FPL Season 2020-21: Gameweek 23 preview

“Big game alert on Sunday: Liverpool v Manchester City at Anfield” (CC by 4.0). Image by Yurificacion.

Gameweek 23 already. The Premier League moved fast over the past week and a half with four gameweeks in about 12 days. We saw plenty of rotation, several high-profile injuries, and some serious form fluctuations, and you can count on more of this when GW23 kicks off just 40 hours after gameweek 22’s final kick-off. After that though, teams (and FPL managers alike, of course) will finally get a bit of a breather until gameweek 24.

Back to the upcoming round of fixtures. This weekend presents us with a couple of big clashes, the most eye-catching one being the encounter between an out-of-sorts Liverpool and very much NOT out-of-sorts Manchester City at Anfield. One day earlier, Manchester United host Everton, while Arsenal visit Villa Park for what surely be very two very tightly contested matches. From an FPL point of view, the away game of Chelsea at seemingly improving Sheffield United and Tottenham’s home game against struggling West Bromwich Albion will surely attract a lot of FPL manager suitors.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 23 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, February 6th.

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 4th, 2021)

GKLeno (ARS), McCarthy (SOU), Pickford (EVE)Martinez (AST), Mendy (CHE), Pope (BUR)
DEFBednarek (SOU), Tierney (ARS), Saïss (WOL)Wan-Bissaka (UTD), Shaw (UTD), Dias (CIT)Transferred-out defenders are all injured or suspended, the Manchester teams are in good form.
MIDZaha (CRY), Foden (CIT), Salah (LIV)Lingard (WHU), Soucek (WHU), Fernandes (UTD)Zaha injury doubt, Foden rotation, Liverpool unreliable, West Ham and United had a good GW22.
FORKane (TOT), Firmino (LIV), Calvert-Lewin (EVE)Antonio (WHU), Wilson (NEW), Bamford (LEE)Kane injury, Firmino lack of returns, transferred-in forwards providing excellent value.

Premium pick

Another 9-0 victory looks unlikely, but you can be sure that confidence is soaring at Manchester United at the moment. After a home defeat against lowly Sheffield United and a disappointing draw versus Arsenal, the Red Devils seemed a bit down, but they returned to their winning ways in devastating style. Their thrashing of Southampton on Tuesday also meant the first returns for Bruno Fernandes (£11.4m) since GW19 and his first goal since GW17. At the same time, his 17-point haul, courtesy of 1 goal, 2 assists and 3 bonus points, was also his ninth double-digit haul of the 2020-21 campaign and it made him the official game’s highest-scoring player once again. A powerful reminder for the 42.9% of FPL managers who still don’t own him. They are facing an Everton fresh of a hard-fought away victory over Leeds, but Fernandes can still very well deliver big at Old Trafford.

Non-premium picks

Looking back at the past 22 gameweeks, plenty of very good bargain performers have emerged, with Patrick Bamford (£6.6m) probably topping the bunch. The Leeds forward started the season at £5.5m and has made a complete mockery of that price tag by scoring 11 goals and assisting another 8 in 21 Premier League games. Over the last two games, against Leicester at the King Power and Everton at Elland Road, Bamfy has recorded 20 FPL points, courtesy of 1 goal and 3 assists. Up next are Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace who have been in decent form themselves of late, but it doesn’t really matter. Leeds will attack with abandon regardless of the opposition and Bamford will get chances to add to his already impressive tallies.

In Wednesday’s battle at Villa Park between two of the biggest surprises this season, Aston Villa and West Ham United, it was the away side who got away with a deserved victory. The Hammers were a bit unlucky to concede a goal, though it wasn’t undeserved for Villa either, which meant that Aaron Cresswell (£5.6m) could not add a eighth clean sheet to his total for the season. Still, the West Ham defender currently tops the ranking for FPL points scored by a defender, thanks to no less than 8 assists and 11 bonus points on top of his 7 clean sheets. The Hammers are playing Fulham at Craven Cottage next, where the home team have scored just a single goal in their last five games.

The budget enabler

Burnley’s schedule has brightened up a bit after a difficult run of six fixtures from which they nevertheless took 6 points and in which they conceded 8 goals. It should be noted that this run consisted of encounters with United, West Ham, Liverpool, Villa, Chelsea and City. The Clarets face Brighton (home), Crystal Palace (away) and West Brom (home) next though, which brings their right-back right Matt Lowton (£4.4m) into the picture. The 31-year old is a fixed starter under Sean Dyche and already has been part of 6 clean sheets in the Premier League this season. At his current price tag and with an ownership of just 1.4%, he could be a very shrewd addition to your team.

A differential pick or two

Speaking of shrewd additions, how about Leeds United’s Raphinha (£5.3m)? It’s rather incredible that a very budget-priced midfielder who plays as a starter and a winger in the league’s most attacking side is still owned by just 1.3%. Especially when considering that he is on corner duties from the right and has scored 2 goals and 2 assists in his last three games for a total of 27 FPL points. That’s an average of 9 points per game, and those three games saw the Whites face Newcastle, Leicester (both away) and Everton. Is he perhaps only available in our version of the Fantasy Premier League? We’re not sure, but the Brazilian should definitely be on your watch lists.

In many aspects, the same goes for our second differential fantasy pick for gameweek 23. Eberechi Eze (£5.8) is a little bit more expensive than Raphinha, and his team is a lot less attacking than Leeds is, but he is still a differential pick with a high ceiling. He has played himself into Roy Hodgson’s starting eleven at Crystal Palace, and has rewarded his manager with 3 goals and 4 assists so far. He returned in his last two games, at home against Wolves (1 goal, 11 FPL points) and away at Saint James’ Park (1 assist, 7 FPL points), is in charge of plenty of set-pieces, and visits Elland Road next. Whether the Eagles will take the three points back home remains to be seen, but teams get plenty of opportunities against Leeds and so will Palace.

For more FPL GW23 transfer pick ideas, check out the dedicated FISO forum topic.

The captaincy

After his ninth double-digit haul of the season, we have decided to put the captain’s armband on Bruno Fernandes for his upcoming home game against Everton. The Portuguese playmaker has been a bit quieter in terms of FPL returns since Pogba entered the starting eleven, but he reminded us this week just why he is considered a practically essential FPL asset at the moment. Like his side, he can explode at any moment, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them put a few past the Toffees at Old Trafford coming Saturday.

If you’re not entirely convinced by Bruno or possibly don’t have the funds to bring him in, then worry not. With Heung-Min Son at home to West Brom, Raheem Sterling at Anfield and even Mo Salah against City, there are some other good options as well. In the more differential bracket, you could opt for Patrick Bamford at home against Crystal Palace, Michail Antonio away at Craven Cottage, or Callum Wilson at home against a severely weakened So’ton side low on confidence.