Gameweek 22 brings plenty of excitement, with this week’s matches headlined by Manchester United traveling to take on Chelsea. However, in terms of fantasy matchups, three stand out from all the rest: Manchester City at home against Cardiff City, Arsenal and their flying-high defense hosting struggling Fulham, and Liverpool’s deadly attackers playing at Anfield against visiting Aston Villa.
Certainly all the big names from Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool are great plays this week and will be littered across many fantasy squads. Nevertheless, be sure not to ignore some of the lesser players on those rosters. Their names may not come as heralded as a Suarez, but their fantasy value can be just as much.
In addition to the savory matchups for some of the top squads, some of the bottom teams also find themselves in nice matchups for fantasy purposes. Crystal Palace is a team that could offer lots of fantasy potential with a stat-padding matchup against visiting Stoke City. And while Hull City have been doing plenty to improve their attack, they have not addressed a defense that has struggled on the road this season. Norwich City will be primed to take advantage of the traveling Tigers and some of their players could be as valuable as the missing Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie used to be.
Here are some solid options to complete your roster for Gameweek 22:
Joe Hart seems to have regained his swagger, ability, and playing time in goal for Manchester City. And while most City fans are just waiting for the day for him to implode again, they will certainly have to wait for a different week. Manchester City host Cardiff City on Saturday and are set up nicely to keep another clean sheet. They have blanked their opponents in two of their previous three matches, and hosting Cardiff City should add to that tally. The Bluebirds have scored the second-fewest road goals, and there are plenty of reasons for their poor form. One is their poor accuracy in matches away from home; Cardiff average under three shots on target per away match, ranking them 18 out of the 20 Premier League teams, while producing the worst accuracy in the league in road ties. Hart should not be asked to do too much Saturday and should be able to keep a second consecutive clean sheet.
Aleksander Kolarov has kicked off 2014 with a bang. In the two Premier League matches Manchester City have played in January, Kolarov has a goal and an assist, along with a clean sheet. We have already discussed City’s good chances of shutting out Cardiff City, but Kolarov is a threat to do so much more. He is currently second amongst defenders with four assists, and no defender has attempted more shots this season than Kolarov. There is a reason he was ranked as our top defender this week.
Bacary Sagna is another defender that spends a lot of time on the opponents' half of the field. In addition, he makes the list this week thanks to his clean sheet potential. No team is playing better defensively than Arsenal right now. The Gunners have allowed just two goals in their last five matches and host struggling Fulham on Saturday. The Cottagers average less than one goal per road match, while attempting the fewest number of shots this season. Fulham spend less time in their opponents half of the field than any other Premier League team, giving Sagna opportunities to move forward and help out in the Arsenal attack. The combination of offense and defense make Sagna a very interesting fantasy option for Gameweek 22.
Damien Delaney and Crystal Palace host Stoke City on Saturday. Even though the Potters managed three goals against Liverpool last weekend, they have struggled on the road. In their last four away matches, Stoke City have managed just one goal and a much improved Crystal Palace defense should prove worthy of the task this weekend. In addition, Stoke City have allowed the second-most goals to opposing defenders this season. Delaney leads all Eagles defenders in shots, and has been very accurate on his attempts this season. He has an opportunity to provide fantasy value similar to some of the bigger-name defenders this weekend.
Kevin Mirallas has been one of the more pleasant surprises for Everton this season. The midfielder has three goals and five assists on the season, and only Romelu Lukaku has been involved in more Everton goals. However, it is his recent form that finds him listed here. In his last two matches, Mirallas has attempted 11 shots and converted one for a goal. As teammate Ross Barkley (toe) continues to miss time, Mirallas should see more involvement in the Everton attack. West Bromwich Albion allow their opponents plenty of chances to score each week, and if Everton are able to convert, expect Mirallas to be involved in some way.
Nathan Redmond has attempted almost twice as many shots as any other Norwich City player this season. Unfortunately, he has only been able to convert one of his 47 shots into a goal. Saturday, Redmond will get more chances to score against a traveling Hull City. The Tigers defense has been porous in road matches, as they allow 1.9 goals per away match and have the lowest save percentage of any Premier League team. If Redmond continues to pressure the opponent’s goal as he has all year, he should have a good opportunity to pick up his second goal of the season.
Jason Puncheon has found himself in plenty of “couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn” jokes after his abysmal penalty kick attempt last weekend. However, that one kick should not reflect the type of player Puncheon is. In his previous match, Puncheon converted on a penalty kick against Norwich City, proving that he most certainly can hit the broad side of a barn. He continues to lead Crystal Palace in shots, and shots on target, and will have a great matchup in Gameweek 22. The Eagles host a Stoke City squad that have allowed the second most away-goals this season. The Potters struggle to prevent their opponents from taking shots, which is never a good recipe for preventing goals. The high number of shots and poor prevention of goals from Stoke City make Puncheon an interesting fantasy option this weekend.
Andy Carroll has finally made his return to the pitch this season, and it did not take the West Ham forward long to get involved in the scoring. After coming on in the 72nd minute last weekend, Carroll assisted on a goal in stoppage time that sealed the victory for the Baggies. Carroll has the ability to contribute offensively, as he proved in the second half of last season, scoring six goals and assisting on another four in his final 14 appearances. Each week should bring more playing time for Carroll as he gets back to full match fitness, and last week proved any amount of time is enough for him to make an appearance on the score sheet. His opponent in Gameweek 22, Newcastle United, allows the highest accuracy rate of any Premier League squad in road matches, and a player of Carroll’s caliber should be able to find a way to take advantage of his opportunities.
Wilfried Bony has been involved in over 25 percent of Swansea City’s goals this season, and that number has only increased since he returned from a hamstring injury a little over a month ago. The Swansea striker continues to lead the team in shots, and has become the main option in the Swans’ attack. Swansea have only been held scoreless in one home match this season and Tottenham have yet to keep a road clean sheet under new manager Tim Sherwood. With Tottenham continuing to focus on the attack, Bony should have some good opportunities to put up some goals on the opposite side of the pitch for Swansea this weekend.