FPL Season 2021/22: Gameweek 23 preview

For the majority of FPL managers, labelling double gameweek 22 as a disappointment would likely feel like an understatement. Between last-minute postponements and popular assets not delivering at all, the double gameweek was an underwhelming and at times frustrating one. Apart from the heavily owned Joan Cancelo, the official game’s Team of the Week featured just two players with an ownership above 5.8% overall, those being Bruno Fernandes (23 FPL points, owned by 18.7%) and Harry Kane (11 points, 13.2%). As a matter of fact, no less than five players represented an ownership of less than 1.5%, which hints at the very much differential nature of the past gameweek.

As far as GW23 is concerned, no fixture adjustments have been announced as of yet. COVID-19 is, of course, an ever-present and entirely unpredictable factor, but there have been rumours of some this season’s earlier postponements being moved to gameweek 23, making it another double gameweek for at least a few teams. Fixture experts like Ben Crellin (@BenCrellin on Twitter) are considering this possibility and believe that IF any announcements will be made in this regard, they are likely to be made rather close to the GW23 deadline on Friday. All we can say is, keep an eye out on team news for corona-related news and on official Premier League news in regard to double gameweek announcements, and try to hold your transfers as long as possible.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 23 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, January 21st, 2022.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per January 20th, 2022)

GKMendy (CHE), Cox (BRE), De Gea (MUN)Sá (WOL), Ederson (MCI), Ramsdale (ARS) 
DEFJames (CHE), Livramento (SOU), Dier (TOT)Coady (WOL), Cancelo (MCI), Alexander-Arnold (LIV)Injuries to the transferred-out players, Cancelo and TAA form
MIDSalah (LIV), Son (TOT), Smith-Rowe (ARS)Coutinho (AST), De Bruyne (MCI), Bowen (WHU)Salah qualified in AFCON, Son and ESR injured, Coutinho debut goal, Bowen and KDB form
FORRonaldo (MUN), Antonio (WHU), Vardy (LEI)Saint-Maximin (NEW), Antonio (WHU), Dennis (WAT)Ronaldo and United lack of form, ASM fixtures, Vardy injury

Premium pick

With 4 goals and an assist in his last six league outings, Kevin de Bruyne (£12.1m) looks like he’s once again approaching the world-class form that we had become accustomed to from him over the past few seasons. After a first half of the season marred by injury niggles, the Belgian midfielder has started each of Man City’s last six league games, which makes him a very interesting premium fantasy pick not just for this gameweek, when he travels to Saint Mary’s, but for the medium to long term as well. After the away game against Southampton, Pep Guardiola’s men are hosting Brentford and then travel to Norwich. In their current form, those three games alone could very well see the Cityzens record three clean sheets and score 10+ goals. In other words, a run for which you really want to be able to count on KDB.

Non-premium pick

At first, we were planning to continue this week’s FPL preview with another Man City asset, but we then realised that we can’t really expected to be taken seriously if we don’t include Jarrod Bowen (£6.8m) among our fantasy picks for gameweek 23. It’s true that his fixture this week is not the easiest as West Ham need to travel to Old Trafford on Saturday, but this is not the United of yore. This United is inconsistent, lacking intensity and leaky at the back, while the Hammers are the surprise package of the 2021-2022 season so far and Bowen is one of the driving factors behind that success. The 25-year-old winger is possibly the most in-form player in the entire league at the moment, which is underlined by the fact that he has recorded attacking returns for five games straight in the build-up to GW23. Since gameweek 19, Bowen has brought his owners a whopping 3 goals and 5 assists, and a total of 46 FPL points. On top of that, the Manchester United away fixture is followed by a home game against Watford, a visit to Leicester and a home encounter with Newcastle. The Bowen train has left the station for a while already, but it’s still not too late hop on and enjoy the ride.

The budget enabler

Wolves’ upcoming fixtures are not the best with away games against Spurs and West Ham and home encounters with Arsenal and Leicester over the coming five gameweeks, but they have shown that their defence belongs among the very best in the Premier League this season. Only leaders Manchester City have conceded less than their 15 goals, so it makes sense that our budget radar has picked up Rayan Ait Nouri (£4.3m), especially considering the fact that Wolves are hosting Brentford this weekend. The former Angers man looks to have made the left-wing-back position his for the moment and his 11-point haul in GW22 reminded fantasy managers of his potential after missing out in gameweek 17, 18 and 21 (Wolves did not play in gameweek 19 and 20). RAN gets quite a lot of freedom to boom forward as part of Bruno Lage’s five-men defensive set-up and he carries some set-piece duties as well. Despite the fact that Wolves are not the most prolific in front of goal, they’ve scored just 17 goals in 20 games, this adds to the wing-backs appeal. At a price of just £4.3m, we believe there are few better budget-enablers in the official game at the moment.

The differential

Our differential fantasy pick for gameweek 23 is a real differential in more than a few ways. First of all, Philippe Coutinho (£7.0m) has only just returned to the Premier League after a few underwhelming seasons abroad. Second, his own manager has stated that his match fitness is not optimal yet, though this could be taken with a grain of salt as well. Third, his current ownership is still well below the 10% threshold, sitting at 5.7% at the moment of writing. Now, some of the positives. In just 22 minutes as a substitute on his debut for Villa, the Brazilian international scored a goal, posted an expected goal involvement of 0.8, and looked fired up during the little time he spent on the pitch. Furthermore, we find it hard to believe that Villa would bring in a player of Coutinho’s stature without wanting to integrate him into the starting eleven as quickly as possible. Finally, his price is bound to rise over the coming days, especially if he performs well against an Everton side in crisis at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The captaincy

There are a few appealing options for the GW23 FPL Captains armband this weekend and we’ve ended up going with Kevin de Bruyne for his away game against Southampton. Manchester City are displaying the consistent form of champions and the Saints have conceded 12 goals in their last six league games. Rotation is, of course, an added risk when it comes to City assets, but KDB looks as close to irreplaceable as it gets for Pep Guardiola and he could be up for a haul on Saturday.

If you’re not among the 10.6% of managers who own the Belgian or if you’re not willing/able to splash the cash on him, there are a few good alternatives on offer as well. Diogo Jota away at Crystal Palace will likely be a popular captaincy option this weekend, as will Raphinha against Newcastle at home. Emmanual Dennis or Josh King could deliver at home against Norwich after their hugely disappointing double-turned-single gameweek 22. If you’re up for Pep Roulette, Phil Foden looks like an interesting prospect against Southampton at Saint Mary’s as well.