Which Fantasy Premier League (FPL) options will make the weekly Scout Picks for Gameweek 21?
That’s what our in-house team of Sam, Marc (in for the holidaying Az), Tom and Neale are debating in this Scout Squad article.
In this feature, our panelists each put together an 18-man player longlist ahead of the upcoming Gameweek – with various stipulations, as detailed in the next section.
These selections will go a long way toward deciding the final Scout Picks, with the FPL assets receiving the most votes in with a better chance of making the cut.
ABOUT THE SCOUT SQUAD
Our four resident writers are solely focused on the upcoming Gameweek with their selections. Anything outside of this window, we cover in the Watchlist.
The players who get the most votes are much more likely to make the Scout Picks, although the final XI can’t exceed £83.0m – so occasionally, cheaper alternatives have to be found.
Each of our writers must meet the following requirements for this feature:
- At least one sub-£5.0m goalkeeper
- At least one sub-£5.0m defender
- At least one sub-£6.0m midfielder
- At least one sub-£7.0m forward
- No more than three players from the same club
SCOUT SQUAD’S PICK OF THE BEST FPL PLAYERS FOR GAMEWEEK 21
|GK||Nick Pope||Nick Pope||Nick Pope||Ederson|
|Ederson||Ederson||Lukasz Fabianski||Wayne Hennessey|
|Kepa Arrizabalaga||Wayne Hennessey||Robert Sanchez||Lukasz Fabianski|
|DEF||Kieran Trippier||Kieran Trippier||Kieran Trippier||Kieran Trippier|
|Levi Colwill||Alex Moreno||John Stones||Fabian Schar|
|Sven Botman||Serge Aurier||Serge Aurier||Pervis Estupinan|
|Matt Doherty||Matt Doherty||Aaron Cresswell||Serge Aurier|
|Serge Aurier||Pervis Estupinan||Pervis Estupinan||Ben White|
|MID||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne||Mohamed Salah|
|Kaoru Mitoma||Kaoru Mitoma||Mohamed Salah||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Martin Odegaard||Bukayo Saka||Solly March||Martin Odegaard|
|Marcus Rashford||Miguel Almiron||Morgan Gibbs-White||Kaoru Mitoma|
|Emi Buendia||Jarrod Bowen||Jarrod Bowen||Morgan Gibbs-White|
|FWD||Erling Haaland||Erling Haaland||Erling Haaland||Erling Haaland|
|Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Ivan Toney|
|Evan Ferguson||Ivan Toney||Ivan Toney||Aleksandar Mitrovic|
|Ivan Toney||Brennan Johnson||Aleksandar Mitrovic||Harry Kane|
|Che Adams||Wilfried Gnonto||Wilfried Gnonto||Wilfried Gnonto|
Most popular picks: Kieran Trippier, Serge Aurier, Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, Ivan Toney, Harry Kane (four), Ederson, Nick Pope, Pervis Estupinan, Kaoru Mitoma, Wilfried Gnonto (three)
This week’s fixtures make the Gameweek 21 Scout Squad picks difficult, especially in defence.
Newcastle United face Crystal Palace on the back of five consecutive clean sheets and I have therefore chosen to triple up on their defence, especially as Palace were one worldie free-kick away from going three matches without a goal. Indeed, they have only scored four times during their last seven Premier League appearances, against relegation strugglers Bournemouth and West Ham United. Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier and Sven Botman all look like excellent picks as a consequence.
On paper, Manchester City should also keep a clean sheet against Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, with the likes of Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte back from injury to further complicate rotation, it’s hard to know which defenders will be selected. At least Ederson almost guarantees a start in Pep’s starting XI, making him a good goalkeeper option in a week where shut-outs look hard to come by.
I have also kept the faith with Kepa Arrizabalaga because Liverpool tend to struggle in early kick-offs and have several key injuries. Although the Reds have had 59 attempts since the restart – which only Chelsea and Arsenal have bettered – they have only converted six of these into goals. If this trend continues, Kepa has a good chance of save points and a clean sheet. Reece James and Ben Chilwell being back in training could also bring a boost to their defence, should one or both of them take part.
Alongside Trippier and Botman, my defensive picks all offer great value for money. Brighton and Hove Albion successfully shut out Liverpool in Gameweek 20, bringing two bonus points to the same Levi Colwill that has started every match since Gameweek 16. Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, have back-to-back clean sheets, with Serge Aurier collecting two bonus points both times. They visit Bournemouth next, a side that has failed to score since Gameweek 15.
Kevin De Bruyne delivered four goals and 24 points against Wolves last May, so I would double up on the Man City attack via him and Erling Haaland.
I would pick two Brighton attackers, as well. Kaoru Mitoma and Evan Ferguson have been in exceptional form for the Seagulls in recent weeks, with both returning in three successive outings and totalling 21 points. These budget enablers can be great differentials, with Mitoma owned by 1.7 per cent of managers and Ferguson just 1.4 per cent.
Marcus Rashford and Martin Odegaard go up against each other this weekend but, with both competing in a title race, I think Arsenal and Manchester United goals look likely.
Finally, Emiliano Buendia gets to have a go at the leaky Southampton defence, following two double-digit hauls during the last three matches.
Alongside Haaland and Ferguson up front is Harry Kane. The Spurs forward has scored 45 goals against London clubs, including one against opponents Fulham back in Gameweek 6. In that match, Kane also picked up all three bonus points. He ranks first for both threat and creativity amongst FPL forwards in the ICT Index.
Ivan Toney returned from injury in Gameweek 20 and once again wore his shooting boots. He has at least one goal in each of his last four Premier League matches. Likewise, Che Adams has one goal and three assists in five under Nathan Jones. He is averaging 5.2 points per match since Gameweek 16, much better than the 3.2 of the opening 15 rounds. He has also had a team-leading eight shots in the box during this period, with three big chances – the same as James Ward-Prowse. Opponents Aston Villa have conceded 14 big chances in the last four Gameweeks, the second-most in the league.
Arsenal taking on Manchester United makes these picks difficult, as a normal Gameweek would see several players from both sides in Scout Picks contention – but this one is a hard game to predict, and only Bukayo Saka gets the nod from me here.
At the back, both Newcastle United – Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope from the Magpies, as usual – and Nottingham Forest are backed with two names. Wayne Hennessey will step in for injured goalkeeper Dean Henderson for Steve Cooper’s side, while Serge Aurier has 26 points from his last three outings. Forest have kept two clean sheets on the spin, and five shut-outs in their last nine games.
The selection of Matt Doherty (who hopefully will be over his reported sickness come Monday night) is based more on his attacking potential rather than a sudden trusting of Spurs and it’s a similar story for fellow forward-minded full-backs Pervis Estupinan and Alex Moreno. Picking Gameweek 21 clean sheets isn’t easy!
Not for the first time, there’s a Manchester City trio of Ederson, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland. Not only did the Belgian maestro bag two assists and ten points in Gameweek 8’s reverse fixture but he also scored an incredible four goals past Wolverhampton Wanderers last May.
It may almost be time to cash in on Miguel Almiron but this individual fixture at Crystal Palace still looks good, while Jarrod Bowen is backed to save his manager David Moyes by succeeding against Everton: the Toffees have the joint-worst defensive record for clean sheets and goals conceded since the restart. Brighton and Hove Albion’s Kaoru Mitoma has been a revelation since entering the starting line-up and Leandro Trossard’s imminent departure should only strengthen his FPL appeal. On two goals since the festive resumption, he is about to face a Leicester City side who have lost four games on the bounce since the World Cup.
Up front, the ever-reliable Harry Kane should find joy against Fulham. The Cottagers almost secured a fifth clean sheet from ten matches until conceding late at Newcastle, yet it masks the fact they’ve conceded this season’s most shots on target, big chances and expected goals (xG).
I was already going to back Wilfried Gnonto before his FA Cup haul – honest! He’s looked fantastic for Leeds United and comes at a £5.0m price that both inherits a good fixture run and allows the squad depth of a strong five-man midfield. Ivan Toney has scored in his last four league matches and now comes up against Gnonto’s leaky Leeds, whilst Brennan Johnson hopes to inflict a ninth defeat in ten matches for Bournemouth.
I have to say this was one of the most challenging Scout Squad submissions to put together this season, particularly at the back.
So, let’s start in defence, where I have put most of my trust in Newcastle. Eddie Howe’s side face a Crystal Palace outfit that have scored just three goals in their five matches since the World Cup and are currently inside the Premier League’s bottom two for minutes per xG, hence my inclusion of Nick Pope and bonus magnet Kieran Trippier.
Beyond them and Man City’s John Stones, it gets much trickier. Leicester and Everton have also struggled for goals from Gameweek 17 onwards, with one/four respectively, which is why I fancy Brighton and West Ham’s defences just about enough to double up. Aaron Cresswell is the one I am most excited by – that’s because the Toffees have conceded more chances down their right flank than any other side bar Leicester and Spurs in the last four Gameweeks, while no team has given up more headed attempts across the season.
Serge Aurier, meanwhile, has secured bonus in four of his last five matches, a period which has seen Nottingham Forest impress, keeping three clean sheets. Team-mate Morgan Gibbs-White joins him as one of my differential picks in midfield.
Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are virtually auto-inclusions in Gameweek 21, considering Man City host Wolves. The visitors have shown signs of improvement under Julen Lopetegui but I don’t see them stopping De Bruyne and Haaland, who sit first for xA/xG respectively in home matches in 2022/23.
Harry Kane is my only Spurs selection for this next round of Scout Squad submissions as Fulham have looked really good since the World Cup. Their attack has been really strong, which has me convinced they can find the net at Craven Cottage, hence my Aleksandar Mitrovic pick. Kane still gets the nod, however, as I see him as the most likely to break the hosts down, considering he has scored more goals than any other player on the road this season.
Liverpool will have a point to prove at Anfield on Saturday and looked much better with Naby Keita, Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago in midfield against Wolves in the FA Cup. I’m also counting on Darwin Nunez returning from injury, as I feel he can create the necessary space for Mohamed Salah to thrive against an inconsistent Chelsea side.
Elsewhere, I’ve opted for Solly March over Kaoru Mitoma after my chat with Joe earlier this week. And even though there is ongoing (medium-term) uncertainty surrounding Ivan Toney, I have included him nonetheless. Leeds’ defence is poor, with 17 big chances conceded since the restart.
Operation Target Bournemouth continues apace, with Gary O’Neil’s side now even deprived of Dominic Solanke’s services in their battle to end a four-game goalless streak. It’s an improving Nottingham Forest’s turn to face the freefalling Cherries, who have allowed – amongst other things – the most set-play attempts in the division this season. Enter the corner-taking Morgan Gibbs-White, who I was waxing lyrical about in an earlier Scout Notes. I’m afraid I’m buying into the Serge Aurier love, too, with Forest’s relative lack of goals at the other end of the pitch a further boon to the BPS-point magnet as there are fewer team-mates tussling for those score-boosting bonus points.
A weakness at dead-ball situations is also something that has followed Crystal Palace around for a couple of seasons, and they have the league’s worst expected goals conceded (xGC) tally from set plays in 2022/23. A match made in heaven for not just Kieran Trippier but also Fabian Schar? The Swiss stopper has had more attempts from set-piece situations than any other FPL defender in the current campaign.
I’ve seen many a Fantasy manager deterred by the magnitude of Arsenal’s fixture this weekend, and understandably so. But they’ve literally just prevented Spurs and Newcastle from scoring without much fuss, while the way the Gunners carved open their north-London rivals in the first half last weekend means I retain faith that Martin Odegaard can continue his excellent output against a Casemiro-less Manchester United in Gameweek 21. And yes, I do remember what happened when Scott McTominay last met Arsenal.
I fancy goals aplenty when Brentford and Leeds meet on Sunday: there have been a whopping 14 in their three previous Premier League clashes over the last 13 months. I’m putting money on Watchlist-dodger Ivan Toney making the Scout Picks after his hat-trick in the reverse fixture, while new Fantasy cult favourite Wilfried Gnonto has been a revelation in league and cup in early January.
On the subject of hipster choices, I’ve gone for Kaoru Mitoma over Solly March as my route into a Brighton attack that has scored more goals than any other Premier League team over the last three months. Mitoma has had five big chances to March’s one since the Boxing Day restart, while Albion’s Gameweek 21 opponents Leicester have allowed more opportunities to be created from their right flank (ie Mitoma’s side) than any other team in the last four Gameweeks.