8 months ago
Although the international break is proving to be a nice break from fantasy football, it doesn’t take long for us to start missing it. One thing I am using this time for is thinking about my wildcard, which I will be pulling after Gameweek 30 into Gameweek 31. This is the most important chip in my books and could be pivotal in finishing the season in a successful manner. So I am going to run through the teams and players I am considering at this time.
I like to play the fixtures peppered with a bit of form. So looking at the below fixture list (which you can find in my pinned tweet), the following teams catch my interest:
Notable absences from this list are Aston Villa, who despite their tremendous season just don’t take my fancy due to their difficult fixtures. Everton are currently on that list for the same reason, although a double Gameweek announcement could change all that.
Leeds are the last notable absence given they face a tough run from GW31-33 (mic, LIV, MNU). Although, some placeholder assets may be on the agenda given their decent finish (bha, TOT, bur, sou, WBA). But with their notable end-of-season fatigue and with this being a particularly hectic season, I don’t see myself banking on their assets.
The first name on my team sheet funnily enough is Fraser Forster (£4.0m). Not that I overly fancy Southampton, but a playing goalkeeper at £4m is a bargain I must have. Ideally, I would have combined him with Ederson (£6.1m) as he is a nailed asset in the rock-solid City defence. But frustratingly, both teams blank in GW31.
So my decision will come down to upgrading Forster to, perhaps, Sanchez (£4.5m), who plays Sheffield Utd in the blank GW. Or going without Ederson — the likely call, as £10.6m is a lot of money on goalkeepers.
Mendy (£5.1m) is the obvious shout with Chelsea keeping 15 clean sheets this season, which is just one less than City who have in fact played an extra game. His fixtures start of great (GW31-34; cry, BHA, whu, FUL) but get difficult at the end (mci, ARS, LEI, avl).
I still will likely go with the Chelsea man. Although I would consider, briefly, Patricio, Leno and Schmeichel.
Every team is different but for me, Cresswell (£5.9m) is nailed which is aided by the fact I got him when he was priced at £5.1m. He is the top-scoring defender, has the most assists (10), 4th for chances created all season (42) and joint 1st with Robertson for big chances created (9). Their fixtures from GW34-38 (bur, EVE, bha, wba, SOU) are also peachy, making Dawson (£4.5m) and Coufal (£4.6m) great picks too.
However, topping the chance creation chart among defenders (52) from nearly 600 less minutes played is Shaw (£5.2m). He is Manchester Utd’s chief creator alongside Bruno, making him nailed in my team.
A possible left-field pick is Alexander-Arnold (£7.3m) who too is looking good of late. He has played 2 games less than his counterpart Robertson yet is still ahead of him (being 2nd) in the chance creation chart with 47 although Robbo is close on 45. While he is joint 3rd for big chances created (8). He is the game’s most expensive defender yet he lies a measly 18th for points with the loss of van Djik heavily dampening Liverpool’s clean sheet potential. However, Liverpool have a fantastic run-in (GW32-38; lee, NEW, mun, SOU, wba, bur, CRY) and the international break may do them some good. They will need to push hard for a Champions League place and TAA will want to be a starter for England at the Euros. He is a punt I like a lot.
I would likely round out my defence with the bread and butter picks of Dias (£6.1m) and Rudiger (£4.6m). I am getting these guys for clean sheets and security of starts. Alonso and Cancelo are of course more exciting picks, but I want my guys to play.
Other names I will be considering are Coady (£4.8m), who may get some clean sheets given Wolves fine fixture run (GW31-36; ful, SHU, BUR, wba, BHA). Fofana (£5.0m) and Castagne (£5.7m) at Leicester. And Veltman (£4.4m) and Adarabioyo (£4.5m) if the budget requires it. If Mari (£4.4m) starts after the international break for Arsenal, he may sneak in.
Bruno (£11.5m) is the game’s top scorer by a distance and he is nailed in my team. 28 attacking returns from 29 games – he is a liability if you don’t have him.
Gundogan (£6.1m) and Kevin de Bruyne (£11.9m) will be the real headache. Since KdB’s return (GW25) Gundogan has only had 1 goal and 0 assists with KdB getting 2 and 1 respectively. However, both players scored against Everton in the FA Cup and in the Champions League against Borrusia Mönchengladbach. I still think Gundogan provides exceptional value so I will likely have him.
While I believe KdB is just falling short of his price tag, with very few big hitters performing, I may throw him in to. What I end up doing is getting Gundogan and taking a 3-week punt on Aubameyang (£11.5m), who I don’t overly fancy, but his fixtures are sensational (shu, FUL, EVE, new, WBA, che, cry, BHA). Although, Mahrez (£8.1m) may take my fancy of the duo instead. He has started 8 of the last 10 games which makes him as solid a pick of any City attacker (with Sterling starting 7 times), picking up 4 goals and assists. Which is probably why Pep is rolling with him, so I will have to consider him too.
Arsenal have the best fixtures until the end of the season. Yet with Aubmeyang’s antics, rotation due to Europa League, and the fact he was shifted out to the left again versus West Ham, it is the apprentice Saka (£5.3m) who interests me more. Saka is less than half Aubmeyang’s price yet looking at the whole season his minutes per xGI, 193, is just shy of Aubmeyang’s 182. Odegaard (£6.0m) is an outside consideration but for now, I need to see more.
Another cut-price player I am interested in is Jota (£6.6m) instead of the once-great Salah (£12.4m). Although I could splash the cash on Auba over Saka the same can’t be said for these two. Jota is the real deal and I think will be instrumental to Liverpool if they were finish the season on the high. While the double-up is not something I am considering given the team’s form. Comparing their minutes per goal it is Jota who comes out on top this season (177 v 138). His minutes per shot is only slightly behind the greedy Salah which is also promising (30.5 v 26.9). There may be fear of security of starts for Jota but in my opinion, Klopp would be mad and arrogant not to start him each week.
Jesse Lingard (£6.1m) will be at the forefront of my thinking. In his 7 games with West Ham, he has returned a phenomenal 5 goals and 3 assists. In my view, he is a better pick than the Chelsea boys Mount (£7.0m) or Havertz (£8.2m). Both are playing very well under Tuchel, but rotation is always a fear. Havertz is an exciting prospect playing as a striker, but we have yet to see him provide the end product. While Mount is playing fantastically well, 5 goals and assists from 2,227mins doesn’t look overly impressive when Lingard is just 2 assists shy from this in 617mins.
Leeds have a terrible run of mci, LIV and MNU from GW31. As a result, Neto (£5.7m) to Raphinha (£5.7m) in GW 36 could be a smart moving, given a surreal fixture run (ful, SHU, BUR, wba, BRI, bur, sou, WBA).
Spurs woes and average fixtures put me off Son (£9.4m) or Bale (£9.7m). I think Kane is enough Spurs coverage. Barnes (£6.7m) was the most sought FPL asset in the league until his injury. In the 11 games before his injury, he racked up 6 goals and 4 assists. He may be back after the international break. His immediate good fixtures (GW32-35; WBA, CRY, sou, NEW) and Leicester’s Champions League push put him on my watchlist. While the impressive Smith-Rowe (£4.2m) may be rotated, he still provides excellent value.
Aside from Bruno, I believe Kane (£11.6m) has been the only other reliant big-hitter. He’s returning an attacking return every 78mins this season which is an incredible rate. Aside from a League Cup final Spurs have nothing else to play for. So Jose will be at his team’s throats trying to get good performances. They also have one of the kinder fixture runs. Making Kane nailed in my team.
Aside from Kane, the strikers department doesn’t inspire me greatly. Vardy (£10.1m) has gone under the radar to a degree this year, despite getting an attacking return every 85mins. He may be a medium-term punt for my squad (GW32-35; WBA, CRY, sou, NEW). But with Iheanacho (£5.7m) scoring 5 goals in his last 3 games, we may be looking at a bargain here. Given the lack of options, I think I might give him a shot. Although, I fear this may be the exception and not the rule as Iheanacho has been mostly a big disappointment since joining the Foxes.
Antonio (£6.7m) may be an injury magnet but when he plays, he is a bargain. This season he has returned every 125mins and West Ham are looking stronger in attack following Lingard’s arrival. Team form, player form and good fixtures have him close to nailed in my team.
Aside from that, the pickings are very slim pickings. I will see have to see how they perform in GW30 after the international break and decide from there. Originally, my plans did not include Bamford (£6.7m) given his difficult upcoming fixtures. While I am also predicting that their work rate catch up with them, but this may not be the case. He has also been providing an attacking return every 106mins, which is a phenomenal rate at his price. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he hangs about in my team.
Lastly, I’d call out Werner (£9.2m) as an outside bet and big differential. But with rotation and his propensity to play out wide I just don’t think he’s worth it.
Consequently, this is how my draft wildcard team shapes up. Looking at it I can see the defence is extremely strong and playing four at the back may be viable, which means benching two attackers. So a Smith-Rowe or Brewster may be a way to go.
Aubameyang is the most vulnerable here. He could become Kevin de Bruyne or even downgraded significantly to allow Vardy join my frontline. I also have £1.2m in the bank which would allow me to swap players more easily if a new must-own emerges.
I reckon this will be a fairly template team once everyone starts playing their wildcard. But I still reckon TAA will be a bit of a differential and potentially Iheanacho. I may need to include one or two more to try shooting up the ranks more, so I am keeping my eye on Mahrez and Havertz.
As always, best of luck to everyone, and if you want to reach out to me with any questions DM me on Twitter or leave a comment below.
Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions