What a day of football we had on Sunday, with drama at both ends of the Premier League table.
Rather than bombard you with the usual Scout Notes (let’s be honest, any takeaways from Gameweek 38 will be long forgotten by August), we instead bring you this briefer game-by-game round-up of the final day.
By Tom Freeman and Neale Rigg
MANCHESTER CITY 3-2 ASTON VILLA
Manchester City retained their Premier League crown by coming from two goals down to beat Aston Villa, although there was scant reward for owners of the Citizens’ players in FPL. Only Kevin De Bruyne (£12.1m) of the players owned by more than 1% of the top 10k delivered anything more than appearance points on Sunday; the Belgian’s assist took him to 21 attacking returns in his last 20 starts. As for Villa, their record of having not beaten any top-seven club under Steven Gerrard still stands but neither Liverpool nor City have defeated the Villans by more than one goal this season. With a few more decent acquisitions and a full pre-season under their belt, they will be ones to watch next year. Matty Cash (£5.3m) is certainly someone who has prospered under the current regime: his goal at the Etihad made it six attacking returns in 27 appearances since Dean Smith departed, on top of nine clean sheets.
LIVERPOOL 3-1 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Mohamed Salah (£13.1m) made sure that this was his best-ever season for FPL points since 2017/18 with a goal off the bench in Sunday’s ultimately futile 3-1 win over Wolves. That was only the Egyptian’s fourth non-penalty goal in 15 post-AFCON appearances and it’ll be interesting to see just how ‘essential’ FPL managers deem him come Gameweek 1 of 2022/23, with the premium pool set to be even bigger thanks the addition of Erling Haaland. Six points was a modest reward for the 3.2% of managers (top 10k ownership figures) who kept hold of him but in truth, many of the Salah replacements – including goalscoring teammate Sadio Mane (£11.8m) – outscored him in Gameweek 38. Despite the loss of a clean sheet due to Pedro Neto’s (£6.2m) goal, Joel Matip (£5.3m) finished 2021/22 as the best-value player in FPL based on points per million. His assist for Salah’s strike meant that he ended the campaign having averaged 5.5 points per match, a figure beaten by just four other defenders.
NORWICH CITY 0-5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Salah ended up with only a share of the Golden Boot as Son Heung-min‘s (£11.2m) brace in Spurs’ comfortable win at Norwich meant that the South Korean winger and FPL’s leading points scorer ended 2021/22 tied on 23 Premier League goals. What an achievement this was for Son given that not one of his strikes was a penalty, and we now await the inevitable starting price rise following his 258-point campaign. Son, the most-owned and most-captained player in the top 10k in Gameweek 38, had to take a back seat for much of Sunday’s contest as Dejan Kulusevski (£6.3m) and Harry Kane (£12.5m) ran up double-digit hauls. Kulusevski will be an interesting proposition next season if Son is priced out of our grasp: since the Swede made his full debut in Gameweek 26, Spurs’ front three are first, second and third for FPL points among players.
ARSENAL 5-1 EVERTON
Arsenal recorded a comfortable 5-1 win over a much-changed Everton side missing the likes of Richarlison (£7.6m) on Sunday, but had to settle for a fifth-place finish following Tottenham Hotspur’s win. Gabriel Martinelli (£5.3m) surprisingly stepped up ahead of Bukayo Saka (£6.7m) to convert a first-half penalty, before goals from Eddie Nketiah (£5.7m), Cedric Soares (£4.2m), Gabriel Magalhaes (£5.3m) and Martin Odegaard (£5.6m) sealed the win. As a result, the Gunners will compete in next season’s Europa League and will have to cope with a more demanding Thursday-Sunday-Thursday schedule. Meanwhile, after conceding another goal in Gameweek 38, the Gunners have now failed to keep a single clean sheet in each of their last 10 Premier League matches.
CHELSEA 2-1 WATFORD
Chelsea ended their 2021/22 campaign with a narrow win over already-relegated Watford at Stamford Bridge. Kai Havertz (£7.9m) put the hosts ahead before Ross Barkley (£5.2m) netted a Reece James (£6.5m) cross after Dan Gosling (£4.7m) had grabbed a late consolation for the visitors. Antonio Rudiger (£6.1m), meanwhile, signed off before his summer move to Real Madrid with a nine-pointer, courtesy of a rather fortunate clean sheet – plus maximum bonus – after he was withdrawn prior to Thomas Tuchel’s side conceding. Elsewhere, Ben Chilwell (£5.6m) came off the bench late on for the first time since rupturing his cruciate knee ligament in November, and is a name to look out for when next season’s FPL prices are revealed.
LEICESTER CITY 4-1 SOUTHAMPTON
James Maddison (£6.9m) scored for the fourth successive league match as an expected thrashing of Southampton eventually materialised. Maddison had blanked in 11 of his first 12 appearances of the season but in the subsequent 23 run-outs, he has delivered a phenomenal 22 attacking returns. Jamie Vardy (£10.3m) also continued his last-season purple patch with his sixth attacking return in four matches. While Vardy did suffer an injury-ravaged campaign, he still ended up as the best forward for points per start (5.9). Leicester being out of Europe next season will help alleviate any concerns over rotation and focus matters on the league; we saw the benefits of that with Arsenal for much of the year. As for sorry Southampton, who ended the season in relegation form, dead-ball whizz James Ward-Prowse (£6.4m) made it 10 goals for 2021/22 with a late penalty and ended up finishing over 50 FPL points clear of his nearest teammate.
BURNLEY 1-2 NEWCASTLE UNITED
Burnley’s six-season stay in the Premier League came to an end on Sunday after a 2-1 loss to Newcastle United at Turf Moor. The Clarets knew that victory would ensure survival, but a brace of goals from Callum Wilson (£7.1m) handed Eddie Howe’s side the win despite Maxwel Cornet’s (£5.8m) consolation. Sean Dyche was sacked in April with Burnley in the relegation zone, and despite interim manager Mike Jackson inspiring them to three successive wins after his appointment, they failed to win any of the final four games of 2021/22. As a result, they will join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship next season, both of whom were relegated earlier this month. The Magpies, meanwhile, are ones to watch next year, having earned 38 points in 2022 – a total exceeded by only Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
BRENTFORD 1-2 LEEDS UNITED
Leeds United clinched Premier League safety with Jack Harrison (£5.5m) netting an injury-time winner in a 2-1 victory over nine-man Brentford. After a nervy first half, Raphinha (£6.3m) converted a penalty before Thomas Frank’s side fought back and levelled through Sergi Canos (£5.5m). However, the Spaniard was booked for taking his shirt off celebrating, before then being shown a second yellow card shortly after for a foul, leaving his side with nine men after Kristoffer Ajer (£4.4m) had been forced off through injury (the Bees had already used their substitutions). Leeds were then able to capitalise via Harrison’s added-time winner, which means they avoid dropping to the Championship.
CRYSTAL PALACE 1-0 MANCHESTER UNITED
Crystal Palace ended the season on 12 clean sheets, a tally beaten only by the top five this season. It hasn’t been a fluke, either: only Manchester City have conceded fewer big chances than the Eagles in 2021/22. Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m) was Palace’s match-winner in their victory over a sorry Manchester United, taking his tally to 14 for the season – no midfielder outside of the ‘big six’ can match that. As for the Red Devils, the only positive from this dismal season is that their key assets will be cheaper in FPL next year. Let’s hope Erik ten Hag can revitalise a cut-price Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m), for example, after the Portuguese finished with a points-per-match average (4.2) inferior to 45 other players.
BRIGHTON 3-1 WEST HAM
West Ham United will play Europa Conference League football next season after a 3-1 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day. Michail Antonio (£7.3m) put the Hammers in front with a wonderful strike that found the top corner, but Graham Potter’s side hit back through Joel Veltman (£4.2m), Pascal Gross (£5.6m) and Danny Welbeck (£6.0m) goals. The latter has certainly finished the campaign strongly, too, with at least one attacking return in each of his last five appearances, while the Seagulls suffered defeat in just one of their final nine matches, a 3-0 loss to Manchester City in April.
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