FPL Gameweek 22 – The Fixtures: Liverpool schedule, City revival, Son’s departure & budget gems

We analyse the prospects of the top six sides ahead of Gameweek 22, as picking the best heavy-hitter combination looks a difficult task for FPL bosses. Everton have a very favourable schedule in the medium term, while we run through transfer targets from a host of clubs with some potentially profitable fixtures.

GW22 FIXTURES

Saturday 12th January

West Ham vs Arsenal (12:30)

Brighton vs Liverpool (15:00)

Burnley vs Fulham (15:00)

Cardiff vs Huddersfield (15:00)

Crystal Palace vs Watford (15:00)

Leicester vs Southampton (15:00)

Chelsea vs Newcastle (17:30)

Sunday 13th January

Everton vs Bournemouth (14:15)

Spurs vs Man Utd (16:30)

Monday 14th January

Man City vs Wolves (20:00)

KLOPP ‘TIL YOU DROP

Liverpool have a decent upcoming run of games to bounce back from a first defeat of the season in GW21. Jurgen Klopp’s men face Brighton (a), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester (H), West Ham (a) and Bournemouth (H) in the next five gameweeks. The final two games in that schedule look particularly ripe for attacking returns, while a record of just ten goals conceded (three at home) make the Reds’ defence the league’s meanest by a distance.

Mohamed Salah (£13.3m) is one of the top GW22 transfer targets considering that run of games, while Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) is also hot property after a GW20 hat-trick against Arsenal and another goal at the Etihad in the 2-1 loss to Manchester City. Salah has scored three times (two penalties) and recorded three assists in the last five gameweeks, while also bagging a hat-trick away to Bournemouth in GW16. Having used a 4-3-3 set-up against the Citizens, Jurgen Klopp is expected to revert to 4-2-3-1 for Liverpool’s fixtures against non-top-six sides.

Salah should benefit from a reinstallation at the head of Klopp’s attack, with Xherdan Shaqiri (£7.1m) potentially used in attacking midfield and Firmino dropping into the No 10 role behind the Egypt star. Added to that, a two-man central midfield means first-choice spot-kick taker James Milner (£5.6m) has less chance of being named in the Reds' starting XI. Sadio Mane (£9.5m) could also prosper in the coming gameweeks, though the attacker has posted attacking returns just twice since GW14.

In defence, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.2m) represents excellent value, particularly with second choice right-back Nathaniel Clyne (£4.4m) loaned out to Bournemouth for the rest of the season. Milner is an option on that side of defence but ‘TAA’ should bank substantial league pitch time in January. Andrew Robertson (£6.6m) is probably an even safer pick, with Alberto Moreno (£4.1m) logging just 154 minutes so far this season. Virgil van Dijk (£6.4m) – who is back in training following a knock – and Alisson (£5.9m) are the undroppables in Klopp’s backline. On the Dutch defender missing Liverpool’s FA Cup defeat to Wolves on Monday, Klopp explained: “[Van Dijk] cannot play; he is at home and hopefully it is nothing, but he has played all the games so far, so we had to try to find a solution for that – and we found it, hopefully, with Fabinho (£5.5m).”

Dejan Lovren (£4.9m) could be set for a spell on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury at Molineux, while Joe Gomez (£4.9m) and Joel Matip (£4.9m) may be available as soon as GW23. Klopp said: “[Joe is] getting better, it’s getting better, but he is not yet involved. Joel is maybe a bit closer, I’m not sure, but hopefully he moves completely normal. We have to see how the bone healing is, that’s always how it is when something [has] broke, but from his movements it looks nearly normal. But there are still a few days to go until we can have them in team training, until [Joel] is ready for contact, which for a centre-half is pretty important. Until then we will make all the fitness work. The good thing is Joel can do all the fitness work already since a week or so ago, so that means when he will be back he will be 100 per cent fit. Then he has to get rhythm and everything will be fine.”

PEP IN THEIR STEP

Having closed the gap at the top of the table to four points, Pep Guardiola’s team will be aiming to keep the pressure on leaders Liverpool. The Citizens take on Wolves (H), Huddersfield (a), Newcastle (a), Arsenal (H) and Chelsea (H) to GW26. Sergio Aguero (£11.2m) has scored twice and recorded one assist in three starts since GW19. The striker was not in the matchday squad for City’s FA Cup third round 7-0 thrashing of Rotherham last Sunday as Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) started up front.

The Argentinian, who appears to be Guardiola’s first-choice league striker once more following injury, could shake up the premium forward debate with City’s fixtures appealing from now until the end of the season. Aguero also missed the Citizens’ 9-0 hammering of Burton Albion last night [which guarantees a GW27 blank for City and Everton], with a report suggesting he has not been training due to having the flu but could return to the pitches today. The striker was described as not being “fully fit” by the club’s official website yesterday.

Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) is without a goal in the last four gameweeks but notched an assist in GW20 and GW21, the latter setting up Leroy Sane’s (£9.5m) winner against Liverpool. The England winger remained on the bench yesterday after scoring in a 57-minute FA Cup showing last weekend. He was replaced by Sane in that match, while the German logged 66 minutes in the EFL Cup semi-final. Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) completed both of those games, which should bode well for Sterling and Sane owners.

Benjamin Mendy (£6.2m) could return before the end of this month, something which will undoubtedly impact the pitch time of Sane. City defenders are not currently top of any FPL manager’s shopping list with no clean sheet since GW13, though the Frenchman’s attacking prowess makes him one to monitor as the club’s fixture list continues to look favourable beyond GW26.

After playing 67 minutes against Rotherham, Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m) managed another 58 against Burton last night. After last weekend’s 7-0 win, Guardiola said of the midfielder: “Now he is back he will be fresh in the mind and the legs, and is going to help give us extra in the creativity in the last third, in the fight. Today he was our captain and he showed us why.” The Belgian’s return makes it even more difficult to predict who might play in two midfield spots between himself, David Silva (£8.5m), Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) and Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m).

PUKES OF HAZARD

Ten points off Liverpool, Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea will be looking to consolidate a top-four spot in the coming gameweeks. The Blues’ next five fixtures are against Newcastle (H), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (a), Huddersfield (H) and Man City (a). European competition returns directly after GW26, with the London outfit set to benefit from Europa League duties once more.

After two consecutive blanks, Eden Hazard (£11.1m) owners were not offered much encouragement by Chelsea’s insipid attacking display in a 1-0 defeat to Spurs on Tuesday night. The Belgian returned to the ‘false nine’ role in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final clash, flanked by Willian (£7.2m) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.2m). If the latter remains at Stamford Bridge, he could provide a great fifth midfielder option in the second half of the season. On the performance of ‘CHO’, Sarri said: “Odoi in the last week has been very normal. I have seen him every day in training, he has been really very normal. He is improving, in the last match he played very well and also today I think a very good match. He played like a player of 25 or 26 years, I think. Very good match of application, very good in the defensive phase, very, very good. He was completely normal in this period. I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t read anything.”

Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) and Pedro (£6.3m) made their returns from injury off the bench, while Alvaro Morata (£8.4m) missed out with a hamstring strain. Considering the Spaniard’s negative impact on Hazard’s FPL returns, his absence and the return of several attackers could bode well for the Belgium star. ESPN report that Morata’s agent was in London this week to discuss a loan move for the player.

This weekend’s tie at home to Rafa Benitez’s Magpies will be a huge test of Hazard’s viability in our squads at a time when several premium assets demand attention. Alarmingly for owners of the midfielder, Chelsea have scored just three goals in their last four league outings.

Marcos Alonso (£6.8m) sits atop the defender standings at present, two points ahead of Robertson (115). But the absence of an attacking return since GW11 has many owners considering a redistribution of funds by dropping the 39.6%-owned defender. Emerson Palmieri (£5.2m) did not make the Blues’ squad for the Spurs clash after starting in the FA Cup last weekend, so Alonso’s rotation risk at least seems minimal. On the other hand, the Spanish full-back did not impress (against tougher opposition than Chelsea will face in the near future) at Wembley on Tuesday.

David Luiz (£5.9m) and Kepa (£5.6m) offer cheaper routes into the Chelsea defence for FPL bosses seeking to invest in Sarri’s backline.

UNITED FRONT

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s vibrant United side take on Spurs (a), Brighton (H), Burnley (H), Leicester (a) and Fulham (a) in the next five gameweeks. Paul Pogba (£8.4m) was a late arrival at the club’s training camp in Dubai this week after a shocking Jonjo Shelvey (£5.3m) tackle left the midfielder with a knock.

The Frenchman blanked in that St James’s Park clash, failing to convert into an open goal from an awkward angle after rounding Martin Dubravka (£5.0m). But four goals and four assists since Solskjaer took charge mean the rejuvenated Pogba is a very attractive option for FPL squads, with United going on a highly favourable fixture run after this weekend’s trip to Spurs. No midfielder has managed more shots (16) or shots on target (10) than Pogba since GW18. The World Cup winner was pictured in training today.

Marcus Rashford (£7.3m) is the hottest Man Utd property in FPL terms right now, however, with over 170,000 new owners this week. The striker has started every league tie (4) under ‘OGS’ so far, scoring 31 points courtesy of three goals and two assists. Two double-figure hauls in the last two gameweeks are indicative of Rashford’s explosive potential, though he may have to contend with the fit-again Romelu Lukaku (10.7m) for minutes.

The Belgian scored after being introduced from the bench in both GW20 and GW21. If the striker does earn a start, Rashford could also be moved to one of the wide positions – as happened against Newcastle – with Anthony Martial (£7.3m), Juan Mata (£6.2m) and Jesse Lingard (£6.8m) all at risk of rotation. Alexis Sanchez (£10.0m) made his return from injury against the Magpies, assisting Rashford’s goal, and will also be in the frame for pitch time.

That 2-0 win on Tyneside was United’s first clean sheet under Solskjaer, with the Norweigan’s defensive unit conceding a lot of shots. Luke Shaw (£4.9m) has been a mainstay for the new boss so far and could provide value if the Red Devils can tighten up at the back.

SON SETS

Spurs play Man Utd (H), Fulham (a), Watford (H), Newcastle (H) and Leicester (H) to Gameweek 26. Heung-Min Son (£8.8m) will depart for the Asian Cup after the visit of United, with his return dependent on South Korea’s progress in the tournament. Son’s international side won their opening group game on Monday.

The attacker’s departure could see Erik Lamela (£6.1m) earn minutes, with the Argentinian making his return from the treatment room as a substitute against Chelsea this week. Lucas Moura (£6.9m) failed to make the matchday squad for the Wembley tie due to a knee injury. The introduction of Lamela or Lucas to the starting XI from GW23 could see Mauricio Pochettino revert to 4-2-3-1, having used Son largely in a 4-1-2-1-2 in recent gameweeks. What effect this will have on the output of Harry Kane (£12.6m) remains to be seen.

A 12-point haul away to Cardiff in GW21 means the England striker has now posted at least one attacking return in each of his last ten starts. Kane’s goal against the Bluebirds came with a big slice of luck, while an assist for Son saw the forward bag all three bonus points. Christian Eriksen’s goal at the Cardiff City stadium was the £9.3m midfielder’s fourth in five gameweeks, while Dele Alli (£8.9m) is struggling to justify his price tag with just one attacking return over that period.

Hugo Lloris (£5.4m) represents the safe option for investors in the Spurs defence, while Kieran Trippier (£6.1m) has started four of the last five gameweeks.

SILVA LINING

Marco Silva’s Everton will be looking to bounce back from a sticky Christmas period in games against Bournemouth (H), Southampton (a), Huddersfield (a), Wolves (H) and Watford (a). Despite blanking in both of the previous two gameweeks, Richarlison (£6.9m) fired off seven attempts in the box (two on target). That is encouraging for FPL managers keeping hold of the Brazilian ahead of a great medium-term schedule.

The Toffees’ inability to keep clean sheets (none since GW13) is hampering the points total of Lucas Digne (£5.2m), though four attacking returns in the last six gameweeks demonstrates the Frenchman’s potential further up the field. The defender continues to take a share of Everton’s set-pieces, while he tops the league for crosses (167) among all players.

YO PIERRE

A mixed run of games over the next five sees Unai Emery’s Arsenal play West Ham (a), Chelsea (H), Cardiff (H), Man City (a) and Huddersfield (a). Clean sheets continue to look unlikely for the Gunners, though the attacking prowess of Sead Kolasinac (£4.9m) makes the Bosnian defender a viable option; particularly when Emery uses a wing-back system.

However, ‘Kola’ will now have greater competition for his place, with Nacho Monreal (£5.4m) one of five Arsenal defenders that returned to full training this week. Hector Bellerin (£5.4m), Shkodran Mustafi (£5.4m), Laurent Koscielny (£5.4m) and Dinos Mavropanos (£4.7m) are also back on the pitch, as is Mesut Ozil (£8.0m).

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.4m) did not travel to Blackpool for Arsenal’s FA Cup third round win last weekend. The rested striker is among the top captain options for GW22 as the Gunners make the short trip to the London Stadium, though games against Chelsea and City could require patience from owners; Spurs are the only top-six side that ‘Auba’ has netted against so far this season.

The Gabon striker now leads the league for big chances missed (15) while sitting joint-top for goals scored (14) alongside Kane. Fixtures at home to the Bluebirds and away to the Terriers should provide the Arsenal forward with further opportunities to boost his golden boot push.

BEST OF THE REST

WOLVES

Next five gameweeks: Man City (a), Leicester (H), West Ham (H), Everton (a), Newcastle (H)

Potential transfer targets Matt Doherty (£5.2m), Jonny (£4.3m), Raul Jimenez (£6.3m)

CRYSTAL PALACE

Next five gameweeks: Watford (H), Liverpool (a), Southampton (a), Fulham (H), West Ham (H)

Potential transfer targets Vicente Guaita (£4.2m), James Tomkins (£4.3m), Aaron-Wan Bissaka (£4.5m), Luka Milivojevic (£6.1m)

CARDIFF

Next five gameweeks: Huddersfield (H), Newcastle (a), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (H), Southampton (a)

Potential transfer targets Neil Etheridge (£4.6m), Victor Camarasa (£4.6m)

WEST HAM

Next five gameweeks: Arsenal (H), Bournemouth (a), Wolves (a), Liverpool (H), Palace (a)

Potential transfer targets Felipe Anderson (£7.4m), Marko Arnautovic (£6.9m)

BURNLEY

Next five gameweeks: Fulham (H), Watford (a), Man Utd (a), Southampton (H), Brighton (a)

Potential transfer targets Dwight McNeil (£4.4m), Ashley Barnes (£5.6m)

SOUTHAMPTON

Next five gameweeks: Leicester (a), Everton (H), Palace (H), Burnley (a), Cardiff (H)

Potential transfer targets Jan Bednarek (£3.9m), Cedric (£4.2m), Nathan Redmond (£5.2m)

WATFORD

Next five gameweeks: Palace (a), Burnley (H), Spurs (a), Brighton (a), Everton (H)

Potential transfer targets Kiko Femenia (£4.2m), Roberto Pereyra (£6.2m), Gerard Deulofeu (£5.5m), Troy Deeney (£5.9m)