We’ve put together our Scout Picks ‘bus team’ ahead of Gameweek 4 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
For those who haven’t seen this article series before, it’s a first draft of our regular picks, which get finalised and published much closer to the deadline.
We are limited to a £83.0m budget for our starting XI, while our bench is also price-capped after a reader vote – although we will continue to offer our ‘alternative’ substitutes in the final Scout Picks based on the old criteria.
The final picks will stay as they are and cement our weekly selection based on the Scout Squad long-list entries and fresh injury updates but this ‘bus team’ article – a term coined by the Always Cheating boys – will discuss the players who are likely to be in the running.
Off we go again, then, with our early thoughts on the runners and riders up for selection in Gameweek 4, followed by the preliminary picks themselves.
THE LIKELY LADS
There will inevitably be considerable representation from Liverpool in Gameweek 4, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) and Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) featuring in our Scout Picks bus team.
However, more/others could follow, with Monday’s match against Manchester United, injuries and press conference quotes set to be deciding factors when we finalise our selection on Friday.
In truth, adding Andrew Robertson (£6.9m) or Luis Diaz (£8.0m) into the mix is equally appealing, given that opponents Bournemouth have failed to register a single big chance against Manchester City and Arsenal in the last two Gameweeks, conceding seven goals in the process.
The initial thought at Arsenal, meanwhile, is towards an attacking double-up, via the in-form Gabriel Martinelli (£6.4m) and Gabriel Jesus (£8.1m).
Both players were electric at Bournemouth in Gameweek 3 and were a little unfortunate to end the day with just six and four FPL points respectively, given how dangerous they looked in the final-third. Indeed, Martinelli racked up match-leading totals for goal attempts (four) and shots in the box (three), while Jesus had an effort narrowly ruled out by VAR.
It’s worth noting that opponents Fulham aren’t pushovers, having impressed again against Brentford at the weekend, but given Arsenal’s improving defence, representation at the back also looks likely, with Aaron Ramsdale (£5.0m), Gabriel Magalhaes (£5.0m), Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.2) and the cheaper William Saliba (£4.6m) in the running.
Near the top of many managers’ Watchlist, and likely ours, will be Tottenham Hotspur assets in Gameweek 4, but who?
Defensive representation, be it through the impressive Ivan Perisic (£5.4m) or the more ‘nailed’ Hugo Lloris (£5.5m), looks on the cards for the Scout Picks, with no team giving up fewer big chances than Antonio Conte’s side so far this season. Perisic perhaps has the edge, as even if Spurs do concede at a raucous City Ground, his ability in the final-third could lead to goals and assists.
It’s a fair bet to assume a Spurs attacker will work their way into the Scout Picks, too, with the underperforming Son Heung-min (£11.9m) perhaps less likely to feature than team-mates Dejan Kulusevski (£8.2m) and Harry Kane (£11.4m).
Kane made it two goals in two matches and hit the crossbar from a Kulusevski cross in Gameweek 3, and that’s where one of this week’s main dilemmas lies. In reality, with Salah likely to be a popular Scout Squad pick, it’ll probably be just one of Kane, Erling Haaland (£11.7m) or Kevin De Bruyne (£12.1m) in the final selection on Friday.
Haaland was relatively quiet in the first-half at St James’ Park, but came to life after the break, as he found the net and hit the post from three big chances, while De Bruyne unsurprisingly created more chances than any other player on the pitch.
However, a home match against Crystal Palace won’t be a cakewalk for the reigning champions, especially defensively, given injuries to Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m) and perhaps Nathan Ake (£5.0m), who limped off with a groin problem on Sunday. That is why we have downgraded Joao Cancelo (£7.1m) to Kyle Walker (£5.1m) in the bus team, which in turn has enabled us to push a bit more money further forward.
Faith in Chelsea players is shaken a little by defeat and a limp display at Elland Road, so Reece James (£6.1m), Marc Cucurella (£5.1m), Raheem Sterling (£10.0m) and Mason Mount (£7.9m) may end up being overlooked, especially with Kalidou Koulibaly (£5.6m) suspended.
If we do decide to look elsewhere, there are plenty of other options.
Newcastle United are a team in form, having started the season unbeaten, so Nick Pope (£5.0m), Kieran Trippier (£5.0m), Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.4m) and Callum Wilson (£7.4m) absolutely merit mentions. Given that it was the same old story for opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers in Gameweek 3 (look sharp but fail to score), Pope and Trippier stand out.
Ivan Toney (£7.2m) is another mid-price forward nominee, and will surely be in the conversation for a forward spot. The Brentford hitman is keeping pace with the likes of Jesus and Haaland, while solid budget options like David Raya (£4.5m), Robert Sanchez (£4.5m) and Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) are alternatives if we do end up pursuing cheaper picks at the back.
THE LONG SHOTS
There are big reservations about Aston Villa players after away defeats at Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. The malaise goes back further, even, with just three wins – against Norwich City, Burnley and Everton – in their last 14 Premier League matches.
As a result, it does feel like their assets are an avoid for now, despite taking on a West Ham United side who have lost three and failed to score so far this season. That means Jarrod Bowen (£8.4m) and Michail Antonio (£7.4m) will be low down the priority list, too.
Despite some very good form, it’ll be a tough ask for any of Leandro Trossard (6.5m), Pascal Gross (£5.7m), Danny Welbeck (£6.5m), Rodrigo (£6.2m), Jack Harrison (£6.0m) or Brenden Aaronson (£5.5m) to force their way into the Scout Picks, due to both sides’ defensive organisation.
Indeed, Brighton have now kept back-to-back clean sheets against Newcastle and West Ham, while Leeds’ defensive display against Chelsea on Sunday suggests Jesse Marsch is moving the Whites’ rear-guard in the right direction.
Ongoing reservations about Manchester United under Erik ten Hag means that investment in Manchester United looks highly unlikely, despite a reasonably appealing trip to Southampton.
GAMEWEEK 4 – BUS TEAM
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