An early look ahead to Gameweek 22

Friday8:00pmBrighton v Crystal Palace
Saturday12:30pmMan City v Chelsea
Saturday3:00pmBurnley v Leicester
Newcastle v Watford
Norwich v Everton
Wolves v Southampton
Saturday5:30pmAston Villa v Man United
Sunday2:00pmLiverpool v BrentfordWest Ham v Leeds
Sunday4:30pmTottenham v Arsenal
Tuesday7:30pmBurnley v Watford
Tuesday8:00pmBrighton v Chelsea
Wednesday7:30pmLeicester v Tottenham
Wednesday8:00pmBrentford v Man United

Fantasy Premier League (FPL) deadline is 18:30 (GMT) on Friday 14 January

STRONG FIXTURE

LIVERPOOL

Should Liverpool’s home match with Brentford go ahead – potentially in doubt due to the Covid outbreak that is jeopardising their Carabao Cup semi final against Arsenal – it stands out as the best on-paper fixture for FPL managers. It happens to coincide with the AFCON departures of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, which adds uncertainty to Jurgen Klopp’s line-up but makes Diogo Jota an essential asset to keep. As always, Trent Alexander-Arnold is massively backed to do well and some could even go with him as captain. For those using a Free Hit, picking a third Liverpool option in the absence of Salah is tough. Perhaps another defender like Andrew Robertson but they may not even have Roberto Firmino, having missed the draw at Chelsea because of Covid.

WEST HAM

When many managers stacked up on West Ham ahead of Double Gameweek 21, their eyes were also firmly on this hosting of Leeds. Although the visitors just picked up a vital three points against Burnley, their season has been disappointing and hampered by injuries to key players. Only bottom pair Norwich and Newcastle have conceded more goals, so those with Hammers assets Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio will be expected to deliver a return. Defensively, expectations aren’t as high for Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson and Ben Johnson.

WATFORD

Thursday’s Double Gameweek 22 announcement brought many shrugged shoulders, as the pair of games faced by Man United, Leicester and Chelsea seem tricky. The only clearly outstanding double is for Watford, albeit a side still without a clean sheet so even their excitment is purely attack-based. Many active teams already have either Emmanuel Dennis or Joshua King and a double versus Newcastle (a) and Burnley (a) could tempt some to get both, especially those on a Free Hit. The immediate game after is Norwich (H) so it’s no exaggeration to state that this one week will have a huge impact on Watford’s Premier League status for next season.

BURNLEY

Similarly to Watford, the Double Gameweek of Burnley offers good fixtures but for a team with few appealing options. Welcoming the leaky defences of both the Hornets and Leicester to Turf Moor offers potential to striker Chris Wood, despite only scoring three times this season and being hampered by Maxwel Cornet‘s departure for AFCON duty. Beyond that, it’s just about possibly snatching a low-risk defender like Matt Lowton or Charlie Taylor, although clean sheet chances could depend on the availability of goalkeeper Nick Pope (illness). Future fixtures are about to get very tough for the Clarets, so the Watford clash is a true six-pointer.

INJURIES / BANS

Here is a round-up of the injuries we know of, alongside those serving or nearing a suspension.

TRANSFERS SO FAR

As of Friday afternoon, these are the most transferred in and out players of the week.

These tend to remain very similar by deadline, unless a major injury or return develops.

The mass Salah sales continue, with a further 880,000 believing he’s too expensive to hold during his international duties with Egypt. Because of this, the five most-bought players of the Gameweek are all midfielders. Led by Son Heung-min, popular purchases include the aforementioned Jota and Bowen, alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Bukayo Saka – the Arsenal man has produced attacking returns in five successive matches.

However, on Friday, Antonio Conte confirmed a Son injury will rule him out for the next few weeks. This will massively shake things up and it will be interesting to see the reaction of 375,000 managers who have already been burnt by their early transfer.

A further two of the most-sold five are because of AFCON – midfielder Said Benrahma and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. It’s an easy collection to explain, as Reece James has suffered a bad hamstring injury and Conor Gallagher has missed Crystal Palace’s last two matches through illness.

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