Gameweek 22 Captain and Player Picks
Holly Shand from Fantasy Football Community returns with captaincy corner and her three player picks in three positions for Gameweek 22.
Gameweek 21 seems like a lifetime ago, but who could possibly forget that surprise omission of Jamie Vardy from the Leicester squad on New Year’s Day. It wasn’t the best way to start the new year and fortunes depended on where the Vice Captain chip lay. Those who went with the consistent Kevin De Bruyne were disappointed, but there was a slice of luck for those who put the Vice Captain on one of the Liverpool midfielders. Both Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were rewarded with promising returns.
Gameweek 22 comes after a relative rest in the schedule for our Premier League sides. Most teams played a depleted squad for their opening FA Cup 3rd Round fixture last weekend and only four teams were in action midweek in the opening leg of the EFL Cup Semi-Finals (Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester and Aston Villa). There’s more rest in the midweek following Gameweek 22, with just FA Cup 3rd Round Replays to contend with for Newcastle, Watford, Spurs, Manchester United and Wolves. It’s a busy time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
The shield pick is likely to be the most captained player of the week, allowing you to play safe and keep pace with the pack. The sword pick will be a less popular selection: if they perform it can shoot you up the overall rankings, but the risk from failure is higher.
Shield Pick: Jamie Vardy vs Southampton (H)
Anytime Goalscorer Odds: 4/7
Jamie Vardy is back for Gameweek 22 and we are all patiently waiting for that new baby celebration. This weekend Leicester face a Saints side they’ve already beaten 9-0 this season, with Vardy picking up 20 points in that reverse fixture with a hat-trick, assist and three bonus points. Vardy was in sensational form before his post-Christmas break, having brought fantasy returns in 10 consecutive fixtures, bookended by blanks against Liverpool. Hopefully he can return with the same momentum and those fresh legs could prove crucial. Only Liverpool and Manchester City have had more big chances than Leicester over their last four games. Vardy’s captaincy percentage may take a hit this week: KDB has exceeded his ownership, with plenty of managers getting frustrated by a stop-start festive period. Will you play safe with the Shield Pick?
Sword Pick: Kevin De Bruyne vs Aston Villa (A)
Anytime Goalscorer Odds: 7/5
Kevin De Bruyne is a worthy alternative for the captaincy, if you don’t fancy going with Jamie Vardy. He’s been known to punish fantasy managers who fail to give him the armband and significantly, the fixture is particularly appealing. Aston Villa have been the worst defence in the Premier League over the last four games: in a seemingly favourable fixture run, they’ve conceded more big chances (13) than any other side, with the highest shots in the box conceded. In the same period, De Bruyne has one goal and three assists in his last four Premier League games. The only uncertainty is his playing position, having played higher against Arsenal and deeper against Everton. Are you going to take a risk in selecting the Sword Pick?
I share my top three players for each Gameweek, selecting one defender, one midfielder and one striker. These are players that I’m tipping for the FPL Dream Team and they could also make intriguing differential captain decisions for you to consider too.
DEF: John Lundstram vs West Ham (H)
It’s been a quiet festive period for John Lundstram, with no attacking returns and just one clean sheet over the last four games. It’s been tricky fixtures for the Blades though, and now there’s a let-up in the schedule with West Ham visiting Brammall Lane. Only Leicester have kept more clean sheets than Sheffield United this season, with just Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson having more attacking returns among fantasy defenders. Can he achieve the holy grail of attacking return, clean sheet and bonus points?
MID: Mohammed Salah vs Spurs (A)
The pendulum regularly swings between Liverpool midfielders, but it’s Mo Salah who I’m expecting to have the edge in this game. He has three goals in his last four games, plus he scored in the reverse fixture. Spurs should be easily overcome by the Premier League leaders, and crucially Mo Salah will be on penalties too with James Milner injured. Salah has an excellent record against Spurs, scoring four goals and grabbing one assist in six Premier League starts. Liverpool have had more big chances over the last four than any other Premier League side (12), despite having played one less game.
FOR: Tammy Abraham vs Burnley (H)
Tammy Abraham has seen fire sales for weeks, but he’s finally back in contention, having returned a goal and an assist in his last two Premier League games. Burnley are struggling defensively right now, with many managers off-loading their goalkeeper Nick Pope. Only Riyad Mahrez has had more shots in the box than Abraham over the course of the last four league games, with an up-turn in form much needed for this faltering Chelsea side.
Until next time…
Good luck and Happy New Year!
Find even more Fantasy Premier League Tips over on Holly’s website: Fantasy Football Community