Barkley’s goal threat makes him a value alternative to Grealish in Villa midfield |

Gameweek 22 is almost upon us after a quick turnaround, so let’s have a quick look at some more differential options for the midweek fixtures and beyond.

This time, we’ve selected low-owned picks at Aston Villa, Leeds United and Chelsea, all of whom found the back of the net last weekend.

As always, to qualify, the player must have a Fantasy Premier League ownership of 5% or less at the time of writing.

Ross Barkley

  • FPL ownership: 0.8%
  • Price: £5.9m
  • GW22-26 fixtures: WHU | ARS | bha | LEI | lee 

Ross Barkley (£5.9m) returned to Aston Villa’s starting XI last month, having missed seven league games through injury.

Despite initially looking a bit off the pace, he is now back to full fitness and announced his return to form with a goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Southampton.

The 27-year-old got his Villa Park career off to a flyer when he scored in his first couple of games, but hobbled off just seconds into Gameweek 9 with a hamstring injury. In his absence, manager Dean Smith moved talisman Jack Grealish (£7.7m) into more of a central role, with Anwar El Ghazi (£5.6m) and Bertrand Traoré (£5.9m) on the flanks. Villa lost just two games during that period, and the wide players impressed, but Barkley was reinstated as soon as he returned to fitness, highlighting his importance to the team.

Since making his debut, Barkley has created 2.24 chances per 90 minutes, which ranks 12th amongst all midfielders who have played for over 500 minutes. That is some way behind Grealish’s league-leading total of 3.36, but he is shooting more often than his colleague, taking 2.81 shots per 90 minutes, compared to his captain’s 2.21.

Villa now sit ninth in the table with games in hand over most teams above them. The fixtures are appealing too, especially their away schedule, which sees them take on Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds United, Newcastle United and Sheffield United before the end of March. That’s important, given that only Manchester United and Leicester City have taken more points on the road so far this season.

Grealish remains the headline pick in Villa’s midfield, but if funds are tighter, Barkley is a viable alternative and could offer real value in the coming weeks.

Jack Harrison

  • FPL ownership: 2.1%
  • Price: £5.4m
  • GW22-26 fixtures: EVE | CRY | ars | wol | AVL

Jack Harrison (£5.4m) has been in fine form of late, with three goals in his last five league appearances.

Following his strike at Leicester City, he has now been directly involved in nine goals this season, and the numbers suggest it won’t be long before he’s into double figures.

The 24-year-old, who is on loan from Manchester City, has already created 36 chances for his team-mates this term. Amongst midfielders, only Grealish, Bruno Fernandes (£11.4m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), Mason Mount (£6.8m) and Pedro Neto (£5.8m) have managed more. His goal threat is on the up too, having registered more goal attempts, shots in the box and big chances than colleague Raphinha (£5.4m) over the last six matches.

His positioning sees him supply Leeds’ width on the left, but after Leicester switched to a 3-4-3 in the second-half on Sunday, Marcelo Bielsa responded by moving Harrison into the forward press. That in turn meant he found himself in more central areas than usual, which is something to keep an eye on going forward. It’s also worth noting that he is a firm favourite of Bielsa and is rarely omitted from the starting XI. In fact, he’s now played the full 90 minutes in seven of his last eight league appearances.

Harrison is one of the Whites’ most important players and now, in a really good moment, could be an effective differential for Gameweek 22 and beyond.

Marcos Alonso

  • FPL ownership: 1.6%
  • Price: £5.6m
  • GW22-26 fixtures: tot | shu | NEW | sou | MUN

Marcos Alonso (£5.6m) returned to Chelsea’s starting XI under new manager Thomas Tuchel on Sunday, and took full advantage of the opportunity with a goal and 14 FPL points.

Making his first league start since September, the 30-year-old operated as a left-sided wing-back in a 3-4-3 shape, a role he has previously excelled in for the Blues. He finished the match with two shots in the box, six penalty area touches and three crosses, while amongst team-mates, only Mount had more touches in the final third. It’s also worth noting he took two of Chelsea’s four corners during the game.

As we pointed out last week when tipping up Antonio Rüdiger (£4.5m), change is inevitable under a new manager, especially with Tuchel’s reputation for tactical flexibility, but if they are to continue using a similar shape in the coming weeks, it raises the appeal of their wing-backs, who will naturally get into more advanced positions in the box. 

A move for Alonso this week does carry risk, knowing that Ben Chilwell (£6.1m) is also pushing for a start, but there is a lot of upside too, given the Spaniard’s potential for big hauls. Will he now become first-choice? It’s impossible to say, but if Tuchel does opt to regularly use a back-three system, he’s certainly put forward a strong case.

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