Throughout the 2022/23 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) season, our team of Pro Pundits, Hall of Famers and guest contributors will be sharing their thoughts, tips and own transfer plans.
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Here, five-time top 1k finisher Tom Freeman tackles some of Gameweek 22’s hottest topics.
Mohamed Salah (£12.8m) has now blanked in four straight matches, a period that has seen Liverpool score just three goals.
No Reds player has accrued more minutes (450) than the Egyptian since the Premier League resumed in Gameweek 17, yet he is averaging just 4.2 points per match.
There has been a notable drop-off in the number of shots he is taking, too, which also extends to his rate of non-penalty xG (NPxG).
- GW17-21: 2.00 shots / 0.39 NPxG
- GW1-16: 3.65 shots / 0.51 NPxG
- 2021/22: 4.51 shots / 0.62 NPxG
(all stats per 90 minutes)
Above: Mohamed Salah’s shot map (shots on target in green) since the Premier League resumed
Five games is too small a sample to draw any lasting conclusions, but Salah and Liverpool are undoubtedly in a bit of a slump.
The returns of Diogo Jota (£8.8m), Roberto Firmino (£8.0m) and Luis Diaz (£7.8m) should help, plus more training time for Cody Gakpo (£7.9m), but for now, transferring Salah out for Bruno Fernandes (£9.9m) is an option I’m strongly considering if Man Utd double in Gameweek 22.
RASHFORD TRIPLE CAPTAIN?
With five post-World Cup goals in six Premier League games, Marcus Rashford (£7.2m) is officially back.
From Gameweek 17 onwards, he is averaging 8.2 points per match, a figure only beaten by Solly March (£5.1m, 9.2) and Kieran Trippier (£6.0m, 9.0).
His rate of 3.15 shots/0.61 NPxG per 90 minutes offers further encouragement, but for those of you – including myself – who haven’t already used the Triple Captain chip, is he a viable option if Man Utd do get their double?
Firstly, Rashford is clearly in a very good moment and looks back to his best in Erik ten Hag’s 4-2-3-1.
“Marcus is doing really well but also [important] is the team to get the right shape so he can bring his strengths in and then he’s unstoppable with his speed, with his dribbles, with his directness.” – Erik ten Hag
“I believe when Marcus’ positioning is on the back of the defending line, there is almost no better player in the world.” – Erik ten Hag
Rashford isn’t on penalties, which I do like my Triple Captains to have in their locker, but all in all, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
So, I have no problem with Rashford himself, but will he play both games?
Ten Hag hasn’t tended to rotate his line-ups too much up until now, but Man Utd are about to enter a period of fixture congestion:
- Wednesday 25 January: Nottingham Forest (a) – League Cup
- Saturday 28 January: Reading (h) – FA Cup
- Wednesday 1 February: Nottingham Forest (h) – League Cup
- Saturday 4 February: Crystal Palace (h) – Gameweek 22
- Wednesday 8 February: Leeds United (h) – Gameweek 22*
- Sunday 12 February: Leeds United (a) – Gameweek 23
- Thursday 16 February: Barcelona (a) – Europa League
*This match will only go ahead if neither Man Utd/Leeds need FA Cup fourth-round replays
In an ideal scenario, Rashford will sit out one of the next three cup ties, which would boost his expected minutes in Gameweek 22. However, even if that doesn’t come to fruition, a Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday turnaround of league games isn’t the worst.
Now, let’s take a look at the opposition.