The quick turn-around between gameweeks 19 and 20 plus a rare and unexpected 0-pointer by Mo Salah, who was captained by just over half of all managers in the game and by 63% of the pre-GW20 Top 100, made for a low-scoring gameweek 20. With a points average of 37, it ranks among the three lowest averages of the season so far, which was also reflected in the official Team of the Week. No less than five players made the team with a single-digit haul. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel recorded the round’s highest score with 15 FPL points, thanks to a clean sheet and a Salah penalty save, followed by assist-hattrick hero Jarrod Bowen and Crystal Palace’s Odsonne Edouard (1 goal and 2 assists versus Norwich) with 14 points each.
Gameweek 21 is now DGW21 after this afternoon’s confirmation of 3 re-arranged fixtures: SOU v BRE, EVE v LEI and WHU v NOR. Due to Leicester, Southampton and Norwich having had their expected GW21 fixture postponed that leaves the following 3 clubs with two matches in the DGW: Brentford, Everton & West Ham. From a fantasy manager’s point of view, Tottenham’s visit to Watford also stands out. Southampton hosting Newcastle at Saint Mary’s has been postponed today so we’re down to 8 matches of the normal fixtures plus the 3 re-arranged fixxtures in DGW21.
As has been the case lately, try and hold out on making transfers for as long as possible, especially now that more double gameweek announcements can be made at any moment.
The Blanks Section
Seeing as corona outbreaks look like they’re here to stay for the coming weeks at least, we’ve added a temporary new section to our weekly previews to help you keep track of postponements and blanks. For DGW21, at the time of writing, two games have been postponed so far:
|GW20 blanks||(as of 31/12, 16h30)|
|Leicester v Norwich|
Southampton v Newcastle
Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 21 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, January 1st, 2022.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per December 31st, 2021)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Mendy (CHE), Ramsdale (ARS), Foster (WAT)||Schmeichel (LEI), De Gea (MUN), Snachez (BRI)|
|DEF||James (CHE), Livramento (SOU), Rüdiger (CHE)||Cancelo (MCI), Tierney (ARS), Reguilon (TOT), Dias (MCI)||James injury, Livramento doubt, City fixtures and form|
|MID||Gallagher (CRY), Salah (LIV), Bernardo (MCI)||Bowen (WHU), Son (TOT), Raphinha (LEE)||Gallagher injury doubt, Bowen form & DGW, Son form and fixtures|
|FOR||Vardy (LEI), Saint-Maximin (NEW), Ronaldo (MUN)||Antonio (WHU), Dennis (WAT), Edouard (CRY)||Vardy and ASM injuries, Edouard GW20 haul, Antonio DGW.|
For the first time this season, Mo Salah came away with exactly zero FPL points after missing a penalty against Leicester and Liverpool going down 1 to nothing at the King Power Stadium. At the same time, give 24 hours more or less, Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m) shot himself straight into the official game’s Team of the Week with a goal, an assist and 3 bonus points against Burnley. Taking into account that United’s fixtures in gameweeks 17 and 18 were postponed, the Portuguese superstar now has 4 goals and 1 assist in his last five league games, and he started each of those games. Up next are Wolves at Old Trafford and it should be noted that Bruno Lage’s men have so far conceded just 7 goals in nine games on the road. Overall, their 14 goals conceded rank second in the entire league, just two more than Manchester City. Man United are the favourite here nonetheless, especially with Ronaldo in good goal-scoring form, and we hope that they will be able to build on the 17 goals they have already scored in nine home games this season. Due to the recently announced DGW for West Ham, Antonio (owned by 37%) at £7.8m is going to be in demand with an away match on Saturday 1st at Crystal Palace followed by a home match on Wednesday 12th to Norwich.
There is a small, a very small fantasy upside to fixture postponements, provided that any affected player you own is physically fine (of course, we hope that every player is fine always, but hear us out), namely that it can provide players with an unexpected rest during a crazy busy festive period. One player in such a situation in GW21 could be Raphinha (£6.5m) after the Leeds – Aston Villa game was postponed in GW20, following the postponement of Liverpool – Leeds in GW19. In other words, Leeds have not played a competitive league game since their 1-4 thumping at the hands of Arsenal back in GW18, on December 18th. The Whites are now up against Burnley who went down to United at Old Trafford on Thursday night. The Clarets have conceded 24 goals so far this season, which in all honesty is equals mid-table at the moment, but they will be missing their first-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope against Leeds. As far as Raphinha goes, he’s got 3 goals and 1 assist from his last five league games, he is their best player and main creative outlet by some distance, and he’s on penalties as well. In what could end up being a tough weekend in FPL, the Brazilian could be a very shrewd signing. West Ham’s Bowen will also now be a popular pick for his DGW.
The budget enabler
In a time when your bench is more important than ever, a good, playing budget enabler can make all the difference in the world. That’s why the return to fitness and to the starting eleven of Ben Johnson (£4.0m) is such good news. The versatile West Ham fullback put in a decent shift against Watford, though he did not come away with a return. Since his emergence in David Moyes’ starting eleven back in gameweek 8, he featured in every game until injury hit in GW15. Over that run, he recorded 28 FPL points, courtesy of 2 clean sheets and a bonus point. Not bad for a 4.0m-priced fullback playing for a good side that has a favourable run of fixtures coming up, starting with Crystal Palace away and Leeds at home. With Aaron Cresswell out for the foreseeable future, Johnson is an ideal budget-enabling fantasy pick and has the newly announced DGW.
Off the back of a few more than decent performances and with Mo Salah due to depart for the AFCON very soon, Kevin de Bruyne (£11.9) has all the makings of becoming the next big bandwagon. For the first time this season, the Belgian has managed to perform at levels we were used to from him for an extended run of games after a first half of the season riddled with injury niggles. He’s got 3 goals and 1 assist in his last four league outings, and he started for the Cityzens in those games as well. That’s good news, but in the case of Man City, potentially bad as well, because in theory, it puts KDB higher and higher on Pep’s rotation list. Then again, this is and has been since a long time the main downside of picking Man City fantasy assets. What we’re seeing mainly, is one of the best midfielders in the world sitting in just 4.7% of all teams with a good run of fixtures coming up. Bringing him in now, before the away game at Arsenal and the home clash with Chelsea, could put you in the next bandwagon’s driver’s seat. Due to the newly announced DGW for West Ham, Everton & Brentford there will be moves to bring in players from these clubs (particuarly the WHU & EVE).
The DGW21 captaincy debate this weekend has been thrown up in the air after the DGW announcement and most likely Antonio or Bowen of West Ham will be the main candidates unless you want to take a punt on an Everton player (such as Gray or DCL returning from injury) or a Brentford player.
Spurs also offer two interesting captaincy options in the persons of Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane as Spurs take on Watford at Vicarage Road. Antonio Conte’s men are picking up some form and both of the team’s star players are looking more dangerous as well. More differential options for the armband this weekend are penalty-taker Raphinha at home against Burnley and set-piece maestro James Ward-Prowse for Southampton’s home encounter with Newcastle.