnessing Alex McCarthy being kept seriously busy over the last two Gameweeks, I’m tipping Danny Welbeck as my fifth forward.
Welbeck can’t be bettered for penalty box touches over the last three Gameweeks and with fitness doubts lingering over Neal Maupay, the budget Brighton striker’s place in Graham Potter’s starting XI may be cemented for now.
Saints, incidentally, have created fewer big chances than any other side over the last four Gameweeks and continue to be heavily reliant on set-play attempts, so I’m also backing the returning Tariq Lamptey for the Seagulls.
Even with qualification to the Champions League knockout stages already secured, Pep Guardiola took a strong Manchester City squad to Porto to win the group with a game to spare. However, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez were given the full evening off, which bodes well for starts on Saturday, given the City boss has spent his last few press conferences insisting that good performances will see players keep their place. Despite that, picking a starting defender isn’t straightforward, which is why I’ve opted for the security of Ederson in goal.
Given Arsenal’s ongoing troubles, which have seen them win just one of their last six league matches, I’m also backing Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Kane loves a north London Derby, while Sergio Reguilón has now kept three clean sheets on the bounce and will be attacking the Gunners’ weaker right flank. With Arsenal’s total of 31 shots on target this season the fifth worst in the league, there is potential for points at both ends of the pitch, providing they are both fit.
Elsewhere, Bruno Fernandes didn’t have the best of games at Southampton in Gameweek 10 but was still on the scoresheet. Though you never know what to expect each time Manchester United run out, it doesn’t seem to matter to the Portuguese playmaker, who has now scored in three straight matches. Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy and Timo Werner complete the list of attacking heavy hitters, while at the back, Andrew Robertson drops below Ben Chilwell and Patrick van Aanholt as a result of Liverpool’s mounting injury list and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ recent switch to a back four, which has brought two improved attacking displays.
Savings will be needed with so many premium options selected, which is why I’ve turned to budget keepers Sam Johnstone and Alex McCarthy, plus Tariq Lamptey, largely for his attacking threat. I’ve also found spots for two differentials. Stuart Armstrong’s clever infield movements will ask plenty of questions of Brighton and Hove Albion’s backline, while Chris Wood’s opponents, Everton, have now been struggling at the back for a significant period of time. They have conceded 24 big chances this season, with 20 of them coming in the last six games. I don’t see the Clarets having it all their own way though, hence the inclusion of Premier League top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
FPL will be far too easy whenever Pep Guardiola ends up leaving Manchester City, because we may know how the team will line up in advance. Given that Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne all started on the bench in the Champions League, I’m hoping they’ll start in Gameweek 11. Fulham have started to show some resilience by making it into the top nine best teams for expected goals conceded (xGC) in the last four Gameweeks but over the course of the season they’re the third-worst, and I can’t imagine Man City will have too much trouble in this one.
With three double-digit hauls in the last five Gameweeks, James Ward-Prowse has been somewhat on fire recently, especially from dead-ball situations. With only six direct free-kicks scored in total this season (and Ward-Prowse scoring three of them), it shows how rarely they actually go in. But he’s on somewhat of a hot streak at the moment, playing a Brighton team that have only kept two clean sheets all season.
In the last four Gameweeks, only Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell have had more shots in the box than Patrick van Aanholt when it comes to defenders. He plays a West Brom side coming off the back of a bit of a fortunate clean sheet, with Sam Johnstone once again making a lot of saves. No team conceded more shots in the box than West Brom in Gameweek 10, so there will be chances for Crystal Palace in this one.
While I was happy enough to sell Harry Kane from my own team, I’m not oblivious to the fact that outside of Liverpool (a) to come in Gameweek 13, he’s just played two of his hardest fixtures from this run. In the last four Gameweeks, only West Brom have conceded more shots in the box than Arsenal. It’s not a bad time for Spurs to play in a north London derby, and while Jose Mourinho has speculated that “he has a chance to play”, I can’t help but feel this is just mind games and he’ll be fine.
THE COMMUNITY CHAMPION
Each week, one of the Fantasy Football Scout community takes on the Scout Picks by pitting their chosen XI against ours.
The community member who beats our picks by the biggest margin over the campaign will win a £100 Amazon Voucher and a place in our Moderators and Contributors League for the following season.
AA33‘s whopping 53-point winning margin in Gameweek 2 is the target to beat.
In Gameweek 10, asquishypotato triumphed with a narrow 73-72 victory. The Scout Picks still lead the community over the course of the season but the deficit has been reduced to 6-4.
Our next Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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