FPL season 2020-21: Gameweek 22 preview

“London derby time on Thursday night as Spurs are welcoming Chelsea to the Tottenham Stadium”. (CC by 2.0). Image by Daniel.

As has become usual this season, gameweek 21 was another bag of surprises for FPL managers around the world. First of all, of course, our sympathies to the 700-something-thousand managers who had high hopes for their City trio of Cancelo, Stones and Sterling against Burnley in GW21. Just a reminder of how real rotation is at Man City. Second of all, you were not entirely alone, as the five most transferred-in players last weekend (Calvert-Lewin, Gündogan, Cancelo, Watkins & Sterling) returned a majestic 7 FPL points between them. Of the top five captains (Bruno Fernandes, Salah, Son, Kane, Gündogan), only the Egyptian Red didn’t blank. Despite the round’s 48-point average score, it was a tough one for many of us.

The next gameweek is already upon us and all 20 Premier League clubs will be back in action during the upcoming midweek round, which arrives hot on the heels of a full weekend of Premier League action. Opening on Tuesday evening are Sheffield United and West Brom with a very real bottom-of-the-table clash. Seeing as Fulham hosts Leicester the day after, both teams will be be more than aware of the value of a potential three points. The encounter of the week takes place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where London rivals Chelsea will look to build on their decent performance against Burnley last weekend. There are also games between Manchester United and Southampton, form teams Aston Villa and West Ham, and Wolves versus Arsenal, just to name a few. Plenty to look forward to once again, though keep in mind that rotation might very well strike big again over the coming days.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 22 is set at 16h30 (UK time) on Tuesday, February 2nd.

Do check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per February 1st, 2021)

GKMcCarthy (SOU), Lloris (TOT), Ryan (BRI)Martinez (AST), Ederson (CIT), Leno (ARS)
DEFChilwell (CHE), Walker-Peters (SOU), Zouma (CHE)Dias (CIT), Cresswell (WHU), Targett (AST)Manager change at Chelsea, excellent defensive performances by City, Villa and West Ham.
MIDSon (TOT), Saka (ARS), Sterling (CIT)Salah (LIV), Grealish (AST), Gündogan (CIT)Salah back to scoring, Spurs disappointing, Sterling rotated.
FORKane (TOT), Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Lacazette (ARS)Wilson (NEW), Antonio (WHU), Bamford (LEE)Kane injury, Wilson brace, Antonio and Bamford form.

Premium pick

It’s been a bit of a massacre for the premium fantasy assets in FPL over the past few weeks. Either injuries (e.g. De Bruyne, Kane, Vardy) or largely lacking returns (e.g. Bruno Fernandes, Mané, Salah) seriously decimated the candidate pool for our premium category. After six consecutive blanks, Liverpool’s Mo Salah (£12.6m) showed a serious sign of line against West Ham over the weekend, though. The Egyptian wizard scored twice for a total of 15 FPL points and Liverpool as a whole looked pretty good against an in-form Hammers side. Though there are definitely some things Liverpool need to work on still, we do believe that their recent slump in form and results was a bit of a freak occurrence. Hopefully they can prove us right on Wednesday when Brighton visit Anfield.

Non-premium picks

Our first non-premium pick is based on a combination of undeniable quality and form as Aston Villa host West Ham on Wednesday. The home team currently sits in ninth while the visitors are up in fifth place, so this is a clash between two teams in good form. Villa star Jack Grealish (£7.7m) could be the one to make the difference in what we feel should be a tightly contested encounter. The England international has posted attacking returns in his last three gameweeks, with 1 goal and 2 assists for a total of 20 FPL points. Despite playing two games less, the Villans are amongst the top-five teams for many of the important attacking stats, including goals scored, shots on target and big chances. West Ham at home won’t be a walk in the park, but Grealish could deliver this week.

The second non-premium fantasy pick that caught our eye in the build-up to gameweek 22 is Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m). Even more than Grealish at Villa, the Ivorian forward is the principal source of offensive creativity at the Eagles. He is their top scorer with 9 goals, their joint-assist leader with 3 successful final passes, and the player with most shots in Roy Hodgson’s side. Palace are playing at Saint James’ Park in GW22 and have a rather favourable set of fixtures following that one, including home games against Fulham, Burnley and West Brom, and away games at Leeds and Brighton over the next seven rounds. Zaha was inches away from his second consecutive return against Wolves when he hit the bar and his overall form looked pretty good. Palace aren’t the most free-scoring of sides, but Zaha could be a good investment for the short and medium term.

The budget enabler

Goalkeepers are heavily under-represented in most FPL previews, including ours, but our budget-enabling fantasy pick this week stands between the sticks. Brighton’s Robert Sanchez (£4.4m) has gone a bit under the radar since becoming Graham Potter’s first-choice goalie back in gameweek 13, which explains both his more than friendly price tag and his current ownership of just 1.3%. Brighton are not a bad side, but they lack goals, which weighs on the team as a whole. At the back though, the Seagulls are really quite stable, which they managed to translate into actual results recently as well. They have not conceded a goal in the past three rounds, which has led Sanchez to collect a very nice 21 FPL points. He could represent the perfect way to free up those final £0.something million for bringing in that field player you feel is going to explode soon.

A differential pick or two

The first differential fantasy pick for gameweek 22 is Leicester forward Harvey Barnes (£6.9m), who has been on fire in recent weeks. The Englishman has recorded attacking returns in his last four games (2 goals, 2 assists), and he already has 7 goals and 3 assists to his name in the Premier League overall. The Foxes will be looking at their midfielders to make up for Jamie Vardy’s absence and Barnes seems to be stepping up. He is their highest-scoring midfielder in FPL and has a decent run of fixtures coming up, starting with Fulham at Craven Cottage this Wednesday. His ownership has been growing recently as a result of his performances, but it still sits at 7.3% at the time of writing this. We can see him growing out of differential status soon, so do consider him for your midfield if you’re looking for picks that make a difference at a kind price.

Recent weeks have been a festival of differential value in the FPL and few players have brought more differential joy than Mateus Pereira (£5.6m). It’s true that his side West Brom is possibly the worst in the league, but in theory, the Brazilian has it all: the key (attacking) role in his team, the budget price tag, the form and the fixture. In a period in which rotation and such are abundant, he could provide exceptional value, both in terms of planning, fantasy selection stability and actual real-life form. Pereira has scored 4 goals in his last four league games for a total of 39 FPL points and up next are Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. The improving Blades will be eyeing this encounter as well though, as three points here would suddenly see them back in the mix for Premier League survival. We find it hard to predict the result for this one and goals could be scarce (or abundant), but West Brom’s Pereira has the qualities to make an impact in this game.

The captaincy

With many of the usual suspects for the armband out injured or out of form, and with relatively few really clear-cut match-ups in gameweek 22 from an FPL point of view, we expect Mo Salah to be the number-one GW22 captaincy candidate this week. We have also gone with the Egyptian as he prepares for a home game against sturdy Brighton on Wednesday night. Salah finally got his name back on the score sheet in GW21 with a brace against West Ham and we hope that he’ll repeat this feat against the Seagulls this week.

If you don’t have Salah or gave up on him after six consecutive blanks, you could opt for one of the Man City boys when they roll up to Turf Moor on Wednesday. Sterling is likely to return to the starting eleven after being rested for the GW21 fixture versus Sheffield United, as are Joao Cancelo and John Stones. Either of these three feel like decent captaincy picks, seeing as City are getting back into form and can count on the league’s best defence by some distance. Riskier picks for the armband include Harvey Barnes away at Fulham, Patrick Bamford at Elland Road versus Everton, Dominic Calvert-Lewin away against Leeds, Wilfried Zaha at Saint James’ Park, and Mateus Pereira away against Sheffield United.