The Gameweek That Time Forgot is finally over.

In his FPL Gameweek 21 review, Fantasy Premier League author David Wardale sees West Ham brush aside an ever-awful Norwich.

Thanks to Covid/injuries/yadda yadda, Tuesday’s action involved just the one match as Southampton took advantage of a decidedly charitable Brentford defence.

A watertight Wolves defence proved too much for Man United’s star turns in Monday evening’s match…from a week earlier.

Liverpool and Chelsea went toe-to-toe in a superb Sunday bout, while two of the day’s other sides began their two-match schedule, with mixed fortunes resulting, and Leeds beat Burnley 3-1 for their first win since Gameweek 14.

The Saturday lunchtime kick-off between Arsenal and Man City had a little bit of everything, although points for key fantasy assets were in relatively short supply.

But the first of West Ham’s two fixtures in the gameweek provided plenty of encouragement, and a popular Tottenham star continued his excellent recent run of returns.

You can catch all of our FPL Gameweek 21 tips right here.

 

FPL Gameweek 21 Review

West Ham 2 Norwich 0

Jarrod Bowen (£6.7m) was the undisputed star of the show as West Ham made it three Premier League wins on the bounce with a convincing win over Norwich.

The midfielder was Gameweek 21’s most purchased player, with 1.2 million hoping he’d haul from two favourable fixtures.

And haul he did, backing up an assist at Crystal Palace with both goals at home to the Canaries.

Norwich are showing remarkable consistency this season – remarkably consistently bad, that is – and their one decent effort on another night to forget came when Adam Idah (£4.9m) was denied by a great Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m) save.

They were 1-0 down by then, Bowen converting a chance set up by Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) after seeing another effort ruled out for offside.

By the end of the match, he could have easily scored four or five, having hit the woodwork twice and forced Tim Krul (£4.5m) into early action.

But he remained nowhere near the bonus points until a second disallowed offside goal was overturned by VAR and he promptly shot straight to the top of the rankings, where he deservedly stayed until the final whistle.

That meant a bumper 16-pointer for Bowen – his best return of the season – and a 21-point double gameweek for his 21.3% ownership.

Things were less peachy for the 43.4%-owned Michail Antonio (£7.9m), who blanked. He did, however, have a huge chance to score for a second straight match, only to blow the opportunity with the goal at his mercy.

More adventurous managers also took a punt on a member of a Hammers defence with just the one clean sheet since Gameweek 9.

Some 270,000 of those plumped for Coufal and he romped home to an 11-pointer – another season’s best – while the 11,752 brave souls who went for Arthur Masuaku (£4.4m) were rewarded with assist points for his part in Bowen’s second goal.

West Ham are back in form after a ropey run and their schedule, the odd blip aside, looks set fair for many weeks to come.

Norwich’s next three games aren’t so bad either. But they are, and a team with no wins (or goals) in six matches shouldn’t be touched with whatever barge pole you have to hand.

 

Southampton 4 Brentford 1

Southampton brushed aside a poor Brentford as the Saints’ new owners looked on approvingly.

How much money will be spent on upgrading the squad, and when, should keep things interesting on the south coast for a while.

In the meantime, the current group are doing well enough and they made it four matches unbeaten thanks to a good start when Jan Bednarek (£4.4m) scored early, flicking in James Ward-Prowse’s (£6.3m) set-piece.

The Saints skipper has been in fine form recently, scoring or assisting (or both) for four straight gameweeks, and yet he’s still only owned by 2.9%.

Not that many of his teammates are any more popular, with the most-owned home player on the pitch, Armando Broja (£5.3m), in just 6.5% of FPL squads.

Two of the visiting team could beat that – Ivan Toney (£6.6m and 12.5%) and the 7.5%-owned Pontus Jansson (£4.6m) – but it was the very definition of a differential, Vitaly Janelt (£5.0m and 0.1%), who levelled from a Bryan Mbeumo (£5.3m) assist.

That was as good as it got for the Bees, however.

The Saints retook the lead when Ibrahima Diallo’s (£4.5m) shot hit the post and went in off the Brentford keeper, Alvaro Fernandez (£4.5m), for an own goal.

It was a poor piece of glove work from the Spaniard, in keeping with the quality of the defence in front of him, judging by Southampton’s third goal just after the interval.

Oriol Romeu (£4.5m) sent the lively Broja on his way and the striker experienced minimal bother from any Brentford defender before scoring his third goal (to go with two assists) in his last five starts.

Substitute Che Adams (£6.8m) made it 4-1 after 70 minutes from a second Diallo assist of the night and the game meandered to its inevitable conclusion after that.

Any active FPL manager still owning Toney needs a (fantasy) slap if they continue that policy, based on both his poor performance at St Mary’s and a fixture list involving Liverpool, Wolves and both Manchester clubs over the next four gameweeks.

And whatever occurs under the new regime, Southampton assets aren’t much more attractive when they have to face Wolves, Spurs and, yep, both Manchester clubs over the same period.

Man United 0 Wolves 1

The heavily-captained Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m) blanked as Wolves kept a third straight clean sheet and managed to score for a change as well.

Although he suffered a minor drop in owners going into the match, Ronaldo was still handed the armband by just under a million managers.

But a combination of the visitors’ defensive discipline and United’s pedestrian play limited him to half-chances and a goal disallowed, quite rightly, for offside.

The hosts’ best chance of the match fell to substitute Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m), who crashed a shot onto the bar when it was probably easier to score.

It was a bold call by manager Ralf Rangnick to bench Fernandes after his return from a one-match ban, but it wasn’t necessarily his bravest, seeing as Phil Jones (£4.5m) was handed a first start for almost two years in the absence, through injury, of Harry Maguire (£5.4m).

Wolves contained United with a minimum of fuss for much of the match. They also out-shot them 19-9 and had six attempts on target to the Red Devils’ two.

David de Gea (£5.2m) had earned a save point after just 20 minutes, such was the visitors’ strong start to the match.

In fact, they racked up 15 shots in the first half – a record for a visiting team at Old Trafford in a Premier League game.

But it looked like being a familiar story of all show and no go for Wolves – they’d scored only once in the previous six gameweeks – until Joao Moutinho (£4.9m) steered home a shot from the edge of the area after 82 minutes.

They held out well enough after that, although Fernandes’ free-kick forced Jose Sa (£5.1m) into a fine save with the last kick of a match from which United deserved exactly what they got, which was nothing.

It was United’s first defeat under Rangnick, who is still to find the right balance in a side that has a generally favourable schedule through to early March.

But any more performances like this one and fantasy managers will be thinking twice about keeping faith in their assets, with one of their more successful recent starters, Diogo Dalot (£4.5m), benched for the second match running to test the resolve of his modest ownership.

As for Wolves, based on their fixtures, they’ll continue to offer excellent prospects of defensive returns and precious little further up the pitch – unless things change dramatically, that is.

 

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

Chelsea and Liverpool played out a Sunday evening classic with decent returns for a number of well-owned fantasy stars.

The pre-match talk was dominated by Romelu Lukaku’s (£11.5m) demotion to the naughty step for his loose talk about his ex (and likely future) love Inter.

And 26 minutes into a pulsating encounter, the fallout from that affair seemed all too apparent as Liverpool went two up.

The first came when Sadio Mane (£11.8m) punished a mistake by Trevoh Chalobah (£4.7m) before Mo Salah (£12.9m) broke his two-game drought with a clever close-range finish.

The pair, as we all know, are now off the Africa Cup of Nations, and with Roberto Firmino (£8.7m) absent with Covid, Liverpool’s frontline is suddenly looking horribly threadbare.

At least Diogo Jota (£8.2m) chipped in with an assist to remind us he’ll still be around, while Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.3m) set up the other goal.

Chelsea looked done and dusted, especially as Christian Pulisic (£7.9m) had earlier fluffed a brilliant chance to score following Alexander-Arnold’s error and Lukaku’s replacement up front, Kai Havertz (£7.8m), was largely anonymous.

But they were somehow level by half-time thanks to a Mateo Kovacic (£5.0m) wonder strike and an emphatic Pulisic finish on the break.

The Chelsea assists came from Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) and N’Golo Kante (£4.9m), with that pair and Kovacic hoovering up the bonus points.

Both sides had chances to win the match after the interval in a brilliantly breathless match of pace, skill and, occasionally, a bit of bite.

After Liverpool’s Gameweek 19 fixture was postponed, many managers sold Salah and had to sit through two matches fearing the worst.

The Egyptian delivered at Stamford Bridge, but now the rest of his ownership – still in the high 57% – need to decide when to sell him and who for.

A bit of transfer tinkering and you could spend a lot of that money on Lukaku, although Chelsea assets in general are not exactly attractive when it’s Man City, Spurs and the FIFA Club World Cup to take them into mid-February.

At least manager Thomas Tuchel made it clear post-match that the striker is unlikely to stay in the dog house for long, with a meeting set up for Monday.

“ From there, we will take the decision and if the decision is he is good to go on Wednesday (in the Carabao Cup), this is the decision. Once the situation is clear, there’s no doubt he will stay our player and we will also protect our player.”

For Liverpool, Firmino wasn’t the only player missing because of Covid, with the impressive Caoimhin Kelleher (£4.3m) filling in for Alisson (£6.0m) in goal and Joel Matip (£4.9m) replaced by Ibrahima Konate (£5.1m) at centre-half.

But it is up top that the Reds are really struggling now.

Obvious, if not exactly inspiring, replacements for Salah and Mane include Divock Origi (£4.8m) and Takumi Minamino (£5.1m).

They’re both cheap and, crucially, currently injured.

Liverpool have a great run of fixtures up until a Gameweek 27 blank, but they’re running out of personnel for fantasy managers to exploit it.

 

Everton 2 Brighton 3

Everton’s double gameweek got off to a disastrous start, although the tiny minority of geniuses who bought into Alexis Mac Alister (£5.3m) or Anthony Gordon (£4.5m) would beg to differ.

Unfortunately, most FPL bosses looking to tap into the Toffees’ two fixtures ended up buying Demarai Gray (£5.5m), who blanked, the returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.9m), who missed a penalty, or a defender who ended up shipping three goals.

Brighton were two up after 21 minutes through goals from Mac Alister and Dan Burn (£4.4m), before Calvert-Lewin blew his chance to halve the deficit when he blasted a spot-kick over the bar.

The home side fought back after the interval, with a brace from Gordon either side of Mac Alister’s second, but Brighton held on to continue a decent run of form involving two wins (and a draw at Chelsea) over the last three matches.

Assists on the day came from Allan (£4.4m) and Jonjoe Kenny (£4.4m) for Everton and Neal Maupay (£6.5m) and a couple from Enock Mwepu (£5.9m) for the Seagulls.

But it was a measure of the fantasy fallout from the match that the most popular player among all those who scored or assisted was the 5.8%-owned Maupay.

And as for the two big haulers on the day, 14,626 FPL managers can call Gordon a squad member, while a spookily brilliant net 32 bosses decided to take a punt on Mac Alister for the Goodison Park game.

The likes of Calvert-Lewin will get a second shot at Gameweek 21 redemption two Tuesdays from now.

Brighton won’t play until the Friday, opening Gamweek 22 with their derby against Crystal Palace.

But with no fixture scheduled for Gameweek 24 and a lack of consistent point-scorers at either end of the pitch, Seagulls players remain unattractive options despite their recent return to winning ways.

Brentford 2 Aston Villa 1

The ‘forgotten’ team of the double gameweek, Brentford, won for the second time in four matches thanks to a comeback victory over Aston Villa.

While fantasy managers tucked into a main course of West Ham stars with an Everton side or two, few filled their plates with players facing Villa and then Southampton over Gameweek 21’s extended schedule.

Those that did mostly went for striker Ivan Toney (£6.6m), who continued his run of not scoring since Gameweek 13 and added a yellow card to make it just the one point earned for his 12.8% ownership.

At least he got on the pitch. Villa’s most popular outfield player, Ollie Watkins (£7.8m and 16.7%), didn’t even make the squad.

His manager, Steven Gerrard, was cryptic as to why, saying:

“I am not sure I am in a position to give you the details on it, but we have got a mixture of Covid and injury problems at the moment. Ollie should be back for the next game.”

Seeing as that match won’t be for 13 days – unless Gerrard is talking about the weekend’s FA Cup fixture – Watkins could be either injured or ill.

In his absence, Danny Ings (£7.7m) and Emiliano Buendia (£6.2m) formed a strong attacking partnership, with the latter setting up Ings for the opening goal after 16 minutes.

It took Brentford almost the entire first half to respond, Yoane Wissa (£5.9m) scoring from a Mads Roerslev (£4.3m) assist.

The latter then won the match with a late goal enjoyed by a very select few. A net 948 took a chance on the wing-back, who more than doubled his points output for the season with maximum bonus heading his way.

As for Wissa, he’s owned by 8,379.

Well done them.

The rest of us are unlikely to join the Brentford party any time soon as the Bees have to travel to both Liverpool and Man City over the next four gameweeks.

 

Leeds 3 Burnley 1

A late flurry of goals gave Leeds a deserved win – their first since Gameweek 14 – against a limited Burnley.

Stuart Dallas (£5.0m) topped the bonus points chart with his first goal of the season, a 77th-minute curler that restored the home side’s lead after a second-half comeback from the Clarets.

That comeback culminated in substitute Maxwel Cornet’s (£5.9m) fine free-kick.

The Ivory Coast international has been one of the few bright spots of a dark and dour Burnley season to date.

But he won’t be illuminating things in Lancashire for a while as he’s now off to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Leeds were good for their win. They matched Crystal Palace’s leading shot total for the gameweek (22), while the Eagles also pipped them for big chances (4v3) and only Spurs could top their attempts on target tally (9v7).

Marcelo Bielsa’s side opened the scoring in the first half through Jack Harrison (£5.5m) and sealed the deal late on from a Daniel James (£6.0m) header.

The assists came from Mateusz Klich (£5.2m) and Joe Gelhardt (£4.6m).

None of the points scorers (on either side) command large armies of FPL owners, however.

And the one player who does, the 15.3%-owned Raphinha (£6.5m), blanked for the second time in three starts. Or, if you want to be more charitable, only the second time in six gameweeks.

He did fluff a big chance along the way, but with Leeds looking a bit more like last season’s vintage and an immediate schedule involving defensively suspect teams such as West Ham, Newcastle and Everton, now doesn’t look like the best of times to be selling the Brazilian.

The opposite is true for Burnley’s players, who will have to face Leicester, Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool over the next four, probably trying, gameweeks.

 

Crystal Palace 2 West Ham 3

West Ham started their double gameweek with a wild ride of a win over a wasteful Crystal Palace.

FPL managers piled in on Hammers assets ahead of the Selhurst Park clash and the visit from Norwich on January 12 that will round out Gameweek 21.

The usual suspects were targeted.

In-form midfielder Jarrod Bowen (£6.7m) gained a net 985,101 new owners, Michail Antonio (£7.8m) 569,305 and even Said Benrahma (£5.9m) was bought by 163,656 even though he won’t feature in the Norwich fixture as he’ll be at the Africa Cup of Nations by then.

And the trio delivered, with Bowen producing a fifth assist in three starts for his part in a penalty awarded for handball, while Antonio made it three straight games with returns when he scored from Benrahma’s cross.

But all of them were effortlessly upstaged by Manuel Lanzini (£5.8m).

Purchased by a mere 2,337 net managers, the midfielder scored twice and brought in maximum bonus for a season’s best 15 points.

To be fair to those who didn’t consider him, it was Lanzini’s first return since Gameweek 15, scoring from both of his shots, including a penalty, to display a clinical streak notable by its absence in the Palace side.

The home team out-shot West Ham 22-10, hit the woodwork twice and squandered big chances before the visitors raced into a 3-0 half-time lead.

The Eagles fought back after the break, scoring through Odsonne Edouard (£6.4m) – his second consecutive goal – and a Michael Olise (£5.4m) free-kick, with assists coming from the latter and Jordan Ayew (£5.8m).

That meant yet another clean sheet fail for the Hammers, who’ve managed just one shut-out since Gameweek 9 now.

That hadn’t stopped plenty of investment in their defence, with the unluckiest managers those who were drawn to the budget delights of Ben Johnson (£4.0m), who was hooked at half-time for zero points, or his replacement, Arthur Masuaku (£4.4m), who walked off 45 minutes later with -1 to his name.

The Norwich fixture should offer rather better odds for defensive returns, seeing as the Canaries have scored just eight times in 19 matches thus far.

Palace, meanwhile, are considerably more potent than that and, in the 3.9%-owned Edouard, might just have a differential striker worth considering should they be handed an expected double gameweek next time out.

They’re currently just down for a trip to Brighton for their (not overly) local derby and have Liverpool, Norwich and Brentford to come after that, so it’s a mixed bag for a team who’ve scored two times or more in four of their last five matches.

 

Watford 0 Spurs 1

Heung-Min Son (£10.6m) left it late once again to keep his growing army of owners happy as Spurs snuck past a disciplined Watford.

The South Korea international scored with his last kick of the match in Gameweek 19’s win over Crystal Palace and he set up Saturday’s winner at Vicarage Road when his 96th minute cross was headed home by Davinson Sanchez (£4.5m).

That’s six straight games with a return from Son, who has gained close to 800,000 new managers and £0.2m in value over that time.

He and Harry Kane (£12.2m) had plenty of attempts against the Hornets – the England captain currently leads the way for shots this gameweek, with six.

But Watford displayed a defensive grit so often lacking this season and were desperately close to finally keeping a clean sheet when Sanchez struck.

Then again, the home side required keeper Daniel Bachmann (£4.2m) to make nine saves to keep them in the game for so long.

That’s yet another sign of how Tottenham are improving under Antonio Conte.

Defensively, they’ve looked the part straight away, securing five clean sheets in his eight-match tenure.

But over the last four games, Spurs have been showing their attacking bite.

They’ve out-shot the mighty Man City 69-62, have created more big chances (16) than anyone and their xG of 10.5 is another league-leading figure (City’s is 9.4).

The only problem is their schedule.

Yes, there should be a double gameweek heading their way very soon, but their next five fixtures include a north London derby, Chelsea and Man City away and a visit from Wolves’ miserly defence.

Watford can only dream of such issues, although their immediate schedule (Newcastle and Norwich) is as kind as it is vital for their chances of Premier League survival.

Fantasy managers have wisely steered well clear of investment in their players, the one exception being the 38.5%-owned Emmanuel Dennis (£6.1m).

The FPL lord giveth and he taketh away, however.

Having heard the news their main man wasn’t going to the Africa Cup of Nations after all, Dennis was promptly subbed off at half-time against Spurs for a measly one-pointer.

Watford boss Claudio Ranieri explained the move post-match.

“He had a little injury problem before, and he felt something as well, so we took a precaution. Before the match he wasn’t 100 per cent and I saw he was a little nervous during the match, so I changed.”

The manager previously admitted that Dennis wanted to go to Afcon with Nigeria, but his comments should allay fears the striker was substituted for mental, rather than physical, reasons on Saturday.

We’ll find out for sure in Gameweek 22 at St James’ Park.

Arsenal 1 Man City 2

A late Rodri (£5.5m) winner settled a dramatic, controversial and feisty encounter in Man City’s favour.

The midfielder poked home from close range after Aymeric Laporte’s (£5.6m) blocked shot fell at his feet.

It was harsh on a committed Arsenal side who took the lead when the excellent Bukayo Saka (£6.3m) swept home Kieran Tierney’s (£4.9m) low cross.

And they should have had a penalty when Ederson (£6.0m) caught Martin Odegaard (£5.6m), only for VAR to uphold referee Stuart Attwell’s decision not to give a spot-kick.

The Gunners were well worth their advantage at half-time, and started in the same vein after the interval before the whole balance of the match switched in two action-packed minutes.

When Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) went over under pressure from Granit Xhaka (£4.8m), the referee again waved play on, but VAR prompted Mr Attwell to take another look and Riyad Mahrez (£8.7m) thumped home the resultant penalty.

Arsenal went straight on the attack, the ball was cleared off City’s line and Gabriel Martinelli (£5.4m) contrived to miss the follow-up with the goal at his mercy.

The visitors then swiftly broke and Gabriel (£5.3m) pulled back Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m), earning himself a second yellow, and ten-man Arsenal held on, and on, until Rodri’s 93rd minute winner.

Fantasy-wise, the 25.7%-owned Bernardo lost more than a quarter of a million managers after four straight blanks, although his assist points were slightly offset by a yellow card.

Team-mate Laporte continued to bring in the points for his considerably smaller fan club of 5.2%.

The centre-half has hauled for six straight matches now, cultivating a happy knack of gaining attacking returns when the side fails to keep a clean sheet. He attracted a modest ownership boost of 78,000+ for the gameweek.

Saka’s goal – his fifth straight return – was also enjoyed by a small increase in his ownership, with a net 40,121 buying into the midfielder despite the difficulty of the fixture, while Tierney provided points for the fifth time in six matches.

The match demonstrated Arsenal’s clear progress in recent weeks.

Once Gameweek 22’s north London derby is out of the way, renewed interest in their players looks highly likely.

It’s Chelsea next for Guardiola’s side, before a decent run of fixtures from Gameweek 23.

Owners of City assets remain, as ever, in danger of losing out to Pep Roulette, although Phil Foden’s (£8.1m) absence from the squad at The Emirates was rumoured to be down to a positive Covid test rather than his manager’s rotational plottings.

 

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