In his FPL Gameweek 22 review, Fantasy Premier League author David Wardale sees a forgettable ‘double’ gameweek end with a mad result at Leicester and a bad result for Ronaldo’s many owners (and captainers).
In the first double fixture not nobbled by Covid, Brighton and Chelsea produced a not-so thrilling draw, but at least there were goals aplenty in the Sunday matches, with Leeds winning a thriller and Liverpool easing past Brentford.
A belter of a Saturday evening match took place at Villa Park as Man United lost a two-goal lead, while Wolves finally found their scoring boots in a 3-1 win over Southampton.
In the Saturday lunchtime kick-off, Man City edged their top of the table clash with Chelsea, and Friday night involved a dramatic derby between Brighton and Palace, which ended all square.
You can catch all of our FPL Gameweek 22 tips right here.
FPL Gameweek 22 Review
Brentford 1 Man United 3
A wasteful Brentford were ruthlessly punished by Man United, although not by the right player as far as vast swathes of FPL bosses were concerned.
The Bees worked visiting keeper David de Gea (£5.2m) throughout, forcing him into seven saves.
His counterpart in the home goal, Jonas Lossl (£4.5m), made just the one stop, but picked the ball out of the net three times.
And that was the difference.
Brentford had a number of one-on-ones with de Gea and couldn’t find a way past him, their goal instead coming when Ivan Toney (£6.6m) scored from a scramble in the box.
By then, they were three down as United came out after the break quicker, sharper and more aggressive.
Anthony Elanga (£4.8m) broke the deadlock when he controlled a Fred (£4.9m) pass well enough for the ball to loop into the air where he could head it past Lossl and into the net.
Amid all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about United’s underperforming egos, Fred has been quietly going along accruing points recently, with a goal and four assists from his last six starts, while Elanga is a cut-price asset should Ralf Rangnick continue to favour him with a starting role.
But it is the likes of Bruno Fernandes (£11.7m) who will always grab the headlines, and he hauled again when he unselfishly squared for Mason Greenwood (£7.2m) to tap in after a break instigated by Cristiano Ronaldo’s (£12.5m) clever chest pass.
The Portugal midfielder blew a huge chance to score his third goal of the gameweek, but he’d added a second assist by then when substitute Marcus Rashford (£9.4m) finished with a precision noticeably absent from Brentford’s attempts on goal.
Then again, the England man was only on the pitch because Ronaldo was hooked after a 70-minute run-out involving… not a great deal.
He did hit the top of the bar with a header, but that was palpably not enough when the captaincy hopes of 1.5 million extended way beyond the two measly points he brought in.
Ronaldo’s blank put the tin lid on an entirely forgettable (and disappointingly truncated) double gameweek for the many, whereas the few who handed the armband to Fernandes ended with 46 points just from their man alone.
Leicester 2 Spurs 3
Two late, late goals from substitute Steven Bergwijn (£5.9m) won Spurs a game they generally controlled but still found themselves behind in twice.
The Holland international scored after 95 and 97 minutes to stun the King Power Stadium and, no doubt, the 0.3% who kept faith in/completely forgot to sell a player who’d barely featured since Gameweek 3.
Of more fantasy pertinence was one of his assisters being the 13.1%-owned Harry Kane (£12.3m), who also scored Tottenham’s initial equaliser and walked off, pending bonus points, with a first double-digit haul since Gameweek 8.
That would have gone some of the way to easing the pain felt by many managers who had taken hits to bring in Spurs and/or Leicester players for the two sides’ double gameweeks and then had to make do with just this one game between the both of them.
Plenty of FPL bosses had brought in James Maddison (£6.9m) with his double in mind and he at least scored his fifth goal in seven matches to restore the Foxes’ lead, with substitute Harvey Barnes (£6.5m) providing a cute assist.
Before that, Leicester opened the scoring when Patson Daka (£7.1m) scooped the ball over Hugo Lloris (£5.4m) from close range.
It was a goal very much against the run of play.
Kane had a shot cleared off the line and a header come back off the bar during a busy first 20 minutes, which reflected the course of the match as a whole as the visitors had ten shots on target to the hosts’ four.
Even so, it took those mad final few minutes for Spurs to get what they no doubt felt they deserved.
The other assists came from Harry Winks (£4.4m) and Matt Doherty (£4.7m), who came on for Emerson Royal (£5.0m) at half-time in a move that seemed to be tactical rather than because of any injury to the 2.3%-owned wing-back.
Spurs’ schedule looks tough in the short term, but Kane is starting to look dangerously sharp and now has four goals and an assist from his last five starts.
And although Maddison and Daka, who has produced returns for three straight starts, have form, Leicester’s fixtures look just as testing.
Brighton 1 Chelsea 1
Brighton and Chelsea scrapped to a draw low on quality, incident and, as it turned, decent fantasy returns for most managers.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 28th minute when N’golo Kante (£4.9m) played it to Hakim Ziyech (£7.3m), whose speculative shot from the edge of the area found its way past Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) and into the Brighton net.
Of the three players mentioned in the previous paragraph, only the home keeper has a sizeable FPL ownership (18.4%), so that blew many a manager’s hopes of clean sheet points.
The goal at least marked Kante’s fourth attacking return of the campaign, which puts him level with Kai Havertz (£7.8m) – and from a minute’s less pitch-time.
That says much about Kante’s qualities. And Havertz? Less so.
It was to the Seagulls’ credit that they never allowed Chelsea to kick on from the opening goal and they were level halfway through the second period, Adam Webster (£4.4m) powering in a header from Alexis Mac Allister’s (£5.3m) corner.
That meant a fifth straight match without a clean sheet for the Blues; a Chelsea double up in defence the quaintest (and distant) of fantasy memories.
The goal also brought a pleasing symmetry to the occasion as the score became 1-1 and both sides had had seven shots, two of which were on target, which perfectly demonstrated the even nature of the contest.
And it marked the start of a more open game, with Chelsea galvanised by the loss of their lead and the hosts animated by the introduction of Leandro Trossard (£6.1m) and Neal Maupay (£6.5m).
But for all their huffing and puffing, neither side stretched either keeper, even if Chelsea did manage to edge the shots on target total 3-2 by the end of the match.
The Blues looked tired and uninspired for much of the game and will need a vast improvement if they are to see off Spurs in Gameweek 23, especially from the likes of Mason Mount (£7.7m) and Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m), who were anonymous at the Amex.
The striker has now started twice since his very public comments about his unhappiness at the club and he looked bang average in a double gameweek when more than 100,000 new managers invested in him.
After that, he and the rest of the squad are off to the FIFA World Club Cup, so now is very much the time to be offloading your Chelsea assets.
Brighton, meanwhile, travel to Leicester before a Gameweek 24 blank.
They continue to be hard to beat and even harder to exploit for consistent fantasy gain, particularly when they’re not keeping clean sheets – they’ve managed just one of those since Gameweek 13 now.
Liverpool 3 Brentford 0
Liverpool found league life without Mo and Sadio easy enough on first inspection thanks to a convincing win over Brentford.
The goals came from Fabinho (£5.4m) and attacking understudies Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£5.8m) and Takumi Minamino (£5.1m) and assists from Roberto Firmino (£8.7m) and the two Liverpool full-backs.
That meant a projected ten-point return for the 44.6%-owned Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.4m) and 12 (including maximum bonus) for Andy Robertson (£7.0m), who is in just 2.8% of FPL squads.
Missing two recent matches through suspension clearly hasn’t helped the Scotland international’s fantasy cause, but he’s now scored 55 points since Gameweek 13. Alexander-Arnold has 63 from two games more.
Robertson trails the right-back 14-4 in terms of shots over that period, but they’ve both scored once and the left-back has five assists to his teammate’s four – all from nearly 200 minutes less pitch-time and a £1.4m saving in price, lest we forget.
He also helped deliver a first clean sheet since Gameweek 16, but the relative merits of the full-backs is an argument for another day.
The big issue from Sunday’s game was Diogo Jota (£8.4m), who came into the gameweek as the most purchased player (despite no double fixture) and left it with three measly points.
His 36.9% ownership will take little little comfort from him being joint-top for shots (six) for the gameweek as he fluffed one especially excellent chance to get on the score sheet against a defence that’s let in seven goals over the last two matches.
At least Bees keeper Alvaro Fernandez (£4.5m) kept nice and warm. He made ten saves at Anfield.
Liverpool only have to face Crystal Palace before their stars are back from AFCON, so those tempted by the thought of a differential punt on the 0.2%-owned Oxlade-Chamberlain would do well to remember that he only had two shots against Brentford – Joel Matip (£4.9m) managed three.
Brentford managed just one attempt on target all game and with Wolves and both Manchester sides to come in the next three gameweeks, now is not the time to go buzzing round the Bees.
West Ham United 2 Leeds United 3
Leeds deservedly won a thrilling encounter with West Ham as Jack Harrison (£5.5m) scored a hat-trick for a 20-point haul.
It was a third game in eight days for the Hammers and it showed as Leeds dominated the early stages.
They took a deserved lead when the lively Harrison steered home Adam Forshaw’s (£4.5m) pass.
That made it two goals in two games for Harrison, while it was the latter’s first assist at the 12th attempt.
Forshaw didn’t last much longer, however, going off with what looked like a hamstring issue and he was quickly followed by Junior Firpo (£4.7m) as Leeds’ injury issues moved from crisis mode to meltdown.
Unsurprisingly, the home side drew strength from all that frailty and they were level when man-of-the-moment Jarrod Bowen (£6.7m) scored his third goal in two matches, nodding in Aaron Cresswell’s (£5.3m) corner.
But Leeds proved to be made of tougher stuff mentally than physically as they retook the lead within five minutes when Harrison bundled home Luke Ayling’s (£4.3m) header.
Dan James (£6.0m) missed a big chance right on half-time and it took West Ham only eight minutes of the second period to make him pay for that as Pablo Fornals (£6.0m) scored for the first time since Gameweek 11.
The assist came from Michail Antonio (£7.9m).
The striker still has a long way to go to wander fully into Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m) territory by providing more assists than goals. Goals are currently winning 8-7, but it was 4-4 after just three gameweeks and is 2-3 over recent matches…
The encounter, already wildly entertaining, was then turned up a notch, with Harrison completing his hat-trick courtesy of a superb Raphinha (£6.5m) pass.
The Brazilian hit the post with a brilliant free-kick minutes later and looked to have added a second assist when Mateusz Klich (£5.2m) fired home from his cut-back.
But the goal was ruled out for offside by VAR after his shot brushed Rodrigo (£6.2m) on the way into the net. It was, as they say, harsh but fair, based on the letter of the law.
As if to redress the balance, substitute Andriy Yamolenko (£5.1m) was also denied by VAR, again rightly, for offside before Bowen contrived to miss the most golden of chances at the death, chesting a deflected Antonio cross over the bar from a yard out.
That would have been incredibly hard on a Leeds side finding ways to win despite their current injury woes.
It’s Newcastle next for them. While Harrison will no doubt earn some new owners on the back of his recent form, it is Raphinha who remains the side’s class act.
West Ham will be at Old Trafford on Saturday. It could be unwise to bet against Bowen, but the side as a whole looks to be running on fumes at present.
Newcastle 1 Watford 1
Watford battled to a point at Newcastle with a late equaliser from a forward we all forgot to factor in for the Hornets’ double gameweek.
Both Emmanuel Dennis (£6.1m) and Josh King (£5.8m) were well-backed by FPL managers tempted by the prospect of decent returns from Gameweek 22 trips to the north east and then Burnley.
Dennis, with 39.6% ownership, was especially fancied, but he was kept to just two shots, neither of which were on target, while King had twice the attempts. Both ended the day with two points to their name.
Instead, it was the 0.3%-owned Joao Pedro (£5.4m) who stepped up, with six shots, three of which were on target. Crucially, one of those was a late header from a Kiko Femenia (£4.3m) cross which secured the draw.
Newcastle bossed the first half, but couldn’t breach a Watford defence which included the returning Ben Foster (£4.1m) in goal.
The home side finally went ahead just after the break thanks to Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.6m), who scored for the second match running.
Watford rallied from there and were well worth their point, seeing as Magpies keeper Martin Dubravka (£4.4m) made four saves to Foster’s zero.
Fantasy interest in new signing Chris Wood (£6.7m) could be found somewhere between Idle Curiosity and Indifferent Shrug, with just 4,445 managers buying him in.
He did at least lead the way for shots among his new teammates, with three, but his xG of 0.11 sweetly summed up Newcastle’s toothlessness.
Norwich 2 Everton 1
Gameweek 22’s ‘should we really care’ match ended in a first Norwich victory in nine as Everton continued their lurch into mediocrity.
Match-winner Adam Idah (£4.9m) and assisters Brandon Williams (£3.9m) and Joshua Sargent (£5.4m) can only just manage more than 5% ownership between them.
As for the visitors, Everton scorer Richarlison (£7.4m) and an own goal from Michael Keane (£4.9m) were enjoyed/endured by 3.4% and 3.6% respectively.
By far the most popular player on display, Toffees winger Demarai Gray (£5.5m and 11.7%), blanked for the third straight game and although his side have some decent upcoming fixtures, their form is nowhere to be seen.
Everton have lost three of their last four matches and the immediate future of boss Rafa Benitez is looking none too secure when you can’t even get a result against lowly Norwich.
Talking of the Canaries, maybe this victory will represent a corner turned and the start of an amazing recovery.
More evidence is required before fantasy investment needs to be considered, however, with even the bargain bucket allure of Williams offset by the fact that his Saturday haul was only his second in 15 attempts this season.
Aston Villa 2 Man United 2
Philippe Coutinho (£7.0m) came off the bench to rescue a point for Aston Villa in a pulsating clash with Manchester United.
The match was marred for many when the news came through that the hip issue suffered by Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m) would keep him out of the squad for the Saturday evening kick-off.
The United forward had been brought in by 200,000+ for the Villa trip and a Wednesday visit to Brentford, while a gameweek-leading 1.5 million made him their captain.
In his absence, Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m) stepped up.
The midfielder opened the scoring – his first goal since Gameweek 14 – when his speculative shot was fumbled into the net by home keeper Emiliano Martinez (£5.5m).
It was a horrible error from the Villa man, although he made partial amends when saving bravely from Mason Greenwood (£7.2m) and he could do nothing about United’s second, a full-blooded blast in-off the bar from Fernandes after good work from Fred (£4.9m).
To be two down with just over 20 minutes to play was harsh on Villa, who worked David de Gea (£5.2m) consistently.
The United stopper made seven saves in all, but he was powerless to stop the home side’s late onslaught.
The revival was sparked by the excellent Jacob Ramsey (£4.6m), who got one goal back from close range before setting up Coutinho’s dramatic late equaliser.
The young Villa man now has two goals and an assist from his last four starts and is clearly rated by Steven Gerrard as the manager has started him in six straight matches.
With a favourable fixture list to come, he represents a cut-price way into Villa’s midfield, although the big-ticket charms of Coutinho will probably attract more.
The home side’s other debutant, Lucas Digne (£5.0m), looked the part going forward and less so defensively.
So while Gerrard’s liking for full-backs playing high up the pitch will definitely bump up his attacking threat, the team’s fragility – just one clean sheet in eight matches now – dampens his appeal.
As for United, Marcus Rashford (£9.4m) was another to miss out through injury, prompting Ralf Rangnick to make a bold call by picking Anthony Elanga (£4.8m) instead of Jadon Sancho (£8.9m) and he wasn’t let down by the lively winger.
A fourth straight game without a clean sheet was less impressive, but United generally looked more like a cohesive unit, going forward at least, than in recent weeks.
Whether that was down to Ronaldo’s absence will be the stuff of debate for a few days, no doubt, although Rangnick seemed fairly confident the striker will be back in midweek.
“After training, we decided that it doesn’t make sense if he’s not feeling fully fit to make the trip here. It makes sense to have treatment at home and hopefully he can be available for Wednesday’s game against Brentford.”
Three million FPL managers most definitely agree.
Wolves 3 Southampton 1
Strangeness abounded at Molineux as goal-shy Wolves scored three times while also failing to keep a clean sheet – only the third time that’s happened in nine matches – in their win over Southampton.
The briefest of glances at Wolves’ ownership levels tells its own fantasy story.
Skipper Conor Coady (£4.6m and 9.1%) and keeper Jose Sa (£5.2m and 6.0%) are the team’s most popular FPL players – hardly surprising with that superb recent defensive record.
Happily for their fan bases, both managed to bring in decent returns despite the Southampton goal.
Sa made nine saves – a season high – and with a projected two bonus points coming his way, he was due to go top of the goalkeepers’ standings.
Coady, meanwhile, scored only the third league goal of his career to make it a fourth consecutive match with a haul to his name.
Both were outdone on the day by Rayan Ait Nouri (£4.3m), who provided two assists and was on for maximum bonus and an 11-pointer as a result.
But seeing as he’s most definitely not a regular starter, managers can be excused for missing out, although why Wolves defenders in general aren’t better owned remains a minor fantasy mystery.
Rather more obvious has been the decline and fall of Raul Jimenez’s (£7.4m) popularity, down from 1.2 million owners in Gameweek 13 to under 400,000 now.
He hadn’t netted since Gameweek 12, but opened the scoring against the Saints. And when Coady doubled the advantage 59 minutes in, it looked like there was no way back for the visitors.
A superb James Ward-Prowse (£6.3m) free-kick, following a foul on Nathan Redmond (£5.9m), said otherwise and, in a game where Southampton had ten shots on target to their hosts’ five, an equaliser wouldn’t have been unjust.
Instead, Adama Traore (£5.6m) scored his first goal of the season (at the 19th attempt) on the break to seal the deal for Wolves.
It was a fitting goal based on the other rare occurrences that the match dealt in, as was an assist for Max Kilman (£4.5m) – his second in four seasons of Premier League football.
It’s Brentford next for Wolves, followed by a tougher batch of tests.
Then again, this is a team that’s shut down the likes of Chelsea and Man United, so there’s an element of the fixture-proof about their defenders and goalkeeper.
Ward-Prowse remains Southampton’s stand-out performer. He’s hauled for five consecutive matches, scoring four times and assisting twice.
But with both Manchester sides and Spurs to come over the next three gameweeks, even he might struggle to continue that fine run.
Man City 1 Chelsea 0
A Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) goal was enough to secure a narrow, if deserved, win for Man City over title rivals Chelsea.
The midfielder picked up Joao Cancelo’s (£7.0m) threaded pass and curled it past Kepa (£4.7m) with 70 minutes on the clock.
More than a quarter of a million managers went for the Belgian despite his lack of a double fixture, with his form – three goals and an assist from his previous five starts – a key factor.
But there were plenty of other FPL bosses considerably less satisfied with events at The Etihad.
The 28%-owned City centre-half Ruben Dias (£6.3m) was benched after nine consecutive starts, although a psychic 16,716 bosses read the tea leaves and sold him ahead of the top of the table clash.
Blues midfielder Mason Mount (£7.7m) was also benched after eight straight starts. Owned by 26.3%, more than 400,000 brought him in for the double gameweek, making him a top five purchase.
Those buyers will have to hope for a full run-out in midweek at Brighton as Mount was given just ten minutes against City.
Phil Foden (£8.0m) came back in for only his third start since Gameweek 12 – a state of affairs that couldn’t have pleased the 160,000+ who sold him this week.
But he blanked despite City dominating possession and chances, even if big ones were few and far between.
The best one of a cagey first half fell to Jack Grealish (£7.6m), who forced a fine save when one-on-one with Kepa.
The game was much quicker and more open after the break and early into the second half, Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) was sent through, only to be thwarted by Ederson (£6.1m).
That was Chelsea’s only shot on target, whereas Kepa was called into action five times.
De Bruyne brought in maximum bonus for a third haul in four, while Cancelo produced his sixth double-digit return of a campaign of consistent excellence.
Chelsea, as mentioned, go again on Tuesday, but with three blanks incoming between Gameweeks 23 and 28, the time to sell their players moves ever closer.
The opposite is true of City stars. They have both form and fixtures to tempt us, and Pep Roulette to test us.
Brighton 1 Crystal Palace 1
A typically thunderous derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace ended level and earned those who remained loyal to Connor Gallagher (£6.1m) a nine-point haul.
The Palace midfielder scored the game’s opening goal, very much against the run of play, after 69 minutes.
Having blanked for two matches and missed two more, he’d lost a million managers as a result, including close to 200,000 heading into Gameweek 22.
But he was still owned by 17.4%, which easily makes him the most popular Palace player in FPL, and just behind Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez (£4.6m and 18.5%) as the most-owned player on the pitch.
The assist came from Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.4m).
Palace had to survive a torrid first half in which Brighton had a goal disallowed by VAR and saw a Pascal Gross (£5.7m) penalty saved by Jack Butland (£4.4m).
The Eagles keeper, back in for Vicente Guaita (£4.6m), made three other saves to earn maximum bonus and a bumper 11-point haul for his 34,004 owners.
He couldn’t keep a clean sheet, however.
With time running out, Neal Maupay (£6.5m) put in a low ball on the edge of the six-yard box and Joachim Andersen (£4.5m) stuck out a leg to block it but instead put it past Butland and into his own net.
It was cruel on Andersen, who had been excellent all night, but was more than fair seeing as Brighton had out-shot the visitors 19-3 and dominated for large periods of the match.
Despite having a double gameweek, interest in Seagulls assets has remained muted, although 100,000+ transfers-in went on Marc Cucurella (£5.1m), Leandro Trossard (£6.1m) and Maupay.
Those managers endured a frustrating evening, with Trossard denied by one fine Butland save while Maupay’s assist was very much a second prize in the grand scheme of things.
A visit from Chelsea on Tuesday seems unlikely to deliver a great deal more and there’s a (currently) blank Gameweek 24 to further dampen enthusiasm in Brighton players.
Palace have Liverpool and Chelsea to face over the next four matches, but in between them come Norwich and Brentford, so sticking with the likes of Gallagher looks wise for now.
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