The best Fantasy Premier League (FPL) goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards for Gameweek 34 are debated by our regular panel.
ABOUT THE SCOUT SQUAD
Fantasy Football Scout contributors Sam, Neale, Tom and FPL Partridge (who is in for the ill Az) each propose an 18-man squad of Fantasy players with the focus solely on the upcoming Gameweek.
Their selections serve as a long list for the Scout Picks, as the players nominated will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83.5m) for our final weekly selection ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
Each writer must meet the following requirements:
READ MORE: Our initial Scout Picks ‘bus team’ for Gameweek 34
SCOUT SQUAD’S PICK OF THE BEST FPL PLAYERS FOR GAMEWEEK 34
Most popular picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo, Mohamed Salah, Teemu Pukki, Timo Werner (four), Nick Pope, Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo (three)
FPL PARTRIDGE SAID…
Despite the Double Gameweeks for Chelsea and Manchester United, I don’t think there are a lot of standout options with two fixtures.
With Aston Villa scoring just two goals in their last four matches, I’m backing Kasper Schmeichel to keep a clean sheet against the Villans this weekend. At least we know he’s rotation-proof, too, amidst mass changes elsewhere in the Leicester side.
An inconsistent Southampton could struggle against a Brighton side looking to build on their recent wins over Arsenal and Spurs, as well as two clean sheets from their last four.
Over the last four Gameweeks, Norwich have conceded 12 headed goal attempts, second only to Leicester, despite playing just three times over that period. Dan Burn’s five efforts, three from headers, over the same timeframe, make him a tempting punt in defence.
Since coming back into the side, Marcos Alonso has been a major attacking threat for Chelsea. With Reece James not yet back to full form and Antonio Rudiger struggling with injury, the left-back has the ability to score highly against West Ham and a struggling Manchester United.
Mason Mount has already shown his potential for high-ceiling scores this season with five double-digit hauls, two of those coming in the last five matches. If he plays in both fixtures in Gameweek 34, it’s hard to back against him picking up a return or two.
Will Raheem Sterling feature against Watford after a midweek benching? We can never be 100% sure with Pep Guardiola but his record against the Hornets is fantastic, blanking just once in eight appearances and averaging 9.88 points per match. At just 2.4% ownership, if we get an inkling that he could start, he’d be hard to ignore.
Although Spurs have kept three clean sheets in their last four away matches, Ivan Toney has scored in each of his last four starts at home and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on the scoresheet in Gameweek 34. Brentford have found the net on 14 occasions in the last six Gameweeks – only two clubs can better that.
Double Gameweeks normally form the key focus of FPL managers’ attention. However, with Manchester United’s current form I feel wary of investing. I considered Cristiano Ronaldo but his personal situation concerned me, so I will be concentrating on Chelsea assets ahead of their double.
Reece James and Antonio Rudiger are normally my go-to Chelsea assets but with James spending 60 minutes of their Gameweek 33 fixture playing at centre-back and Rudiger missing out with injury, I have plumped for Marcus Alonso. Chelsea are not regularly keeping clean sheets and therefore the potential upside of Alonso’s attacking threat is appealing.
I have selected a lot of attack-minded defenders elsewhere. Joao Cancelo, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sergio Reguilon all have attack-focused positions on the field, while Fabian Schar‘s set-piece threat increases his appeal.
Mohamed Salah’s 19-point haul in Gameweek 33 means that I wouldn’t go into this Gameweek without him. His underlying stats have been good since the Africa Cup of Nations but he hadn’t been banking the points as we would have hoped – until Tuesday. The Egyptian has returned in two of the last three Merseyside derbies, too, including 15 points in the reverse of this fixture earlier on in the season. With Liverpool needing to win every match to stay in the hunt for the title, Salah remains an important asset to own. I would pair him with teammate Diogo Jota, who was the only one of the fit-and-available Liverpool attacking assets not to return in Gameweek 33 and as he only played 20 minutes, I expect him to start against Everton. The Portugal international has returned in four of his six meetings with the Toffees in the Premier League, to boot.
Mason Mount is my choice from the Chelsea midfield. He has returned in Chelsea’s last two Premier League matches and he is top across the Blues team for expected assists (xA), expected goal involvement (xGI), goals and assists this season. Mount has also returned in two of the last three meetings between Chelsea and West Ham, including a 13-point haul in the reverse of this fixture.
Like Mount, Timo Werner has found good form in recent weeks and is delivering both home and abroad in this new 3-4-1-2 set-up. The German is top for goal attempts and big chances among the Chelsea squad in the last four matches, too.
Spurs will need to bounce back against Brentford in Gameweek 33 if they want to finish in the top four. Harry Kane is top for attacking returns amongst forwards in the last four Gameweeks with seven, while his 102 goal attempts this season is a league-leading total and he is the top-scoring forward for xGI in 2021/22.
I also really like the Teemu Pukki pick this week. The Finn has now returned in five of the last six Gameweeks and he is second for xA and third for xGI amongst forwards in that timeframe. Only Kane and Richarlison have had more shots on goal than the Norwich man in the last six Gameweeks and no forward has a better minute-per-touch number than Pukki over this period.
A Double Gameweek against West Ham United and Manchester United sees Chelsea assets take the top spot in each of the three outfield categories. The fixtures might not seem the easiest on paper, but the Hammers may well have one eye on their Europa League semi-final, while the Red Devils’ shoddy defensive displays over the past week lead me to an attacking double-up, via Mason Mount and Timo Werner. The German made it seven attacking returns in four league and cup matches on Wednesday, while Mount will benefit greatly from his movement and ability to create space in the final third.
Marcos Alonso, meanwhile, has delivered several good performances of late, hauling against Southampton and only being denied a goal at the Bernabeu after VAR intervention. He registered another five shots against Arsenal in midweek, and although it is a bit of a risk with Saul Niguez and Malang Sarr lurking, I think it could be worth it given the obvious upside. Reece James is an alternative option here who I do like, but if the centre-half experiment continues it will reduce his attacking output.
With arguably the standout fixture of the round, I’m also backing Manchester City. Midweek minutes suggest Raheem Sterling is a likelier starter against Watford and over the last six matches is only just behind Kevin De Bruyne for non-penalty xGI. And Joao Cancelo’s Champions League ban only boosts his chance of starting against the Hornets, especially in light of injuries to positional rivals Kyle Walker and John Stones.
Liverpool have now won 11 consecutive top-flight home games, are unbeaten in the league at Anfield all season and now take on an Everton side with the division’s worst away record. As a result, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah’s inclusion feels like a bit of a no-brainer, even with a Champions League tie against Villarreal to follow a few days later.
Since Antonio Conte first took charge of Tottenham Hotspur in Gameweek 11, Spurs wing-backs have dominated the xGI tables among sub-£6.0m defenders, and I fancy Emerson Royal for this fixture. Brentford have won five of their last six and are sitting pretty in third in the six-match form table, but they also allow plenty of crosses from their left flank, which should benefit the Brazilian on Saturday evening.
Savings will be needed with so many premium options selected, which is why I’ve turned to Brighton and Hove Albion and Norwich City, who both look good for bargain hunting this week. Robert Sanchez and Tariq Lamptey look like decent budget picks at the back against a Southampton side who will have been away at Burnley less than 72 hours before kick-off at the Amex, while Teemu Pukki has produced six returns in as many matches.
With Antonio Rudiger carrying an injury, Chelsea leaking goals at Stamford Bridge and concern over game-time for a number of potential targets, the Blues’ Double Gameweek 34 might not be the points bonanza we were hoping for.
With rotation a likelihood in the run-in, perhaps it’s better to think of Chelsea players less in terms of having ‘doubles’ and accept we might get, say, five out of seven starts between now and the end of the campaign, which still averages out at one per Gameweek. The question is then whether you’d back these players on a normal frequency of games over others.
Kai Havertz comes out very favourably when we run a stats check on the German: for starters, no other midfielder can better his expected goal involvement (xGI) figure over the last six matches when we take penalties out of the equation. Benched against Arsenal in midweek as Romelu Lukaku toiled again up top, he looks the best bet of the Chelsea attackers for a pair of starts in Gameweek 34. There is a bit of concern over Thomas Tuchel’s recent formation tweak, which Stevie writes about excellently here, but Havertz nevertheless racked up six shots in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, so I think the jury is still out for now on whether it damages his attacking appeal to the point of him being a no-go.
That change to a 3-4-1-2 has, unquestionably, initially benefitted a more central Timo Werner. He’s racked up a remarkable 23 penalty box touches in the last two Gameweeks and has been involved in seven attacking returns in his last four starts in league and cup. The concern now is over minutes in Gameweek 34, but as mentioned above, is Werner producing good enough form and underlying numbers to get points out of at least one-and-a-bit games against the porous backlines of West Ham and Manchester United? I’d say so.
Marcos Alonso is producing some eye-popping numbers at the back but I’ve kept faith with Reece James for now. Playing at centre-half has killed his attacking output (zero chances created or shots against Arsenal) but it conversely makes him likelier to string together successive starts and hasn’t damaged his bonus points (BPS) potential: he was top for baseline BPS on Wednesday so if Chelsea do keep a clean sheet, he can still supplement his shut-out points. He’ll surely feature at wing-back at some point again soon, perhaps even moved forward during a game (as happened against the Gunners, when he whipped in a dangerous ball late on), so I don’t think all is lost yet.
As for the ‘other’ team who double, I’ve gone with Cristiano Ronaldo and said to heck with the rest. Arsenal and Chelsea are not the formidable defences they were earlier in the campaign, so Ronaldo – who can’t be beaten for non-penalty xGI by any forward over his last six matches – could easily grab a goal or two in Gameweek 34.
Level with Ronaldo for said xGI figure is Teemu Pukki, a much-derided individual who has quietly gone about delivering six attacking returns in as many matches. Having ‘something to play for’™ and a regular 90-minute man, Pukki is someone I could see prospering against Newcastle this weekend. The Magpies are much improved of late but come into this match off the back of a three-game week and are now home and dry on the magic 40-point mark, so I think there could be a bit of a hangover from their recent exploits. Eddie Howe’s troops have also lost their last three matches on the road although with Norwich still conceding goals of every variety (actual and expected), the visitors could easily find the net at Carrow Road. Not content with the success of backing one goal-shy Newcastle midfielder in the form of Bruno Guimaraes in Gameweek 33, I’m doubling down with Miguel Almiron here – he was the Magpies’ biggest threat by some distance on Wednesday and attempted an impressive seven shots against Crystal Palace.
Manchester City’s back four may pick itself given the litany of injuries that the reigning champions are carrying, which is handy indeed for the visit of a Championship-bound Watford side. Raheem Sterling makes the cut alongside Joao Cancelo and Aymeric Laporte, while Diogo Jota accompanies Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold in a Liverpool triple-up. Jota and Sterling are included here as short-term punts: both were rested in midweek and I’ve taken the liberty to assume that Riyad Mahrez and Luis Diaz start for their respective clubs in the Champions League next week, as they have been recently, so I’m quietly confident of starts for my nominated differential midfielders, who both average over 6.0 points per match when they do make the line-up.
Palace’s dismal post-Wembley showing at Newcastle will surely lead to a rocket up the backside from Patrick Vieira, and the result would surely only benefit Jean-Philippe Mateta after his teammates laboured without him. The Eagles’ recent defensive form is also excellent at Selhurst Park, with the might of Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City able to muster only one goal between them in recent visits to south London.
Brighton, meanwhile, have looked much better defensively in their last three matches since a change in shape. Marc Cucurella is a BPS magnet who has collected more bonus points this season than all bar four defenders, all of whom are much more expensive, so I fancy him to haul even at centre-half.
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