Despite the absence of popular demand, the Scout Picks ‘bus team’ trundles into the depot ahead of Double Gameweek 34 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
In this early selection, we select a first draft of our regular picks before they are finalised and published much closer to Saturday’s deadline.
Plenty can change between now and then, with three more Gameweek 33 fixtures and a whole host of press conferences still to come this week.
But in the meantime, this ‘bus team’ article – a term coined by the duo behind the Always Cheating podcast – will discuss the players who are likely to be in the running.
As ever, we are handcuffed by certain restrictions:
- An £83.0m budget for our starting XI
- An overall squad limit of £100.0m
- No more than three players per team
GAMEWEEK 34 FIXTURES
A screenshot of the Gameweek 34 fixtures, sorted by ‘difficulty’ on our Season Ticker
THE LIKELY LADS
There’s no escaping the inevitability that players from the two Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion are going to dominate the Scout Picks and many Free Hit teams, most of which will have a larger budget to play with than our £100.0m.
Handily for us, the Seagulls offer plenty of cash-freeing gems that are more than just bench fodder.
Solly March (£5.2m) and Kaoru Mitoma (£5.6m) are leading the charge, although there are more of their team-mates also competing for inclusion (see the section below).
After four successive away league games, Brighton are back on home soil twice in Gameweek 32. Mitoma and March have amassed 11 attacking returns between them in the Seagulls’ last six matches at the Amex, registering a combined 86 points.
Only Arsenal and Manchester City are carving out expected goals (xG) at a quicker rate than Brighton since Roberto De Zerbi took charge, with Mitoma and March almost identical for non-penalty expected goal involvement (NPxGI) in that time:
|Mins per NPxGI under De Zerbi|
More on Albion’s World Cup winner in a bit.
Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) and Erling Haaland (£12.3m) eat up a quarter of our squad budget, and one of them will be a very expensive non-captain in Gameweek 33. But even we’ve managed to cobble together a very competitive XV including both players on our meagre £100.0m budget, so there are few reasons to overlook the season’s top two for NPxGI.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m), flourishing in his ‘inverted full-back’ role and back delivering the sorts of creative numbers we’ve come to expect from him, joins Salah in the provisional picks, but there has to be a big asterisk next to any Liverpool player’s name with a Sunday-Wednesday-Satuday schedule and Jurgen Klopp’s threat of rotation.
Still, the Reds are on home soil twice, where they have only tasted defeat once in their last 38 league games. Klopp’s troops are scoring at a rate of 2.6 goals per match on their own turf in 2022/23, so even if our key Liverpool assets only get one-and-a-bit games over the Double Gameweek, there’s a wide enough window for sufficient damage to be done.
We’ve not factored Marcus Rashford (£7.1m) into our FPL thinking for some time, his last appearance (ahead of Thursday’s trip to Spurs) coming in Gameweek 30 almost three weeks ago. It’s time to renew acquaintances with the England international, who has averaged 7.6 points per start since returning from the World Cup with a spring in his step – that’s a better figure than anyone else mentioned in this article.
The rest of this article is completely free to read but requires a Fantasy Football Scout user account for access – you can get yours at no cost here.
Note: All stats in this article were correct before the Gameweek 33 fixtures on Thursday