In this article, FPL James provides you with a potential GW30 wildcard draft. This draft will set you up very well for the FPL GW30 to GW38 stretch.
We are now approaching the business end of the season. With just 9 gameweeks to go in 2020/21, FPL managers are running out of time to climb the rankings or win those all important mini leagues.
For those who still haven’t played their second wildcard, the international break provides a great opportunity to give your squad a refresh for the run-in. I am still deliberating if I should deploy my wildcard this week, but I have put together a possible draft that I think could serve me well between now and May, should I choose to use the chip this week.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This draft was created midweek and it could change before the GW30 deadline.
Graphics by Foomni Analytics.
GK – Edouard Mendy (£5.2m)
I have been fortunate enough to own Emiliano Martinez for a large majority of the season. The Aston Villa shot-stopper has etched his name into FPL folklore with some heroic performances, but I think GW30 could be the time to move on. The statistics tell us that Villa have been slightly fortunate to only concede 12 goals in their last 10 games, with their xGC (expected goals conceded) sitting at 15.
In contrast, Chelsea’s xGC is just 4.54, and I expect this remarkable defensive record to continue with The Blues facing West Brom, Crystal Palace, Brighton, West Ham and Fulham in their next 5 games. Mendy has played all but 1 game under Thomas Tuchel and with Kepa likely to play in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, I would expect his place to be safe in between the sticks.
Although his ceiling has been 6 points for much of the season, Mendy has done well on bonus in recent weeks. He swept up all 3 against Manchester United in GW26 and almost repeated the trick against Leeds last time out, picking up 9 points in the 0-0 draw at Elland Road. At £5.2m, he provides a nice route into a formidable Chelsea defence that have been nothing but solid since Thomas Tuchel took over in January.
DEF – Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.8m)
My second Chelsea defender is likely to be their captain, Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spaniard has been an ever-present under Tuchel, playing 90 minutes in every league game that he has taken charge of. During that 10 game period he has racked up an impressive 66 points, making him the highest scoring defender in the game over that period.
Azpilicueta is likely to start most games because he is able to play as a centre-back or a wing-back in a 3/5 at the back system. There is a small chance that he will be rotated due to Chelsea’s European commitments, but they still have a top 4 position to fight for and I would expect their captain to play a large majority of their remaining games.
DEF – Antonio Rudiger (£4.7m)
I’m strongly considering going with a Chelsea defensive triple-up due to their nice fixture run and brilliant underlying numbers under Tuchel. If I do go down that route, Rudiger will be my 3rd. The German centre-back provides fantastic value at £4.7m and is fairly nailed, missing just 1 of Tuchel’s 10 games so far. He also provides a small threat from set-pieces, with Chelsea scoring an impressive 15 goals from dead ball situations so far this season.
DEF – Trent Alexander Arnold (£7.3m)
This pick is bound to raise a few eyebrows, and I must admit that TAA has done very little to warrant his place in a wildcard squad so far this season. However, I believe that the power of the wildcard chip is that it allows you to take 1 or 2 punts, especially at this stage of the season.
Although he has had a poor season so far, Alexander Arnold still has a lot to play for in the final 9 games. Firstly, Liverpool still have their sights set on a top 4 position, with The Reds 5 points behind Chelsea. Secondly, TAA was left out of the most recent England squad, meaning he has a fight on his hands to get on the plane for the European Championships this summer.
His underlying statistics show us that he has been unfortunate not to return more points in recent weeks. In his last 6 matches, TAA has created the 2nd most amount of chances out of all defenders (14) and he has by far the highest xA (2.08).
Liverpool have probably the nicest run in out of all the Premier League clubs. They face Newcastle, West Brom, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Southampton between now and the end of the season. These fixtures provide TAA with the perfect opportunity to finish the season strong and get himself to the Euros.
If you would like to read an article on the revival of TAA in recent weeks, see the article here by our football expert Jordie.
MID – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.5m)
The first premium in my team is likely to be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Arsenal captain has had a pretty poor season by his standards, netting just 9 times so far. He also missed the North London Derby in GW28 through disciplinary issues, but I’m backing him to come good in the final 9 GW’s.
Between now and GW35, the Gunners face Fulham, Sheffield United, Newcastle and West Brom as they chase a European place. Over the years, Aubameyang has gained a reputation for being somewhat of a flat-track bully and these fixtures look ideal for him to find his shooting boots.
His underlying numbers recently give me hope ahead of his nice fixture run. Over the last 6 gameweeks he has the highest xG of all midfielders (2.78). He has also registered 4 big chances, which is impressive considering he has sat out 2 of Arsenal’s last 6 games.
MID – Raphinha (£5.6m)
The difficult part of a GW30 wildcard is deciding what to do with your Leeds assets. The Whites have a plum home fixture in GW30 against Sheffield United but then embark on a gruelling fixture run that sees them face Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United in the space of 3 gameweeks.
It is likely that I will sacrifice Stuart Dallas if I do wildcard, but Raphinha is too good to ditch ahead of the league’s worst team visiting Elland Road. The Brazilian has been mesmerising at times this season, and his underlying statistics in the last 6 gameweeks are good enough to give non-owners sleepless nights.
Across that period, he has notched an xGI of 4.24 (1st amongst all midfielders), has registered 18 goal attempts (1st for all midfielders) and 7 shots on target (3rd for all midfielders). These are stats that you would normally associate with premium midfielders, not a £5.6m enabler.
My current thinking is to hold him for Sheffield United before switching him to someone like Jota or Pedro Neto, who both have very appealing fixtures in the coming weeks. However, I also have the option of benching Raphinha through his tough fixtures and starting Saiss, who I will discuss in further detail later.
MID – Heung-Min Son (£9.4m)
If Son is cleared fit to play by Jose Mourinho before the GW30 deadline, I think his inclusion in a wildcard squad is a no-brainer. He has been on fire so far this season, notching 13 goals and 9 assists.
Son has gone through a bit of a barren spell in recent weeks, with the South Korean failing to score since GW23. However, he has found other ways to contribute from an FPL perspective, chipping in with a couple of assists on his way to an 11 point return against Burnley in GW26.
Son missed Spurs’ win at Aston Vila in GW29 and didn’t join up with South Korea for the international break, so he has had 3 weeks to recover from his injury and recharge his batteries ahead of a vital run-in for Spurs.
The North London club travel to struggling Newcastle in GW30 before facing Manchester United in GW31. They then have a DGW in 32 consisting of games against Southampton and Everton, where Son will be a candidate for captaincy. This proceeds a blank gameweek in 33 before a mouth-watering home fixture against Sheffield United.
If Son is ruled out of the Newcastle game through injury, his team-mate Lucas Moura provides an interesting differential option. I expect Son to play though and I think he could do a lot of damage on the counter-attack at St James’ Park.
MID – Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m)
I’ve gone without Bruno Fernandes since GW26 at the expense of my health and sanity. It is very difficult to watch Manchester United games when you don’t own the Portugese man, such is his involvement in their attacking play. The wildcard presents me with a great opportunity to get him back in ahead of a run-in with mixed fixtures, but high stakes for United.
There’s no real need for me to justify this pick with underlying statistics. His record this season speaks for itself. 16 goals and 12 assists with 9 games still to go is a remarkable return from an attacking midfielder, and I expect him to hit 20 goals fairly comfortably between now and the end of the season.
Put simply, Bruno is an FPL manager’s dream. By hook or by crook, he always seems to find himself in the points and I am very much looking forward to having him back in my team.
FWD – Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.7m)
Kelechi Iheanacho’s remarkable run of form in recent weeks has come at a perfect time for Leicester and FPL managers. The Nigerian has had a somewhat frustrating time in the East Midlands since his move from Manchester City, but he seems to now be consistently displaying the quality that he has shown glimpses of throughout his career.
The Nigerian marksman has 5 goals in his last 3 league games and he also notched a double in Leicester’s impressive FA Cup win over Manchester United before the international break. Iheanacho is in the form of his life.
Unsurprisingly, the underlying numbers show that his incredible goalscoring run is no fluke. In the last 4 gameweeks, Iheanacho leads all strikers for attempts inside the box (10) and big chances (7), and he is second only to Harry Kane for xGI (3.87).
As I mentioned earlier, Iheanacho’s great form comes at a perfect time for FPL mangers. With his place in the team seemingly secure for the foreseeable future, he now faces West Brom, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Newcastle between GW32 and 35. Before that there are tougher games against Manchester City and West Ham, but with the form he’s in at the moment, you wouldn’t bet against Iheanacho to score against anyone.
If you would like a data-driven overview of Iheanacho’s season thus far, check out this article here by our resident data expert, Nate.
FWD – Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m)
This was easily one of the most contentious places in my squad. Calvert-Lewin has had a great season but has struggled for goals over the last couple of months. His goal against Burnley last time out was his first for 7 games.
However, he has had success against every single one of his next 4 opponents and I’m quietly confident that he will score well against them in the coming weeks. Crystal Palace, Everton’s GW30 opponents, have conceded the joint most amount of headed chances over the last 6 gameweeks. Calvert-Lewin then faces Brighton, a team he scored against in the reverse fixture, before playing Tottenham who he also notched against on the opening weekend of the season.
Another option available to me is to ditch the 3rd striker altogether and play 3-5-2, with a midfielder like Jota coming in and saving me some money in the process. I think this is a route I will eventually go down, but I might do it in a couple of weeks with two free transfers instead.
FWD – Harry Kane (£11.6m)
Kane picks himself ahead of Newcastle and a double gameweek in which I am likely to hand him the triple captain. His performances this season have been sensational and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him end on 25 goals, which would be remarkable in a team that is unlikely to make the top four.
His underlying numbers in the last 6 gameweeks have also been brilliant. He has registered a staggering 28 goal attempts, which puts him 12 ahead of any other striker in the league. 14 of those shots have been in the box, whilst 5 have been big chances and 10 have been on target. This has resulted in a mammoth xG of 4.07 and means that I am very likely to captain him this week at Newcastle.
1st sub – Romain Saiss (£4.9m)
Saiss was a popular pick last season but hasn’t broken into the template so far this campaign, largely due to the fact that he has been part of a Wolves defence that has been far from solid for most of the season. Nuno’s men have kept just 8 clean sheets in 29 games. Saiss has also had a couple of injuries and been a victim of Nuno’s switch to a 4-at-the-back system at times.
However, the Moroccan has now started the last 6 league games and walks into a mouth-watering fixture run from a defensive point of view. Wolves face West Ham, Fulham, Sheffield United, Burnley and West Brom in their next 5 games. You would expect them to keep a minimum of two clean sheets in that run. We also know that Saiss has a bit of attacking potential, especially in a back 5, which is evident by his 3 goals already this season.
As mentioned earlier, Saiss’ good fixtures give me the option of starting him over Raphinha in GW31, 32 and 33. He will also be useful to start in GW33 when my two Spurs players have a blank gameweek.
GK – Fraser Forster (£4.0m) – Nice and cheap and has started 3 out of the last 4 league games. Don’t expect to have to call on him with Mendy between the sticks.
DEF – Oliver Casey (£3.8m) – This draft has £0.0 in the bank so I have had to go cheap with my remaining subs. Casey will be 3rd sub. If you have more money in the bank, Diop (£4.3m) looks to be a great option.
MID – Oliver Burke (£4.1m) – My second sub will be Burke, who is the cheapest midfielder in the game but actually started Sheffield United’s last game as a striker. Don’t expect to have to call on him but at least he is likely to get me 1 point if I did have to.