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FPL: The Really Wild(Card) Show – Part Deux

Have you made it to this stage of the season with your FPL Wildcard intact? If so, congratulations. Your patience may very well pay off now that the season has settled down, consistent performers are now known and the International Breaks are behind us (for now).The Premier League season is about to enter into a period of increasingly frequent fixtures from now until Gameweek 23, which ends on Jan 3rd next year. During this time, all players from all teams could be prone to the dreaded game of rotation roulette. Some managers are more infamous for this than others. Some teams have the luxury of larger squads which allow this to be facilitated.

What’s the point of mentioning this then? Well, if you have your Wildcard active right now, you MUST ensure you have a “playing bench”. Yes, the temptation will be there to stick a couple of non-playing defenders in because they cost £4.0m or less (looking at you Uwe Hunemeier of Brighton!) and a £4.3m midfielder (Marko Grujic of Liverpool fits the bill if you are interested – he has played for a whole 7 minutes this season after all!)

Naturally this strategy, along with a cheap as chips goalkeeper will allow you to spend that little bit extra on your first XI. But at what cost? We have all by now fallen foul of Pep Guardiola’s unfathomable rotation policy at Man City, or the increasingly frustrating innocuous injuries to some of our big name players. Don’t forget, the yellow cards are starting to stack up and come into play now. Nicholas Otamendi has racked up 5 yellows and is banned for Gameweek 12 for instance.

But is saving a million sheets that vital when compared to only being able to field 10 players or less on any given gameweek? Some would argue yes. I would argue no. Different strokes for different folks as they say.

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Whether you are on a Wildcard or not, I would strongly suggest you adopt a transfer policy from the minute you’ve read this article to ensure you have as many players in your squad of 15 that start or feature in every single game. If you don’t, please don’t come crying to me as you can now consider yourself forewarned! And forewarned is forearmed as they also say. And by forearmed, I’m not referring to how Marouane Fellaini approaches every single aerial challenge he goes in for…

So, how about some analysis to give you some ideas for your Wildcard squad, or for just transfer targets in general if you spunked it away in Gameweek 3 or activated it in a fit of rage the last time Pep dropped one of his performing midfielders for no reason whatsoever.

Let’s first take a look at the current form players in terms of FPL points. A decent timescale for me would be the last 4 games, which have all taken place since the last International Break. It is worth pointing out the obvious that all of these stats are skewed by virtue of these players scoring a “once in a career” goal or grabbing the odd assist. Ideally we would want the defender stats to just consist of clean sheets and bonus points, but in all honesty there aren’t enough hours in my day to work that out!!

Goalkeepers:

Goalkeepers

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Nick Pope

(BUR)

4.5

4

vs WHU (H)

3

vs MCY (A)

9

vs NEW (H)

8

vs SOU (A)

6

Points per GW

David De Gea

(MUN)

5.7

9

vs LIV (A)

1

vs HUD (A)

9

vs TOT (H)

4

vs CHE (A)

5.75

Points per GW

Jonas Lossl (HUD)

4.6

1

vs SWA (A)

5

vs MUN (H)

8

vs LIV (A)

8

vs WBA (H)

4

Points per GW

Conclusion:

If you are adopting a one goalkeeper strategy, then David De Gea is the boy. At almost 0% risk of rotation, it will only be injury or unforeseen circumstances that will prevent him playing every league game.

If you don’t like spending too much in the GK positions, then the pairing of Pope and Lossl is one worthy of consideration. A better rotation pairing would arguably be one of these two with Asmir Begovic of Bournemouth (also averaging 4 points per game over the last 4 weeks, the same as Lossl).

Moving onto the defence, in order to narrow it down slightly I will assess 5 premium priced players (£5.8m – £7.0m), 5 mid-range players (£4.8m – £5.7m)  and 5 budget players (£4.7m and below).

Defenders (Premium):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Cesar Azpilicueta

(CHE)

6.8

-1

vs CRY (A)

7

vs WAT (H)

8

vs BOU (A)

12

vs MUN (H)

6.5

Points per GW

Jan Vertonghen

(TOT)

6.0

5

vs BOU (H)

5

vs LIV (H)

2

vs MUN (A)

9

vs CRY (H)

5.25

Points per GW

Sead Kolasinac (ARS)

6.0

1

vs WAT (A)

1

vs EVE (A)

14

vs SWA (H)

1

vs MCY (A)

4.25

Points per GW

Nicholas Otamendi*

(MCY)

5.9

1

vs STO (H)

15

vs BUR (H)

0

vs WBA (A)

1

vs ARS (H)

4.25

Points per GW

Leighton Baines

(EVE)

5.8

2

vs BRI (A)

0

vs ARS (H)

1

vs LEI (A)

12

vs WAT (H)

3.75

Points per GW

*Nicholas Otamendi hit with a one game suspension to be served in Gameweek 12

Conclusion:

I would strongly recommend you include at least one Premium Defender in your team. These players can be FPL gold with their returns. At the moment, it is Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta who is head and shoulders above his rivals, even with a minus score in Gameweek 8. He is outscoring his higher priced team-mate (and the most expensive defender in the game) Marcus Alonso by 3 points per week over a 4 game average.

On the other hand, all of the premium priced defenders other than Azpilicueta and Jan Vertonghen seem to have gone off the boil in the last 4 games. Theoretically you could go without at the moment, but eventually the quality will start to shine through again and they will start to increase their averages.

Defenders (Mid-Range):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Joel Matip

(LIV)

5.5

6

vs MUN (H)

0

vs TOT (A)

6

vs HUD (H)

10

vs WHU (A)

5.5

Points per GW

Steve Cook

(BOU)

4.8

1

vs TOT (A)

1

vs STO (A)

2

vs CHE (H)

15

vs NEW (A)

4.75

Points per GW

Phil Jones

(MUN)

5.5

7

vs LIV (A)

1

vs HUD (A)

9

vs TOT (H)

1

vs CHE (A)

4.5

Points per GW

Christian Fuchs (LEI)

4.9

2

vs WBA (H)

1

vs SWA (A)

12

vs EVE (H)

1

vs STO (A)

4

Points per GW

Stephen Ward (BUR)

4.9

2

vs WHU (H)

1

vs MCY (A)

6

vs NEW (H)

6

vs SOU (A)

3.75

Points per GW

Conclusion:

We’ve all cottoned on to the fact Phil Jones is a must-own by now. 8 clean sheets in 11 games is stunning in anyone’s books so let’s lock him in to everyone’s team right now. Interestingly, and somewhat surprisingly considering Liverpool’s apparent inability to stop leaking goals, it is Joel Matip that leads the pack over the last 4 games; even with a blank in GW9.

In my opinion you need a couple of these mid-range defenders in a strong FPL squad, so really we need someone alongside Jones. For me, although Stephen Ward is looking good, there are cheaper options from Burnley as we will see below. Bournemouth’s fixtures are good, so you could consider Steve Cook, but in all honesty it is the re-emergence of title winning full-back Christian Fuchs that stands out to me – especially with new manager Claude Puel looking to tighten up the Foxes defence.

Defenders (Budget):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Shane Duffy

(BRI)

4.5

6

vs EVE (H)

7

vs WHU (A)

1

vs SOU (H)

7

vs SWA (A)

5.25

Points per GW

Ben Mee

(BUR)

4.5

2

vs WHU (H)

1

vs MCY (A)

9

vs NEW (H)

8

vs SOU (A)

5

Points per GW

Matt Lowton

(BUR)

4.5

2

vs WHU (H)

1

vs MCY (A)

8

vs NEW (H)

6

vs SOU (A)

4.25

Points per GW

Bruno

(BRI)

4.5

1

vs EVE (H)

8

vs WHU (A)

2

vs SOU (H)

6

vs SWA (A)

4.25

Points per GW

Joe Gomez

(LIV)

4.6

9

vs MUN (H)

0

vs TOT (A)

6

vs HUD (H)

2

vs WHU (A)

4.25

Points per GW

Conclusion:

Well, this looks relatively simple doesn’t it? Invest in one Burnley defender and one Brighton defender. Take your pick I guess. I personally think the two with the most attacking potential are the two at the top of the table: Shane Duffy (who actually featured up front for the Republic of Ireland in their recent International game) and Ben Mee. Neither have scored or assisted yet, but their underlying stats are good which indicate that may change soon.

Let’s move onto the midfield now shall we? For this my criteria will be 5 premium priced players (£11.8 – £8.5m), 5 mid-range players (£8.4m – £6.0m) and 5 budget players (£5.9m and below). 

Midfielders (Premium):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Leroy Sane

(MCY)

8.9

10

vs STO (H)

12

vs BUR (H)

12

vs WBA (A)

2

vs ARS (H)

9

Points per GW

Mo Salah

(LIV)

9.4

3

vs MUN (H)

7

vs TOT (A)

4

vs HUD (H)

15

vs WHU (A)

7.25

Points per GW

Kevin De Bruyne

(MCY)

10.1

9

vs STO (H)

6

vs BUR (H)

2

vs WBA (A)

10

vs ARS (H)

6.75

Points per GW

Eden Hazard

(CHE)

10.6

2

vs CRY (A)

5

vs WAT (H)

11

vs BOU (A)

3

vs MUN (H)

5.25

Points per GW

Mesut Ozil (ARS)

9.3

1

vs WAT (A)

13

vs EVE (A)

6

vs SWA (H)

1

vs MCY (A)

5.25

Points per GW

Conclusion:

Probably nothing you don’t already know. You need a Man City midfielder. No arguments there. Guardiola’s rotation policy will drive you nuts, but even from the bench these boys will score you points. Kevin De Bruyne hasn’t been rotated (YET!) and is arguably the best player in the Premier League so far this season. Leroy Sane is more explosive, and has started the last 6 league games, but does this guarantee him his place? Who cares with that kind of average?

Interestingly, neither Christian Eriksen nor Dele Alli appear in this last 4 game form table (averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 points per game respectively). Are you still holding them? Are they worth the money? Only you can decide that.

There is no sign of Alexis Sanchez yet (3.75 point average), yet his “lazy” team mate Mesut Ozil does sneak in there by virtue of his goal and 2 assists in Gameweek 9 and 10).

Midfielders (Mid-Range):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Riyad Mahrez

(LEI)

8.4

8

vs WBA (H)

10

vs SWA (A)

6

vs EVE (H)

7

vs STO (A)

7.75

Points per GW

Raheem Sterling

(MCY)

8.2

15

vs STO (H)

0

vs BUR (H)

7

vs WBA (A)

2

vs ARS (H)

6.75

Points per GW

Aaron Ramsey (ARS)

7.0

0

vs WAT (A)

12

vs EVE (A)

9

vs SWA (H)

6

vs MCY (A)

6.75

Points per GW

Son Heung-Min

(TOT)

7.9

3

vs BOU (H)

7

vs LIV (H)

3

vs MUN (A)

10

vs CRY (H)

5.75

Points per GW

Wilfried Zaha (CRY)

6.8

7

vs CHE (H)

3

vs NEW (A)

7

vs WHU (H)

2

vs TOT (A)

4.75

Points per GW

Conclusion:

At the moment, it would be very difficult to ignore the form of Riyad Mahrez. He is probably still angling for a move in the January Transfer Window, but at this point who cares? With Puel in charge I strongly suspect Leicester will go back to basics and return to the counter-attacking football that delivered them a league title.

Raheem Sterling is always a rotation risk, yet is playing the best attacking football of his career and returning consistent points. Aaron Ramsey is finally delivering the points his pre-season form suggested he was capable of, which has coincided with the return of Alexis Sanchez.  Son-Heung Min has returned to the Spurs starting line-up in the last 4 games, which has coincided with the points drop for both Eriksen and Alli. Coincidence? Sonny has just scored two goals vs Colombia during the International Break so his confidence must be sky high.

Wilf Zaha just beats the popular pick of Richarlison into the form table by one point. Both are worthy of consideration at this point.

Midfielders (Budget):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Fernandinho

(MCY)

5.2

7

vs STO (H)

2

vs BUR (H)

13

vs WBA (A)

5

vs ARS (H)

6.75

Points per GW

Pascal Gross

(BRI)

5.9

6

vs EVE (H)

6

vs WHU (A)

7

vs SOU (H)

3

vs SWA (A)

5.5

Points per GW

Anthony Knockaert

(BRI)

5.7

8

vs EVE (H)

3

vs WHU (A)

2

vs SOU (H)

9

vs SWA (A)

5.5

Points per GW

Xherdan Shaqiri

(STO)

5.9

2

vs MCY (A)

0

vs BOU (H)

5

vs WAT (A)

13

vs LEI (H)

5

Points per GW

Andrew Surman

(BOU)

4.7

2

vs TOT (A)

9

vs STO (A)

2

vs CHE (H)

5

vs NEW (A)

4.5

Points per GW

Conclusion:

For a defensive midfielder, it may be somewhat surprising that Fernandinho tops the form table for the last 4 games, but two goals and two assists will tend to do that for a player. It indicates the fact that goals can come from ANYWHERE for this City team, and at £5.2m he really should be considered a viable option.

The Brighton duo of Pascal Gross and Anthony Knockaert are doing the business and one of this pairing should probably find their way into your squad if they’re not there already. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever written “their”, “they’re” and “there” in the same sentence. Andrew Surman is also an interesting proposal when looking at his price and his fixtures as a combination.

You will notice there are no players in the sub-£4.5m price range in the form table, but understandably you may want one as your 5th Mid in order to spend the cash elsewhere. Currently, Tom Carroll (SWA), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CRY), Dale Stephens (BRI) or Jack Cork (BUR) look to be the best bet in this very small field.

Finally then, we’re onto the Forwards. I will look at all 6 premium options (£12.9m – £10.0m), 5 mid-range options (£9.9m – £6.5m) and 5 budget options (£6.4m and below).

Forwards (Premium):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Harry Kane

(TOT)

12.8

2

vs BOU (H)

16

vs LIV (H)

0

vs MUN (A)

2

vs CRY (H)

5

Points per GW

Gabriel Jesus

(MCY)

10.5

13

vs STO (H)

1

vs BUR (H)

1

vs WBA (A)

5

vs ARS (H)

5

Points per GW

Sergio Aguero

(MCY)

11.8

0

vs STO (H)

7

vs BUR (H)

0

vs WBA (A)

8

vs ARS (H)

3.75

Points per GW

Alvaro Morata

(CHE)

10.3

0

vs CRY (A)

1

vs WAT (H)

5

vs BOU (A)

8

vs MUN (H)

3.5

Points per GW

Romelu Lukaku

(MUN)

11.5

2

vs LIV (A)

5

vs HUD (A)

5

vs TOT (H)

2

vs CHE (A)

3.5

Points per GW

Alexandre Lacazette (ARS)

10.3

2

vs WAT (A)

6

vs EVE (A)

2

vs SWA (H)

4

vs MCY (A)

3.5

Points per GW

Conclusion:

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE!! Our premium forwards are NOT delivering!! Not one of them. Not consistently anyway, and certainly not over the last 4 games. A 5 point per week average for the most expensive player in the game? Pfft. That said, for me Harry Kane is a must-own season keeper (bar injury) and a fully fit Sergio Aguero has been a must-own for years. But have their time passed? Are they currently worth the investment if you are on a Wildcard? Certainly, owning THREE premium forwards (as I do) seems like fools gold at the moment. Let’s see if the value lies elsewhere…

Forwards (Mid-Range):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Wayne Rooney

(EVE)

7.3

9

vs BRI (A)

6

vs ARS (H)

2

vs LEI (A)

2

vs WAT (H)

4.75

Points per GW

Manolo Gabbiadini

(SOU)

6.6

12

vs NEW (H)

2

vs WBA (H)

2

vs BRI (A)

2

vs BUR (H)

4.5

Points per GW

Jamie Vardy

(LEI)

8.6

2

vs WBA (H)

2

vs SWA (A)

8

vs EVE (H)

2

vs STO (A)

3.5

Points per GW

Roberto Firmino

(LIV)

8.5

2

vs MUN (H)

2

vs TOT (A)

8

vs HUD (H)

2

vs WHU (A)

3.5

Points per GW

Michy Batsuayi

(CHE)

8.1

1

vs CRY (A)

12

vs WAT (H)

1

vs BOU (A)

0

vs MUN (H)

3.5

Points per GW

Conclusion:

It is eye opening to me that it is Everton’s Wayne Rooney that tops the form table in the mid-range options, behind only Kane and Jesus in terms of average points returns over the past 4 weeks. Somewhat surprisingly considering their relative fixture ease is the form of Jamie Vardy; maybe one to monitor for now along with Roberto Firmino?

If we’re going to be honest with ourselves here, none of the 5 players in the table are tearing up any trees currently.

Forwards (Budget):

Defenders

£

GW8 Points

GW9 Points

GW10 Points

GW11 Points

Average

Glenn Murray

(BRI)

5.8

2

vs EVE (H)

13

vs WHU (A)

6

vs SOU (H)

8

vs SWA (A)

7.25

Points per GW

Tammy Abraham

(SWA)

5.9

13

vs HUD (H)

2

vs LEI (H)

5

vs ARS (A)

2

vs BRI (H)

5.5

Points per GW

Mame Biram Diouf

(STO)

5.5

9

vs MCY (A)

7

vs BOU (H)

1

vs WAT (A)

2

vs LEI (H)

4.75

Points per GW

Oumar Niasse

(EVE)

4.9

1

vs BRI (A)

5

vs ARS (H)

1

vs LEI (A)

9

vs WAT (H)

4

Points per GW

Laurent Depoitre

(HUD)

5.2

2

vs SWA (A)

9

vs MUN (H)

2

vs LIV (A)

2

vs WBA (H)

3.75

Points per GW

Conclusion:

Budget option Glenn Murray is currently averaging the same points as Mo Salah, and is in fact only behind Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez in average points over the last 4 weeks. Tammy Abraham is also averaging more than any off the premium and mid-range forward options over recent weeks.

Obviously it will be risky to include too many budget options in any area of your team, but at the moment it may perhaps pay off if you reconfigure your thinking away from the high cost options and invest your money where the points are more prolific i.e. midfield.

Final Thoughts:

My research has thrown up some interesting results that is making me challenge my own transfer policy.

I firmly believe that the priority at the moment should be to ensure your bench is loaded with players who at least regularly start, rather than the usual bench fodder. Rotation is going to make everyone’s lives difficult very, very soon.

We should perhaps start to think about investing money in a fully loaded midfield rather than in the “Star Strikers”. To be honest this makes sense as midfielders do earn extra points for clean sheets and goals, so it should be obvious that this is where you need to go in heavy.

The assumption that premium attacking wing-backs should be loaded into your defence looks to be false at the moment. Maybe that will change but currently I wouldn’t recommend spending over the odds on your defensive unit.

Assuming by now you have got a little extra cash in the bank above the £100m we all start the season with, I will now give you my personal Wildcard squad – if I hadn’t used the bloody thing before Gameweek 6. I am going to use a budget of £102m and list the next 4 fixtures to get a gauge of difficulty.

FPL 2

There we have it then. My wildcard squad based primarily on form players over the last 4 weeks.

Points to note:

Decided to go with rotating cheap GK’s for  £8.5m total rather than go for De Gea plus a non-playing cheap GK for £9.7m total

Speroni could easily be Elliot (if you picked him up cheap enough)

All 5 Defs start regularly for their clubs and can slot in as needed when rotation bites

Mee or Duffy could quite easily have been a BOU Def with their upcoming fixtures

All 5 Mids start regularly for their clubs; with his price and form I couldn’t resist Fernandinho, but you may fancy Loftus-Cheek now he is fit and playing

Despite discussing the fact premium forwards aren’t performing, I couldn’t bring myself to not pick two of them; they will come good and will outperform the cheaper options in the long run

Hopping on and off form budget players is a great strategy; Murray is currently that guy, but he could easily be Abraham, Diouf or even Callum Wilson if he hits a patch of form

Hopefully I’ve given you some options or just reinforced your view that your squad is in good shape. Even if you’ve used your Wildcard, maybe there are a few transfer options in the article you haven’t considered.

Good luck, and may you always remain one point behind me…

Written by @FPL_Fly

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Liverpool 5 5 0 0 15
2 Manchester City 5 3 1 1 10
3 Tottenham Hotspur 5 2 2 1 8
4 Manchester United 5 2 2 1 8
5 Leicester City 5 2 2 1 8
6 Chelsea 5 2 2 1 8
7 Arsenal 5 2 2 1 8
8 West Ham United 5 2 2 1 8
9 AFC Bournemouth 5 2 1 2 7
10 Southampton 5 2 1 2 7
11 Everton 5 2 1 2 7
12 Crystal Palace 5 2 1 2 7
13 Norwich City 5 2 0 3 6
14 Burnley 5 1 2 2 5
15 Sheffield United 5 1 2 2 5
16 Brighton & Hov… 5 1 2 2 5
17 Aston Villa 5 1 1 3 4
18 Newcastle United 5 1 1 3 4
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 5 0 3 2 3
20 Watford 5 0 2 3 2

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