In this article, FPL Del takes you through his GW31 Wildcard squad, explaining the reasons for including each player.
Hi all! So after many hours of fun and deliberation the time has come to reveal my Wildcard Team ahead of gameweek 31. I am currently ranked 1,195 in the world and I’m really hoping this new team can give me a significant boost to help secure a top 1k finish.
My rank peaked this season in gameweek 19 at 342nd in the world, after a strong Bench Boost week, and since gameweek 20 I have been treading water between 1k and 2.5k. If I am honest, I have been in rank protection mode.
I want my wildcard to be a combination of solid bets and real, game-changing differentials. I’ve tried where possible to plan my team out for the next 8 gameweeks and have a transfer strategy in mind.
So, without further ado, here we go…
I’ve been blessed to own Emi Martinez since my first Wildcard in gameweek 5, but with Villa’s turn of fixtures I was really keen to get a high performing goalkeeper with a solid set of fixtures remaining. Mendy is currently the 7th ranked FPL keeper having kept 14 clean sheets this season. Chelsea have been exceptional at the back barring the West Brom game, and have 4 favourable fixtures remaining vs Palace, Brighton, Fulham and Villa.
Traditionally I never buy expensive keepers. The performance difference between premium and budget keepers doesn’t match the additional cost. At £4.0m Forster is a squad enabler. He provides adequate cover for Mendy in gameweek 36 when Chelsea play Arsenal and Southampton play Fulham. This allows my keepers to attack 5 of the remaining 8 fixtures, without breaking the bank, which I am happy with.
Chelsea’s rock since Tuchel’s arrival. With the amount of clean sheets Chelsea have kept lately (8 in 11 since Tuchel took over) I wanted to guarantee I benefited from any continuation of that form. The rotation policy that Tuchel has implemented means Azpilicueta is the best way to ensure that. I would love his recent increase in creativity to continue!
Tuchel has rotated his full back’s and Alonso has only started 6 of his 11 Premier League games in charge, so this represents somewhat of a risk, given his price. However, when he is on the pitch, he is far and away the best attacking defensive asset available. He’s in the top 5 for recent xG and xA, despite his lack of game time, and my strategy is to have solid defensive cover elsewhere for when Alonso is rotated.
Phillips has formed a solid centre-back partnership with Kabak since Klopp stopped messing around playing midfielders out of position. With no sign of Van Dijk, Gomez or Matip he looks set for a run in the side. Liverpool have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 6 and have favourable fixtures vs Villa, Leeds, Newcastle, Southampton, West Brom and Burnley. Their only problem may be Manchester United in gameweek 34, but those games have been cagey affairs recently.
Along with Aaron Cresswell, Shaw has been the most creative defender over the last 10 gameweeks. He’s made the left back slot his own with 5 goals and an assist with only 1 of those coming before gameweek 22. United have reasonable fixtures left with Burnley, Leeds, Villa and Fulham left to play. They play Villa and Leicester in gameweek 35 and 36, where my double Chelsea defence may struggle against City and Arsenal.
Dawson hadn’t played a minute before gameweek 16, but has played every minute since, racking up 6 clean sheets and 3 goals in that time. Since gameweek 16, he’s averaging 4.33 points per game played vs Aaron Cresswell’s 4.53 per game and he’s £1.4m cheaper, so a great enabler for the rest of the squad. West Ham face Newcastle, Burnley, Everton, Brighton, West Brom and Southampton in their final 8 games so he’s a great compliment to other more premium options.
He’s been nothing short of sensational since joining West Ham on loan. 68 points in 8 games is elite level performance (we’re talking prime Henry / Lampard / Salah points per game average). With West Ham’s fixtures there’s no reason that form can’t continue. As of last week he was still only roughly 30% Effective Ownership in the Top 10k, however I’m expecting that to jump up this week.
The thought of navigating the last 8 games of the season without this seasons top scorer, so far, was too painful to contemplate. Of all the considered ‘Premiums’ this season, his remaining 8 fixtures are as good as any other. Quite simply a no brainer.
He has been out injured of late and has blown hot and cold since the turn of the year, but with Spurs playing twice in gameweek 32 I don’t want to be without him. Spurs play Sheffield United, Leeds, Wolves and Villa after the League Cup final and he makes the cut as a protection ploy as much as anything (he had 60% Effective Ownership in the top 10k last gameweek).
Since returning from injury he’s sparkled and Liverpool seem rejuvenated as a result. 3 goals in 228 Premier League minutes since his return and 12 in 21 across the Premier League and UCL so far this year. He also has 6 in 10 for Portugal and I’m expecting his EO to explode this week from the 5% it was last gameweek. Should still prove a useful differential.
Bear with me, this is a 1 week punt! Rested for the recent UCL game I think he is as guaranteed as any City player can be to get 90 minutes vs Leeds this weekend. I may well captain him against the leagues most open team. If it works out for me it will be a huge differential this week. Regardless of how he does this week he’ll be replaced by Salah next week, when I’m hoping Liverpool tear into Leeds in similar fashion.
I’m not even going to bother trying to sell Kane to you 🙂 My Hero!!!
Iheanacho has shown great form with 6 goals in his last 7. There is a slight concern over if he can maintain that form and if he’ll even keep his place once Maddison is fully fit, but with Vardy not finding the net and Harvey Barnes likely to miss the rest of the season I am not overly concerned. The lack of fit and firing front men elsewhere made this an easy decision. He would be relatively easy to move on for a Bamford / Watkins / Antonio if and when the time is right.
Ok, so this is a punt but he’s basically my 8th choice attacker. He’s £4.8m, he’s playing regularly (started 9 of their last 11), Ashley Barnes likely out for the season and he’s actually got 2 goals and an assist in his last 4. Burnley play Newcastle this week and Wolves in gameweek 33 when I’ll have to bench Kane, so it feels like the stars have aligned. In all honesty, I would have much preferred Wood but the extra £1.4m is invaluable elsewhere.
As already stated my gameweek 32 move will be Salah for Sterling, regardless of how well Sterling does. I’ve kept £1.2m in the bank for that as the difference is currently £1.1m. As I write that I’m imagining what I’ll do if Sterling bangs in a hat-trick, but I should be so lucky! Beyond that, I feel I’m already well setup for 32 with 2 double gameweek players, and I’m not really interested in any more.
Barring injuries, I’ll look to hold my transfer in gameweek 33 in case there is a situation / opportunity that requires Vydra to be upgraded. I’ll need funds from elsewhere to achieve that and where possible I want to avoid taking hits.
I’ve tried to build a squad where my next 8 gameweek captains are already either in the squad or planned as transfers. I will be very interested in premium City assets in gameweek 34, 36 and 37 but that all depends on their progress in the Champions League, Pep’s rotation and how my other premiums are doing.
By having a defence that hopefully can see me through until the end of the season unchanged, I’m hoping to be able to rotate Sterling, Salah, Fernandes, KDB and any others premiums that present themselves to ensure I’ve got the best possible captain options. I’m sure the FPL Gods will have something to say about that though!